On June 4th of this year, Chip Wegner was named the first ever Mr. Gay Days Leather.  With any contest or pageant title comes a journey filled with responsibilities and charitable quests throughout the year of the title holding.  Hotspots Central recently sat down with Chip and asked him about his Journey (past, present and future) of being the first Mr. Gay Days Leather.

1 – What got you into the leather scene and how long have you been a part of it?

When I first came out I wasn’t interested in female impersonators or dancing. (This is manly what my local gay bar offered, so I explored other options.)  I identified more with the bear crowd, which lead me down the path to leather.   I found leather to be masculine, enticing, mysterious, and erotic.  The thought of being dominated by a guy in full dress leather, being shown different kinks, being part of a leather club, this was all very alluring for me, and it is a path I chose to follow.

As far as how long, I guess it’s always been in my heart, but actively pursued since 1987.  Maybe the interested peeked or was instilled with Glenn Hughes from the Village people in 1977.  My first harness was fashioned after his, out of dog leashes and metal o-rings.  I wore it to my first IML/Bear Pride in 1995 with a vest, boots, blue jeans and leather baseball cap.

2 – Have you ever competed in any competitions in the past and if so, did you place?

I have, I was Mr. Bear Pride in 2001, and I was also Northern Plains Leather Sir 2012.

There were a few other contests along the way, with runner up placements.

This was the 6th contest that I have been involved with, so to those of you that get discouraged because you did not place, keep at it. Use your previous attempts as learning tools, get your judges score sheet if you can and pay close attention to the judge’s comments.

3 – Why did you decide to participate in the Mr. Gay Days Leather 2017 competition?
A few friends of mine encouraged me to enter.

4 – With it being the first year, how do you think the competition went?

With this being a brand new competition, I was very impressed with how it went.

5 – What was your initial reaction when you heard your name announced as the winner of Mr. Gay Days Leather 2017?

I was in a little bit of shock and surprise.  It really hit about an hour after the pool parties, when I was in my room.  I shed a lot of happy tears and started realizing the journey that I had ahead of me.  I was actually wishing two guys that I refer to as my dad’s would have been there to share in the joy, and help calm me down.

6 – With any title comes responsibilities and charitable quests throughout the year of your title holding.   What do you plan to do and why is that a passion of yours?

I am a big dog lover, and locally we have a nonprofit no kill dog rescue, I am in the process of having vest pins made and will be asking for a $5.00 donation per pin with profits going to this rescue.
When I am traveling to events with my title, if any group needs help raising money and I have time to help, all they need to do is ask I am more than willing to lend a hand.
I would like to use my title to spread the message of Unity.  We are one global GLBT family.

The infighting and division/labeling of groups/individuals, the fat shaming, slut shaming, PrEP shaming needs to stop.  United we stand, divided we fall.
As a title-holder, we represent our community, we need to lead by example.  This is a give back to our community. There are some organizations that either don’t qualify for federal or state funding that do good in our communities whether it is an animal rescue or an STD/HIV free clinic.  These are the organizations that we need to support.  I am hoping that our examples of charity work, volunteering and fund raising will get more people involved no matter what generation they are from, title holder or not.

7 – Are you excited to compete in IML 2018?

This is IML’s 40th anniversary, and I am very excited that I get to be a part of it as a contestant.

8 – If you could give any advice to someone who is on the fence about participating in a competition of this nature, what would it be?   
Talk to those that have been around for a long time. Make sure you know your leather history, where we came from, why certain articles of dress hold special meaning to some, why you are competing for the title, and what responsibilities you would have if you won the title. Make sure you dress appropriately for each category, most importantly – Be yourself, have fun, and go for it.  Win or lose it is a great experience.

9 – Who inspires you in the leather community?

While this looks like an easy question to answer, it is not.  There are and have been so many, some that are still with us, and others who have passed.  I would have to say those that inspired me the most are those that are out in their communities work and advocating for LGBT rights, working in charitable organizations or helping to raise funds for those organizations, those who mentor others, and those who are leading by example.

The next Mr. Gay Days Leather competition takes place on June 3rd 2018.  For more information, visit www.gaydays.com