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by Cain Berlinger

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Happy New Year 2004!

Well I hope you have all recovered from the madness known as the holidays. We eat too much, drink too much, but we have a great time living, laughing, and loving folks we most likely won't see again till the end of this year!

I hope everyone had as much fun as they intended and more. In my household we all exchanged handmade gifts. Gifts that come from the heart and included our blood, sweat and tears, especially those of us who have no Martha Stewart craft skills to speak of! However, I strongly recommend a return to old-fashioned values, it's cheap(er) and fun.

Last year there was so much going on in the gay community as a whole, around the world, that it is impossible to measure the strides of one segment of our community without including all segments. The Leather Community is a small faction of the gay community and it is more important than ever to put aside our differences and prejudices within our community and band together to put forward what has been commonly referred to as our agenda.

Michael are you listening?

In May 2001 Veteran Boxer Obletei became the laughing stock of his country. The Ghanian fighter not only lost his belt in a national super-featherweight bout, but also was shamed before a championship audience who watched his skin quite literally peel away. As reported in the Ghana News Agency, Oblitei's opponent opened a cut in his right cheek that his cornermen just could not close. Then his nostrils and his right ear tore open, leaving him bleeding profusely, only to be jeered by the hostile crowd. The reason his skin fell apart? He'd been bleaching it, a popular treatment in Ghana and other West African countries, to trade his dark appearance for a lighter one. The practice has gone on since the 1500s; Ghanians have been using home recipes and creams to lighten their skin. Kenya and Senegal have banned their usage. In America the chemicals used were deemed a carcinogen also used in the development of photographs and were banned in 1995. Village Voice Jan. 2001

In Bowen Hills, Australia Church leader Rev. Dennis Corowa says gay behavior shames Blacks, and same-sex unions shame even further because ... 'This business of same-sex relationships comes from white culture and white people.' Corowa says gay relationships are not a part of aboriginal culture. I wonder how they feel about BDSM relationships? Your honor, relevance?

Discuss among yourselves Dept.: How pervasive is the 'DL' in the Leather Community among African-Americans? I can remember when faces of color were as unseen at leather events as females at Chicago Hellfire meetings! Since those olden days, there has been a proliferation of workshops, articles, venues and gatherings encouraging men of color to take an active part in the growth of the leather/ kink/fetish community in a capacity that goes beyond lip service or simply purchasing tickets to events.

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