By Drew Sheldrick

A new fund aimed at fostering a positive leather lifestyle in the gay community has been launched in Melbourne.

The Brookes Trust was officially opened by the 2009 Mr Leather Australia/ New Zealand title-holder, Josh Burrows, at Sircuit on Saturday.
The organisation’s main aim is to support the current Australian/ New Zealander Mr Leather’s yearlong reign with fundraising and planning related to significant events in the leather community.

Brookes Trust executive member Wayne Nicol, told Southern Star he came up with the concept after realising that previous title winners had very little support in helping promote the leather community’s activities after the win.

“I thought that in the yearlong run-up to the international competition that these winners could really be out there speaking with people in the leather community and supporting leather clubs and festivals,” Nicol said.

“Unfortunately, the last winner was expected to get around to all these things by himself.”

The travel fund is named after Patrick Brookes, the only Australian to win the International Mr Leather title. Brookes won in Chicago in 1980, but Nicol said he was struck by how few people in the community knew about him.

“Until I started doing research into the competition I’d never heard of Patrick and I thought it was a great shame that someone who’d had such a great achievement wasn’t being acknowledged,” he said.

Nicol, who runs Melbourne fetishwear institution Lucrezia & De Sade, began a search for Brookes through the gay press and found him living in Newtown, Sydney, now in his 70s.

“It was entirely appropriate that we named the trust after him so it could work as both a travel fund for the current winner and a sort of archive so the community wouldn’t forget an achievement like Patrick’s again,” Nicols said.

The launch coincides with the 30th anniversary of Brookes’ win. A Sydney launch is also planned in February which Patrick Brookes is expected to attend along with past and present title-holders.

info: For more on the Patrick Brookes Trust visit www.thebrookestrust.com.au

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