New Sydney Leather Pride Association (SLPA) president Rod Spark is a man on a mission — to make Sydney’s leather and fetish community feel comfortable wearing their outfits of choice when and where they please.

Leather Pride Week 2010 — which runs July 10-17 — will mark the beginning of that mission. A week where Sydney Leather Pride will refocus and refresh its commitment to the community.

“Leather Pride Week has always been an evolving and growing event. We always try to provide something fresh for our community, be it new venues or new events and this year will be no different,” Spark told Sydney Star Observer.

“SLPA has been around for 18 years, providing a strong, safe environment for people of the GLBTI and straight leather/ fetish/ kink community. But more than that, we want to educate the broader community and let them see what a truly liberating lifestyle this is.

“And if you’re interested there’s an organisation in place to help you embrace what’s truly inside you.

“Some people perceive leather folk as freaky scary people. SLPA is an inclusive community-based organisation for all GLBTI and gay-friendly straights who share some form of kink or fetish, be that a full-on Leather Sir kitted out in BLUF gear who has a stable of willing supplicants to a sports-kitted wrestler who loves to show off his physique in a tight suit to our gorgeous women in elaborate outfits they have spent hours creating.

“We want to show the broader society that our members are much like anybody else. We hold down jobs, pay our taxes, cook and clean. We’ve just been lucky enough to find a sexual, aesthetic and spiritual medium that really let’s us be ourselves — heart and soul.”

This year’s Leather Pride Week calendar of events — put together by SLPA’s dedicated team of volunteers — features a diverse range of education, culture, information and interaction.

“We’re having a fantastic launch of Pride Week where we take over the entire Oxford Hotel on Taylor Square,” Spark said. “There’ll be fantastic DJs, a kink speed-dating night and a full dress leather/fetish cocktail event.

“The week will include our Artspace exhibition of amazing fetish artists, our education workshops and of course the fantastic Inquisition dance party at the Arthouse Hotel.

“A highlight will be the final of our Dungeon DJ Competition to find the next hot DJ. The winner will open the second room at Inquisition.”

Spark said the reinvigorated SLPA committee would use this year’s festival as a litmus test for future events to broaden SLPA’s community appeal outside of the very popular (and almost sold-out!) Inquisition dance party.

“I’d like to see more education, more engagement from our representative communities, especially women, broadening the events from the very successful dance party to there being a popular weeklong festival that people will look forward to in the future,” he said.

“The great thing about Leather Pride Week is it gives people the chance to experience the scene and see how well it fits. My advice, come along to the launch and try a few events and see what works for you. If you’re an old hand, come along and be part of your community.

“We’re happy to hear suggestions and talk to people about what they want. If you have a speciality that you want to share with others let us know — you’d be surprised just how many others might be interested.”

info: Find out more about Sydney Leather Pride at www.sydneyleatherpride.org

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