Smith-Page2 copyPatrick Smith is International Mr. Leather 2015, Mr. Los Angeles Leather 2015 and Eagle LA Mr. Leather 2015. Patrick first came to Los Angeles in 2011 from his hometown of Winnipeg, Canada, to pursue his MBA at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. There he served as the head of corporate relations for Out@Anderson, the LGBT student association. He is involved in fundraising for the Point Foundation, the national scholarship fund which empowers disadvantaged LGBT students to achieve their full academic and leadership potential.

Active in politics, Patrick’s writing on LGBT issues has been published by The Advocate, HIV Equal and Bear World Magazine. He also served as assistant to the Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada.

As International Mr. Leather, Patrick’s focus is on international and domestic LGBT political activism. He is committed to visiting not just places with established LGBT representation, but those parts of the world where our community is still on the fringes of society.

Patrick lives in the historically significant Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, home of the Black Cat demonstrations of 1967, with his husband and love of his life, Michael. He currently works as Senior Manager of Business Development for Marvel Studios, where he takes inspiration from the many superheroes clad in their tight leather gear.

What was most surprising about your trip to Uganda knowing how that country views the LGBT community?

People in Uganda are incredibly friendly, warm and accepting, despite the reputation for the country being deeply homophobic. Perhaps I was expecting a society that was more reserved in general. Granted, I wasn’t walking around waving a rainbow flag, but people really went out of their way to make me feel welcome there. I think it goes to show that sexual minorities are simply misunderstood – there isn’t enough familiarity with gay people there. Once that familiarity exists, even if it takes 50 years, I have no doubt they will open their hearts. They are an incredibly warm and friendly society.

You met with Dr. Frank Mugisha, the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize nominee and executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda. What ways did you come away with that U.S. citizens can help in fighting the  “kill the gays” bill and similar legislation in Uganda or other countries looking to adopt similar bills?

There are a couple of things that can be done. First, these groups are in need of funding. Changing hearts and minds also takes cash, which is something I’m planning to help with in terms of fundraisers going forward. We should also be holding our politicians accountable to exert

diplomatic pressure on governments that are guilty of this discrimination. I asked activists if they thought the government would pass further anti-gay legislation, and they said no. They said the international outcry was so great the last go-around, lawmakers wouldn’t dare put the country through it again. That’s the kind of pressure we need to be putting on foreign governments. Finally, we need to call attention to the fact that American anti-gay groups are actively engaged in passing horrific legislation in countries like Uganda. There needs to be pressure from within the US to have them registered as hate groups and to cut off their funding sources.

You also met with Rev. Mark Kiyimba, the leader of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Kampala, who promotes Christianity’s compatibility with homosexuality.  How did your conversations with him work toward finding ways to assist him on his mission?

Again, funding is an issue here. It’s important to show Ugandans that a pro-LGBT church can grow and thrive. Rev. Kiyimba is currently hoping to expand his footprint in Kawanda by building a secondary school (currently he operates the primary school in the region), but funding is an issue. That’s something I’d love to help him with.

Smith-Page3 copyWhat inspirations did you get from visiting Uganda and your role as Mr. International Leather in helping those in countries who oppress the LBGT communities?

It was an incredible experience, but a somber one. It’s hard to explain, but it surprised me how different it was hearing these stories while actually being there, as opposed to reading about from it thousands of miles away. On my last day there, well-known Ugandan football manager Chris Mubiru was convicted under the country’s sodomy law, which carries with it an 18-year prison sentence. Actually being there in that country when the story broke felt much different than reading it from afar. It really hit home that this is the reality for thousands of LGBT people in Africa, and it could happen to any one of them.

Internationally there seems to be more activism in relation to oppression issues, but here not so much.  How do you think as Mr. IML, you will be able to put the “move” into movement and get our U.S. communities to go beyond hitting the “like” button on social networks?

I’m afraid that as a community we might be tempted to sit back now that the major battles, like marriage equality, have been won. But part of my goal here is to call attention to the fact that while we may have it pretty good in the U.S., there are still major problems for LGBT people internationally and it’s time to help them out more. Don’t get me wrong – there is still work to do domestically, but I have no doubt things are moving toward a resolution. Employment non-discrimination will never pass congress with its current composition, but as soon as there are Democratic majorities and a Democratic president, we will get it. And we are so close to a cure for HIV, which will help our community globally.

On a lighter note… one of our mutual friends (who shall remain nameless…ahhumm, Eric) mentioned that the Mr. LA Leather contest was delayed by 30 minutes because you had a wardrobe malfunction.  So we all saw how nicely those leather pants looked on stage.  Given the stress and time to get it going…how did you ‘reset’ yourself so when you got on stage to present?   Did you find humor in it? Did your leather brothers come to assist?

Yes, guilty as charged! I had some beautiful chaps custom-made by Adrian at Rough Trade. I designed the look myself, and I also told him to make them as tight as humanly possible. I wanted them to look like they were painted on me (and they did). The problem was that they were so tight, it took two handlers a very, very long time just to get them zipped up. Surprisingly I was pretty calm about it – and yes I did see the humor. I knew they weren’t going to start the show without Mr. Eagle LA!

It seems that Charlie Mutula (Eagle LA Bar Owner) has a knack for encouraging potential contestants, now with back-to-back, Mr. IML’s.  Though not unprecedented, it is a good streak.  For those considering entering the leather contest circuit, how did that first conversation of encouraging you to enter get you to take that first step?

I’m actually Charlie’s one and only IML. (Move over, Eric, I’m the favorite son!) But in all seriousness, Eric has done a really fantastic job with his title globally and the work he continues to do is inspiring. Once I did meet with Charlie, he was extremely helpful in pointing me in the direction of some great people for advice, including Eagle LA Mr. Leather 2012 Andre Chambers and Mr. Sister Leather 2010 Don Mike. They were invaluable in helping me prepare.

I know you leather brother Mr. LA Leather 2014 Eric Paul Leue has been of great help and encouragement to you.  Eric has a very boyish and fun wit about him and yet he can be very serious and business oriented.  What was the funniest advice he gave to you?

Eric is a social media freak, and I mean that as a compliment. So I took it very seriously when he had a social media intervention for me, and told me I wasn’t posting enough sexy pics to Facebook. So now you have Eric to thank for all the gratuitous almost-naked photos of myself that show up on your news feed.

What has been the funniest or most humorous thing that has happened to you since becoming Mr. IML?

I was in Berlin, and I wanted to go to a rubber party at a very exclusive nightclub there. Despite our outfits being 100% rubber, our group was turned away at the door for being “not fetish enough.” Yes, apparently your IML is “not fetish enough” and his celebrity powers do not extend into Berlin’s rubber scene. Next time I’ll have to bring a gas mask, I suppose? Maybe that will do the trick.

 

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