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FilmOut San Diego: Documenting another history with screening of "Kink Crusaders"

This article was originally published HERE by SDGLN media partner Gay San Diego.

SAN DIEGO -- For FilmOut San Diego’s August monthly screening, the LGBT film organization is partnering with FetishMen San Diego, in part to draw attention to and bring together a part of our community that is often marginalized.

Together they are screening the documentary “Kink Crusaders,” a 2011 film that delves into the world of the leather and kink communities while documenting the International Mr. Leather (IML) contest from 2008 to 2010. The screening takes place 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 15 at the Birch North Park Theatre.

In addition to interviewing several past IML winners, Director Michael Skiff also interviewed and captured IML founder Chuck Renslow, who gave the OK for Skiff to make the film after Skiff worked on previous IML competitions.

Skiff is a reporter who has covered the LGBT civil rights movement on film for several years of his career – including extensive work on the Proposition 8 saga as well as reaction to the recent Chick-Fil-A boycott – and will be attending the Aug. 15 screening.

“One of the things I was very interested in was how the [IML] contest had evolved over the years,” Skiff said of making the film. “I wanted to see how different people of different demographics were actually coming together for this, and I wanted to give them all a place to possibly have a voice.”

In San Diego, the voice of the fetish community is steadily increasing, evidenced by a growing number of people attending social nights at local bars, monthly discussion groups and, for Tony Lindsey, new online members for FetishMen San Diego.

Lindsey, the group’s founder, said they have over 3,000 registered members, with more signing up each day. However, Lindsey said he wants to use partnerships like the one with FilmOut, for example, to expand that online presence outside of the home.

“In order to have people come away from the internet, you have to provide what the internet cannot and never will, such as community,” Lindsey said. “It’s a golden opportunity for us to just all be brothers together, with a shared interest and shared perspective.”

Another opportunity for community building Lindsey helped create for FetishMen occurs in their monthly discussion groups, held at Pleasures & Treasures in North Park. The groups have become so popular, he said, they will begin meeting weekly – every Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. – starting Aug. 22.

“The reason why this is important is because … the people who come to these things yearn for connections. They starve for it,” Lindsey said. “When they come to these events – what I love about them – is that people feel connected.”

Being connected is a concept Skiff understands well in regards to “Kink Crusaders,” a perspective he has several years after wrapping filming on the documentary and working through editing, distribution and screenings. Skiff said he now sees the film as a way to help make people connected.

“I’m amazed that I was able to make something that could be a tool for actually, entertainingly, bringing communities together,” he said. “I hope that ‘Kink Crusaders’ will, like FetishMen of San Diego coming out and rallying behind this, [create] a sense of how these communities do exist.”

However, Skiff said “Kink Crusaders” goes beyond bringing people together, to being a way to advance the LGBT civil rights movement by keeping a record of the past.

“In the moment, I didn’t think of it as a gay civil rights struggle, but I see it [now] as documenting and archiving our history,” Skiff said. “I just really wanted to be committed to making sure that I documented all that I could about what was happening in those moments.”

Again, Lindsey and Skiff seemingly coincide with their ideas, as Lindsey also said there was a need for archiving the fetish and kink movement.

“It is something that speaks to a need in the younger generation,” he said. “They want to find out what their roots are. They want to find out where they stand in relations to their own history.”

To help promote an under-35 attendance, Lindsey said he will hand over emcee duties at the FilmOut screening to a small group of young men from the organization. Including a question and answer period with Skiff, events scheduled for the evening include FilmOut’s monthly raffle and a special Gear Contest for audience members.

Skiff and Lindsey, along with Mr. San Diego Eagle 2012 Eli Correa, will be judging the contest. Preston Steele and Aaron Duke, who will both be participating in the Mr. San Diego Leather 2012 contest at the new ROMP San Diego event held Aug. 24 – 26, will also be in attendance.

Tickets and additional information

For more information about FetishMen San Diego click HERE. Tickets for the 7 pm screening on Aug. 15 are $10, and the Birch North Park Theatre is located at 2891 University Ave. For tickets to the screening click HERE or purchase them at the door.