February 13, 2008 – The American Family News Network posted an inflammatory article condemning the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force for honoring Guy Baldwin with their Leather Leadership Award at the 20th National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change, on February 6-10, 2008 (www.thetaskforce.org).
According to the February 7th article:
Peter LaBarbera, executive director of Americans for Truth commented that he is not sure if he is more surprised by one of the sponsors of the event or by one of the activists who will be honored. "It’s incredible to me," he continues. "But the Democratic Party is endorsing an event where they’re actually presenting an award for sadomasochism."
A sponsorship acknowledgement notes that the Democratic National Committee gave at least $2,500 to help pay for the event. The recipient of the "Leather Leadership Award" is Guy Baldwin, a psychotherapist who has successfully lobbied against treating sadomasochism as a mental health problem.
To see the entire article, go to: http://www.onenewsnow.com/Culture/Default.aspx?
In point of fact, the Democratic National Committee did not sponsor Creating Change or the Leather Leadership Award.
The Task Force does have a strong history of supporting the BDSM-leather-fetish communities. In previous years, this included awarding their Leather Leadership Award to Dave Rhodes of The Leather Journal and Tony DeBlase, creator of the Leather Pride Flag, as well as providing tracks and roundtables for activists dedicated to leather community issues.
"Those who persecute our communities know that The Task Force and the BDSM-leather-fetish communities have shared agendas in promoting tolerance and non-discrimination for sexual minorities, including those involved in alternate lifestyles. We grow stronger the more we stand together," says NCSF Spokesperson Susan Wright.
From Guy Balwin’s acceptance speech for the Leather Leadership Award at Creating
"One of the many reasons it is important for The Task Force to be sending these signals of acknowledgement and legitimacy out to the LGBTIQQ world is that when our enemies in the struggle for self-determination look in our direction, they can’t see the amazing diversity represented in a room like this one. No, to our enemies, we all look the same. They make none of the distinctions that we, ourselves, have made. To our enemies, garbage is garbage, no matter what color we are…..how old we are…..how we smell, or how we play. And that’s just one reason it’s important that we build bridges between our diverse communities and that’s why this award to me today matters to all our communities. But the effort to build these bridges will be
wasted unless they are vigilantly maintained from both sides." b Guy Baldwin
We ask you to send a short note of appreciation to the Task Force:
Roberta Sklar, Communications Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Dear Ms. Sklar,
Thank you for your recognition and inclusion of the BDSM-leather-fetish communities in your annual conference, Creating Change. The Leather Caucus and workshops on alternative sexuality have been very important to the LGBT members of our communities, providing a place where we can gather with our peers and discuss activist issues.
I congratulate you on choosing to give your Leather Leadership Award this year to Guy Baldwin for his activist efforts on behalf of the leather community. I proudly support The Task Force and am glad to join together on our common and shared goals of equality for all Americans.
Guy Baldwin is a Los Angeles-based psychotherapist, author and activist on behalf of "erotically uncommon people." Baldwin may be best known for his monthly essays which appeared in Drummer Magazine and were collected in his 1993 book, Ties That Bind. Baldwin is a former titleholder, having served in 1989 as Mister National Leather Association and also as the 11th International Mr. Leather. In 1987, Baldwin launched the DSM Project to mobilize mental health professionals worldwide to press for changes to the official clinical definitions that had long been used to label leather people, gay and otherwise, as pathological. The DSM Project succeeded with the publication of new and substantially improved language in 1993 in the Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom is a national organization committed to creating a political, legal, and social environment in the United States that advances equal rights of consenting adults who practice forms of alternative sexual expression. NCSF is primarily focused on the rights of consenting adults in the SM-leather-fetish, swing, and polyamory communities, who often face discrimination because of their sexual expression.
National Coalition for Sexual Freedom
822 Guilford Avenue, Box 127
Baltimore, MD 21202-3707