tlc: year with
a leather club

a documentary by Randy A. Riddle



A common theme that cropped up during the interviews for the TLC documentary was the sense of community and shared purpose.  Even though the various members have different interests expressed in the club’s work and their own individual expression of the Leather/SM lifestyle, they come together for efforts that benefit not only themselves, but the community at large. 

Each year, the members of TLC hold a "toy drive", staging shows at local bars to raise money and collect toys for children affected by the HIV virus.  The group has raised thousands of dollars over the years through fundraisers for groups such as the local Gay and Lesbian hotline or even for individuals in the Gay community who have fallen on hard times because of a fire or other personal disaster.  TLC singing at the NAMES Project - photo (c) by Michael Cox

Many of the individuals involved in the Tarheel Leather Club have also been active in other community organizations such as Alternative Resources of the Triad, Men of All Colors Together, or the Triad Health Project.  Bill pointed out one evening during the shooting of the documentary that the club has a tendency to attract individuals who are "doers" – people who create change in the world around them rather than waiting for someone else to do it for them. 

Member Kevin Drewery was a key member of Greensboro OUT, a political group similar to ACT-UP.  Members David Wr. and Franc S. donated their time to the Triad Health Project, and helped the organization in its outreach to the Gay community about Safe Sex.  Janet was once head of the Gay and Lesbian student group at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  Stuart Norman was involved with the Gay Academic Union and, along with Bill, served on the board of directors of the National Leather Association. 

Besides getting good work done, the club has been a very visible component of the Greensboro Gay and Lesbian community.  During the shooting of the documentary, for example, the group was called on to help with setup of a showing of panels from the NAMES Project Quilt that took place at the Greensboro Coliseum.  TLC went the extra mile – raising funds to help cover the costs of the showing, acting as ushers at the event, performed as a chorus at the event, and, in an emotional moment, donated a panel to honor seven TLC members who had succumbed to the disease.  The club was even featured in a remarkable local television news report, included in the documentary, and was interviewed at length by the local press about the Project and their own losses to AIDS.