What is Mx Olympus Leather and why did we feel it necessary to add a third title to the Olympus Leather Circuit?
Oxford defines Mx as a noun: A title used before a person's surname or full name by those who wish to avoid specifying their gender or by those who prefer not to identify themselves as male or female.
Oxford dictates that Mx originated in the "1970s: apparently from M (as in Mr, Mrs, Ms, etc.) + X (probably denoting an unknown or variable factor or quantity)."
Dave Rhodes founded Olympus Leather with the intent of giving a voice to every deserving leather person who was willing to compete and win the title without questioning your age, gender or identity. Olympus Leather contests have pushed the voices of those who were not seen (by popular view if not by the rules at the time, both of which are seem to be changing) at the time (mid 1990's) by the major contests ABW (gay only), IML and IMsL, and Drummer (gay men only) to be welcome since they identified as Trans or POC or bisexual or heterosexual. At the time, all of these contests were Cis-Gay strong. It is important to note that all generations of International Ms Leather led the way through the mostly gay landscape for POC and gender queer and women of all sexual preferences in its selection of titleholders.
When Olympus Leather changed ownership we (the new owners and remaining international and regional producers) felt that it was important to acknowledge the individuals in the community who did not identify as male or female. Olympus Leather was created in a binary society where you were male or female, we are no longer a binary society. This new title started as hushed conversations with gender neutral individuals from within and also out of the leather communities, Olympus Leather Regional Producers, we needed to decide what to call it. One thing was certain if we were going to do it, it needed to be announced at the 2017 contest. The deciding or tipping point conversation for me was a conversation I had with one title holder who stated why would I continue to use an honorific that predisposes me to either bias or privaledge based on my supposed gender? And the decision was made.
Why keep three titles? Why not just cut it down to a single International Olympus Leather Title since everyone should be equal? Simple, there is NOT equality. There are still uniquely different political issues that men, women and most certainly gender neutral folks face. Why Mr, Ms and Mx in that order (yes this has been a question) ... the genuine answer is this and it's glaringly simple alphabetical order.
Why back track and appoint Matt O'Toole to a title that was slated to start in 2018? There are few people who roll through life and find the courage of conviction to live their daily lives without apology. While it’s not uncommon for the Leather and Kink communities…It’s still not as common or as welcome as it should be. We as individuals are frequently caught up in preconceived societal notions of gender to gain or fight some privilege or bias. As it becomes more common I have found few who are willing to cross the lines of their chosen gender to fight the fight where it can be fought. I am grateful to Matt for showing me that my choice of creating the Mx Title for Olympus Leather was spot on. I was ready for them in my heart, but completely, utterly, and physically unprepared to meet them, see them, watch them navigate the contest as a gender they no longer identified with to continue making changes from within the system that needed to be made (before knowing about Mx as an option). Matt scored over 82% of the potential points (of the 75% required) during their competition for International Mr Olympus Leather, winning the Runner-up position, and managing to be voted by fellow competitors the 2017 International Mr, Ms, and Mx Olympus Leather Contest Congeniality Award Winner.
While I will allow regional contests in two circumstances to appoint titles, International Olympus Leather has never appointed a title before and most realistically will never do so again Matt O'Toole was TECHNICALLY appointed. As previously stated, Mx Olympus Leather has been in the works for over 18 months and was to begin this season. The new title was announced at Olympus Leather Weekend 2017, and Matt was invited to come back and compete for the Mx title before the 2017 contest even started whether or not they won a title in the 2017 contest.
Matt O'Toole in my eyes WON their title. In PuP~ and Brad's (my partners and co-producers) eyes, Matt O'Toole WON their title and in the eyes of their International Mr and Ms... Matt O'Toole WON the International Mx Olympus Leather title. When I asked Pixie and Anthony what they thought about granting the Mx Olympus Leather Title to Matt, without hesitation or any suggestion they offered to split the titleholder's travel fund to make the sash, get the medallion and get Matt to Dallas for Great Plains Olympus Leather so we could make the announcement in a timely fashion among Olympus Leather Family.
There was NEVER a question in any of our hearts or minds that this most EXTREME of circumstances warranted immediate action to the most deserving individual who had EARNED THE MX TITLE. Perhaps they earned it in an unorthodox way, but by showing everyone that they were willing to talk the talk and walk the walk no matter what it took to open the door to the conversations they so deserve to have they are International Mx Olympus Leather.