Submitted by Nigel Whitfield, BLUF webmaster, Nigel, aka SubDirectory (3), 03 February 2015
In January of this year, I was invited by the organisers of the GEARED Ireland night to present one of the prizes at their 'Three Kings" title holder event, which I was delighted to attend.
I was one of the judges at the event last year, when Brett was chosen to represent the club at home and abroad, and it was a delight to be able to return to see the new winners. This year, GEARED has chosen to have three title holders - Mr Leather Ireland, Mr Rubber Ireland, and Mr Geared Ireland, representing three different strands within the fetish scene.
I can safely say that my trip to Dublin was one of the friendliest leather events I've been to for a long time. The Irish are famed for their hospitality, of course, but I think that the people behind GEARED are doing an exceptional job - one of the reasons I was happy to nominate them for an X-Award this year.
Although the club is celebrating its second birthday this May, many of those involved have been working for the fetish scene in Ireland for a lot longer than that. Those who've been around Dublin for years, including visitors like myself, will remember groups such as LUBE (Leather, Uniform, Bear Encounter), Dresscode Dublin, and RULE, all of which have played their part in building up the scene.
As times have changed and attitudes have become more liberal - yes, even in Ireland - that hard work has paid off, and GEARED has done a tremendous job. It's especially important, I think, to recognise that all of these efforts have been voluntary and community based. The people involved in doing all this hard work in Dublin have given not just many hour over the years, but often a huge amount of their own money, to help build the scene up to where it is now.
That's one of the reasons BLUF is proud to offer our support to the team at GEARED, and to all the three title holders, especially Mr Leather Ireland. I think it's also a key part of why so many other groups and people from the European leather community, including Daniel Dumont of ECMC, and several international titleholders, were happy to support the title contest and to recognise it.
A lot of events are now pretty commercial affairs. There's no great shame in that, but they are almost always standing on the shoulders of those who have put in their hard work to build up a community. You can't simply create a fetish scene by running a commercial club night - it needs a lot of time and a lot of hard work, not just turning up and opening your wallet. Commercial and volunteer events can co-exist and even co-operate, but it's vital to the health of our scene, I believe, that we don't let commercial interests trample over those that are genuinely community based.
GEARED is a brilliant example of how persistence can pay off when it comes to building up a community. As I said earlier, it has taken many years, and various incarnations to build up the scene to this point. I know other people are trying to do similar things around Europe, including in some countries that are much less welcoming to LGBT people than Ireland. It can be disheartening, I know, when you organise events and turnout isn't great, or when outside factors cause problems, like venues suddenly being unwilling to host you any more. Even just persuading people to have the courage to be open about their fetish can be an uphill struggle.
What the guys at GEARED have shown is that it can be done. It may take a long time to get there, and there will be false starts and set-backs along the way. But if you're trying to do this, take inspiration from them - it can be done.
I'll be returning to Dublin in April, when the GEARED night on the 18th will be hosting BLUF. Please do come along - it's a great opportunity to see a different city, meet some great guys - including the very sexy title holders - and see an excellent and inspiring night at first hand. And, of course, great craic!
Update: The gallery below now shows some of the posters for Dublin events from 2008 onwards