The winner of Mr Leather Australia and New Zealand will take his pro-bareback porn message to the International Mr Leather competition in Chicago next month, something which has provoked concern from the New Zealand contestant in the competition.
Winner Mark Stephens spoke strongly about freedom of choice when it comes to gay porn which is filmed without condoms at the trans-Tasman final in Melbourne on the weekend. A Melbourne Leather Pride spokesman says the South Australian contestant's "controversial argument around freedom of choice and bareback porn ended up winning the judges over to let him represent his view at IML, even knowing that both IML and Melbourne Leather Pride have policies banning the promotion of unsafe sex material and the inclusion of Bareback Porn Studios.
"However freedom of speech and freedom of expression are paramount values to the leather Community and while the festival does not share the same view we totally support his right to argue the case in front of the international audience and take up his cause on that stage."
Mr Urge New Zealand Michael Stevens, a sociologist and former New Zealand AIDS Foundation chair who often speaks and writes on HIV issues, says he was more than a bit surprised to hear Stephens speaking in support of bareback porn and get applause for it.
Stevens says of the six men in the contest, he and three others were HIV positive and one was on PEP because his condom came off during a sexual encounter two nights before the contest. "The fact, that so many of us in this group have HIV says something about the level and style of sexual activity in the leather world," Stevens has written on his GayNZ.com blog.
"As I said in my speech, we do things other guys are scared to fantasise about. We're serious about sexual fun and push boundaries, and we've lost a huge number of men to AIDS over the decades, a disproportionate number I'd argue," Stevens says.
"I thought we were in support of protecting our community, not encouraging members to take risks that lead to HIV. Perhaps it's an Australia/NZ difference, but it didn't sit well with me, and I don't think it will play well in Chicago at the International Mr Leather contest either."
Mark Stephens and a friend will be flown to Chicago to compete in International Mr Leather at the end of May.