tlc: year with
a leather club

a documentary by Randy A. Riddle


Interview Transcripts:
Gary H.


Gary H. shows the pins on his vest

Gary was involved with the Tarheel Leather Club during the "Beat Jesse" campaign. He lived in San Francisco in recent years, acting an "Ambassador at Large" for the club. Gary died from AIDS complications in December, 1995. He will be missed. 

All material (c) 1995, CCD. All rights reserved. 


RAR--What is an Ambassodor at Large? 

GH--An Ambassador at Large is anyone who has been a full member of the club and is going to be moving for job reasons or other specific reasons to another region of the country or even the world and is elected on by the membership to retain full member status as an ambassador, much as we have an ambassador to France from the United States, they have an ambassador to San Francisco through me. 

RAR--How did you first come to TLC? 

GH--Well, I was working in Charlotte at the time and had gotten a job offer from a department store in Greensboro and the people that had sort of pushed for me to get that job were members of TLC and one of them still is. When I got the job offer from the company in Greensboro, they offered for me to come up and stay with them. I had already known about the Tarheel Leather Club prior to that and decided to join it because I found alot of fellowship, brother and sisterhood in Leather. 

RAR--What are some of the aspects of TLC's work that you feel are important to the community at large? 

GH--One of the things that really got me excited about TLC was their wanting immediately after they formed the club to jump into the political arena with the Beat Jesse campaign. I enjoy getting out there and fighting for what I believe in and this gave me the opportunity to do just that. When Jesse Helms was going up for reelection, I couldn't sit back and watch him be reelected without trying to do something to keep him from continuing his bigotry and hatred campaign. 

RAR--Tell me about how you connect spirituality with Leather. GH--I have been exploring Native American spirituality. For myself, it has alot to do with rituals, rituals both in spirituality as well as sexuality. There are rites of passage, as it were, in both the spiritual context and the sexual context and Leatherpeople are able to express that through their own rituals where I am not only able to do that sexually, but also in my spiritual life. It's very enlightening on both ends of the spectrum. 
RAR--What do you think the appeal of Leather is for some people, what draws people to it? 

GH--I guess that the smell, the look, the feel, that all has something to do with what may initially attract someone. The spirit that's embodied in wearing the leather, not necessarily the leather, but just the shear emotion and raw energy that is produced by Leather and Leatherpeople is something I've never felt before. It's amazing, the connection that you can have with someone through that raw energy. It blows your mind. 

RAR--How would you compare someone's vest or colors to a kind of personal history? 

GH--Oh, I think there's a huge comparison between the pins on a vest and someone's history. It shows the people that they have come in contact with, it shows events they've been to, the places they've been, things they've done. There are alot of pins on here that have nothing to do with Leather-related functions for me--it has alot to do with my life as an individual. I am an individual first then everything else falls into line behind that. Being a Leatherperson only is a part of that, being a Gay man is a part of that, having AIDS is part of that--it all encompases, along with a number of other things, who I am.