Submitted by Nigel, aka SubDirectory (3), 20 December 2015
You don't know what you've got till it's gone, sang Joni Mitchell and sadly that's all too often been the case with leather bars, which is one of the reasons we started the BLUF 12x12 pledge back at the beginning of 2012.
It's not just leather bars, of course - in some cities ordinary gay bars have closed as well. And when they do, you often hear people saying "That's a shame, it was a really good place. Of course, I've not been for ages myself, but ..."
Right there - that's part of the problem. If we want our bars, and particularly our leather bars, to thrive, we have to make an effort to get out to them. The basics behind the 12x12 campaign were to encourage people to get out in their gear, at least twelve times in twelve months.
We'd love people to do more, but we reckon once a month isn't too hard is it?
In London, we've just had a close shave, with the capital's longest established and only remaining leather bar, The Backstreet. Major electrical problems saw it close in October and it took two months get a new supply cable laid, and the power hooked back up.
That culminated in the official re-opening party last night, which BLUF was proud to support, and for which we also arranged a special Xmas give-away.
Perhaps absence makes the heart grow fonder, or perhaps more people remember Joni Mitchell's song than I thought - as we had an excellent turn out. And the generosity of the companies who gave gifts for the raffle was amazing - there really is a lot of love for The Backstreet in London.
We were lucky - the closure that made everyone realise what they had was just temporary, and our local leather bar here has weathered this storm.
But not all will do that, unless everyone makes an effort to get out and support them. So, as you're thinking about resolutions for 2016, please do remember - our BLUF 12x12 pledge is just as important now as it was then. Don't let your local leather bar be turned into a parking lot.