A new Melbourne gay and lesbian leather association will be set up after concerns Melbourne Leather Pride (MLP) is not adequately representing the leather community and was unable to stage many of this year’s Leather Pride events.

Health promotion worker Nathan Niessen announced the new group — with the working name Melbourne Leather Community — was formed on July 11, after a group of 20 people, including leather businesses — met to discuss forming a breakaway leather group.

“I don’t want to play the blame game but we were concerned at the way [MLP] was being run. People felt that they weren’t being listened to in the community,” Niessen said.

“I’ve been speaking with a lot of people over the last six to eight weeks … and people have wanted to do something, but I have been able to get the key people together and receive the support I need.”

Niessen said the new group has set up a steering committee of around eight people which will come up with an official name for the group and start planning leather workshops and events.

A public meeting will be held in September where nominations for a more permanent board will be held. Niessen said those who own associated leather businesses will not be able to be part of the board, but will be consulted.

Niessen said Melbourne Leather Community already has the support of leather businesses Eagle Leather, Manhaus, and Lucrezia and De Sade, and the Laird Hotel.

He said he was confident the leather community would welcome the changes.

“There are a lot of people who want to get out there and show their leather with pride and unfortunately they feel they haven’t been able to,” he said.

“I know there is a lot of community support and enthusiasm for something new, something different.”

Niessen said moves to start a rival Mr Leather event — a key part of the MLP program — is not on the immediate agenda.

MLP new board spokesman Peter Leslie said he was pleased the new group was forming to represent a greater cross-section of the leather community.

“We hope we can work together to make the community a richer and more vibrant place,” he said. “Our aims are the same, so hopefully we shouldn’t be working at cross-purposes.”

MLP has already announced next year’s Leather Pride Festival will run from October 27 to November 11 with the Mr Leather Australia New Zealand competition on November 3.

“We remain committed to putting on the best events we can for the community and hope no one will put us at odds,” Leslie said.

Leslie also announced that current MLP director Alex Schoeffel will step down from his role as a new board is being appointed.

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