Aleksei Grachev – President St. Petersburg Leather Club, Russia (21/89)

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© John O’Brien

Our St. Petersburg Leather Club SPBLeather Club was formed as an addition to our same bear club SPBears in October 2015 and became the first leather club in Russia. It was not easy for us, given the difficult homophobic situation in the country. But we understood that it was necessary for us, both leather and bears.

In the spring of 2016, I received a letter from our friend Uwe, President of the Hamburg Leather Club, in which he announced the interest of the ECMC Secretary Daniel Dumont in our club and his offer to start cooperation with this European organization. So began my friendship with Daniel, this wonderful and kind man. An invitation followed from Daniel to participate in the ECMC AGM in Helsinki in 2016. Not only that, knowing the complexity of our situation, Daniel offered to help financially with my participation in all events through the ECMC. It was so unexpected and amazing, even awkward, but I understood – our club is given the rarest chance to present itself at such a significant event, especially the anniversary in honor of Tom of Finland.In 2017 we gained probationary membership in the ECMC, and soon received on Daniel’s initiative an honorary Trophy from Sixty-Nine Club with the right to add our club to the prestigious list of clubs – members of the Trophy. 2018 was marked for our club by the holding of the first official event in Russia – SPBLeather Russian Pride with the election of the first Mr. Leather Russia, Ivan. Daniel was very interested in this event and arranged to visit us in Petersburg. The support of our club and our official event at such a high level was simply invaluable, this support gave us strength and confidence in the correctness of the chosen path. And all of this was thanks to Daniel.

To my great regret in Rome at the ECMC conference, I last met Daniel. We managed to only talk a little and decided that next time we will definitely sit and drink coffee, in Nice. No one could have expected Daniel to leave us…Thank you, Daniel, for everything you have done for us and for Russia. Thank you for your good attitude towards me, for your friendship and help in everything. You’re in my heart, Forever.

Written by Jeroen Van Lievenoogen

Jeroen is publisher of Alphatribe magazine

Cathal Mulvany Mr Leather Ireland 2016 (20/89)

Brian Licken – Treasurer LUBE Dublin (22/89)