Detroit’s Premier Leather Club Celebrates 25 Years of Service, Friendship, Leather and Kink
ICON Detroit is celebrating their 25th anniversary this year. Unlike the average leather club, this nonprofit was established in February 1993 by the “Original Six” – friends with a keen interest in leathermen and S&M. These founding fathers – Kevin, Larry, Michael, Eric, Buck and Alleycat – could not find a leather group that fit their cause. Most leather clubs during that time were just social clubs that got together to play. So they started their own club and evolved into a unique group of men who wanted to represent and fight for those living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. The sword in their logo signifies their pledge to lead the fight against HIV/AIDS within the Detroit leather community. “Our founders always wanted to give back to the community which was not occurring with other leather clubs at the time,” said Burns pointing to their fundraising efforts for various groups dedicated to HIV/AIDS prevention, care, community research and advocacy. This includes UNIFIED – HIV Health & Beyond (formerly AIDS Partnership Michigan), and Mr. Friendly, which ICON Detroit was the first club to designate as a recipient of charitable giving. Burns remembers when they volunteered to be ushers in their leather gear at the then annual prayer vigil for “people who care about people with AIDS.” Other charities ICON Detroit has supported over the years are the Ruth Ellis Center, the Triangle Foundation (now Equality Michigan), the Wellness House of Michigan, PFLAG, W.A.G.S. & Friends Alliance, and the national leather charity, CLAW (Cleveland Leather Annual Weekend), which named ICON Detroit 2017 Club of the Year. Burns said the plan of the “Original Six” was to “enhance the bond of friendship between us and seek other like-minded people that we thought would be excellent additions to our group.” The goal, he said, was to learn more about the leather community and all it entails. “Then we could educate others. We would also join in the battle against something that had a hold on our community – the AIDS crisis. Many people thought the leather community to be one-dimensional – sex day in and day out,” he said. “ICON Detroit wanted to show that in fact there are several layers to our community … camaraderie, a sense of caring and a fun loving spirit. One of the areas the club has grown the most is with its charity contributions – whether hands on or monetary.” After 25 years, ICON Detroit is still instigating fun, educating others, organizing fundraisers for local charities and helping members of the community in need. As they celebrate their silver anniversary, Burns said they are proud to boast their long list of accomplishments for men inside the gay and bisexual community. According to ICON Detroit’s website, the club was one of the first to have a female full member (Brenda). “The club was progressive and multicultural from its inception, with members from many ethnic backgrounds including white, black and Latino – in fact, during the decade before ICON Detroit was formed, several U.S. leather clubs did not accept full members who were people of color.” The leather community has expanded in the last 25 years. Many aspects of the leather community include new aesthetics and forms of expression. On changing with the trends inside the male leather community, Burns said, “We have grown alongside the entire leather community. We have included the new emerging offshoots of our community, such as pups, handlers, skinheads and others. We have plans to further engage ourselves more into hands on help in the leather community.” Burns said, “The future is boundless for ICON Detroit. Much progress has been made in regards to health issues, but many people still need our assistance. Also, there are many newbies that the club is always willing and capable to train, teach and mentor.”
For more information, visit https://icondetroit.org/, https://facebook.com/icondetroit/ or https://facebook.com/menjoscomplex/.