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Community Group Spotlight: Salt Lake City Leather Pride

If Brian was a plant, he’d be a crocus, a fragile blossom in full bloom with his face turned toward the sun, delicate and beautiful. So when he invited me to a meeting for Salt Lake City Leather Pride to learn more about their group, the cognitive dissonance was real. Brian was part of the leather community? I’m good at challenging stereotypes, and as a result, rarely do stereotypes challenge me, but this caught me off guard. I was intrigued. What was this fascinating part of my community I’d been missing? I was about to find out, and in case you need a spoiler to keep reading, I wasn’t disappointed.

When I arrived at Try-Angles for the meeting, a man with a gorgeous handlebar mustache, sunglasses and a flat-brimmed Panama hat sat at the head of the table, looking like a king consulting with a dozen of his esteemed advisors. I soon learned I didn’t imagine his air of authority. Michael Sanders has been volunteering for our community for four decades, and everyone at the table treated him with the respect due someone who has given back for so long. Aside from the laundry list of other contributions he’s made through community action, he founded Utah Leather Pride many years ago and is now part of Salt Lake City Leather Pride, which will hold their inaugural festival this year. I was in the presence of a local legend.

But still, I couldn’t put my finger on what Salt Lake City Leather Pride was. Were they a meet-up group? A festival? Was there even more to it? Turns out the answers are yes, yes, and yes. They are a meet-up group. There’s even Leather Church. I know, right? I want to go, too. And yes, there’s a festival. It happens in October (details below - see you there). And yes, there is more to it.

So why do all those people show up to volunteer again and again throughout the year? Because, like most of our community groups, they’re united behind a common purpose. The money raised from the Salt Lake City Leather Pride’s events benefit UAF Legacy Health Clinic, a place that “provides cross-culturally responsive healthcare for LGBTQ+ Utahns, people living with HIV, and their allies.”

I took a deep breath and didn't cry, but boy, was it close. I lost my favorite uncle (Wally) to AIDS in the early 90s, and yes, I’m both salty and tender about it still. Because of the way people with HIV were treated back then, I may never get over losing Wally, and I’m deeply grateful for places like the UAF Legacy Health Clinic that approach HIV with love, openness and respect. So now that I understood (and loved) the why, I wanted more details about the what and the when.

Surprisingly, when the meeting started, Michael lit a cigar and stayed quiet while Max with his turquoise plugs, livewire hair and intense eyes conducted business. Max announced that vendor sign-ups are trickling in with lots of spots still open, which means if you’re interested in vending at their festival, you can still snag yourself a spot by talking to Nathan Layton, Vendor Coordinator (details below). Jared Lofgren and Chris Trujillo reported on entertainment. Turns out they also have spots open. Interested parties should contact them through the website.

Speaking of which, Jonathan Haglund got a well-deserved cheer for standing up the website. Watch that space for more details as we get closer to the event.

Ed Turner and distinguished “Grandfather” Russ Eisenberg with his curled mustache reported on fundraising and the silent auction. They still need more donations, and if you have something to donate to the silent auction, please contact them (details below).

Social media guru and photographer, Farook, who is so adorable he almost made me wish I was a cute gay boy, discussed social media blasts and plans for his next photo shoot. 

Michael announced that discussions are underway for lead judge for Mr. Leather SL❤️UT, and rumor has it they are working on signing diverse, representative judges from all corners of our community. This aligns perfectly with our Transform Pride theme at the SLC Pride festival and SLC Leather Pride’s goal of attracting a younger, more diverse crowd, so how can we not shout this from the rooftops? If you want to be crowned Mr. Leather SL❤️UT in October and wear that sexy leather sash, watch their website, because registration will be opening soon.

Finally, the crew went over the details of the Big Gay Car Wash being held on June 15th at the Millcreek town square, another event benefiting UAF Legacy Health Clinic. The local fire department will provide the final rinse of the cars, so make sure you show up, get your car washed and show your support for this amazing crew.

Of course, they'll have a booth at the SLC Pride festival at the end of the month, so swing by and learn more about this fantastic group of people. Sit in on one of the two panels where they are providing expertise (Leather and Consent) or help them out by sponsoring purchases for their event. This community is fortunate to have groups like this, so please don't hesitate to show them your support and love and if you're not already into leather, who knows? Maybe you'll discover the perfect kink for you.

Calendar of Events for SLC Leather Pride:

  • June 15th - Big Gay Car Wash 12:00-4:00 pm (Millcreek Common, 1354 E Chambers Ave, Millcreek, UT)

  • Leather Church, 3rd Sunday of every month, 3:00-6:00pm at Try-Angles

  • October 6th - Salt Lake City Leather Pride Festival - 1:00-8:00 pm (Milk+ 49 E 900 South, SLC, UT)

Contacts for SLC Leather Pride:

Around the table (left to right) - Me (Tami Mandarino), Jonathan Hagland (website), Jared Lofgren (entertainment), Brian Rodriguez (volunteer coordinator and community group liaison), Ed Turner (fundraising and business development), Russ Eisenberg (fundraising), Jacob Buck (founder of Stonewall Sports), Michael Sanders (local legend), Angela Simister (Queen of the Babes and Charitable Liaison), Max Garrett (SLC Leather Pride festival director), Chris Trujillo (entertainment), Nathan Layton (vendor coordinator), Nathan (stage manager and board member, The Royal Court of the Golden Spike Empire), Farook Khan (social media guru and photographer) and Kate Rusk (Creative Director of SLC Pride).


Tami Mandarino (she/her) - Pansexual, drug felon with a 5+ year incarceration history. Lifelong struggle with ADHD and major depressive disorder. Survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault. Badass witch. As I like to say about myself, I’ve seen some things, and those things make me strong, powerful and beautiful. Now that I live in the ‘burbs and could be mistaken for a soccer mom, I speak publicly about my past so we can break the stigmas that hurt our communities. When I’m not writing software at my day job or volunQueering for SLC Pride at night, I write contemporary YA novels under the pen name Tami Morning about issues facing youth today like poverty, climate anxiety and the necessity of choosing your family. If you catch a mistake in any of my articles or know a better/more sensitive way to say something, please shoot me an email at, and thank you for helping me grow.

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