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AFTAH stages Leather Archives demonstration
by Matt Simonette

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More counter-protestors than protestors showed up for a planned demonstration against the Leather Archives & Museum, 6418 N. Greenview Ave., on May 22.

The demonstration was planned by the anti-gay organization Americans For Truth About Homosexuality ( AFTAH ) and its founder, Peter LaBarbera.

Only LaBarbera and three others showed up to speak out against the Museum, while about 20 supporters, many from the neighborhood, showed up in counter-protest, said Rick Storer, the Museum's executive director.

"We found out about it at about 4 p.m. the day before, when Peter LaBarbera tweeted about it," said Storer. "I was curious as to why the emphasis on the Leather Archives, when there were about 12,000 people at the Congress Hotel for IML."

Local residents learned of the demonstration thanks to fliers that were affixed to neighborhood windshields the day before. The fliers said, "The 'Leather Archives & Museum'… celebrates the most heinous and vile sadomasochistic behaviors ever invented by mankind—acts so twisted we cannot even describe them here. This includes 'Macho Sluts,' a book of 'fiction' with a pedophilic-incest fantasy."

The flier urged locals to contact 40th Ward Alderman Patrick O'Connor about the Museum's proximity to local schools.

"Children deserve better," the flier continued. "A homosexual perversion 'museum' that celebrates consensual sexual violence, human degradation—and even sexual 'slavery' and pedophilia—should not be located near schools—period."

"I stayed inside the museum while they held their press conference outside," said Storer, adding, "It didn't impact us, or impede our business, at all."

LaBarbera has long advocated against IML, and his lurid accounts on the AFTAH website have become somewhat notorious for their attention to detail. In 2014, he was blocked from entering Canada, when he was scheduled for a protest in Regina, Saskatchewan. He appealed however, and was allowed to enter the country, only to be later arrested for mischief at the University of Regina. He was found not guilty in November, 2014.

LaBarbera did not respond by press time to a request from Windy City Times for comment about the May 22 protest.

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