Australia may not have an entrant at this year’s International Mr Leather (IML) event after critical sponsorship fell through at the eleventh hour.
Sydney-based business Rainbow Tourism – a member of the International Gay and Lesbian Tourism Association – says it is unable to honour its sponsorship agreement to fly current Australian leather champion Josh Burrows to the May 28 Chicago event.
Competition organiser Alex Schoeffel said the business, which pledged two air fares to Chicago and accommodation, had “dishonored” its sponsorship agreement, casting doubt over the future of the Mr Leather Australia/New Zealand competition.
“It’s extremely disappointing for the sustainability of the [national] leather festival because it jars the community confidence in the contest,” Schoeffel told Southern Star.
“If the national festival was to collapse, then sponsorship interests in the state and local leather contests would disappear … it would be disastrous.”
Schoeffel said he received an email from the Rainbow Tourism stating it was “very disappointed” and had no other option.
Calls to Rainbow Tourism by Southern Star have gone unanswered.
Schoeffel said he has already been in touch with the leather community to “save the day”.
Burrows said he was determined to make the trip and “confident” a new sponsor could be found.
“I believe there may be a potential sponsor in Melbourne, but we haven’t had any confirmation,” he said.
“I am disappointed, but at the same time I’ve been recharged by the spirit of the community, they’ve all jumped on board and so many people have offered me support financially and morally as well.
“It may be a blessing in disguise because I feel more confident and better about the community.”
Sydney’s Patrick Brookes is the only Australian to win IML, taking the title in 1980.