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Mr. Mid Atlantic Leather 2022 Duke

By August 07, 2022




Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather 2022 Duke interview

By Rodney Burger. Photos by Todd Davidson including main photo, Todd Wolfstryker, Rodney Burger, Dave Rhodes, John O'Brien, Facebook.

On January 15th, I sat across the judge’s table and interviewed Mr. Mayhem Leather 2021 Duke as he competed for the title of Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather 2022. Although clearly nervous, he opened up and answered the wide variety of questions tossed at him by the distinguished panel of judges. On February 5th I interviewed Duke again after he captured the MAL 2022 title on January 16th. Dressed all in black with his signature black cowboy hat, he was beaming, confident, and relaxed. With his sites on the International Mr. Leather 2022 Contest in May, this cowboy was clearly ready for the ride.

Born in Topeka, Kansas and raised in rural Overland Park, Kansas, Duke always knew he was different. When Ellen DeGeneres officially came out in 1997, he discovered there was a word for it. He was gay. When he told his mother there was no element of struggle, she said that she already knew. Thankfully, his family made it easy. (Sean Penn is not going to win an Oscar for that coming out story.) Duke explained, “My history of Leather and fetish goes back to my childhood on the Great Plains and prairies of Kansas. I got my first piece of gear after I saw a man wearing a cock ring in a magazine. I went into the barn and broke off a rusted-out horse bit and excitedly put it on. I kept that ring to this day."

In the summer of 2011, he moved to Washington, DC and pursued a PhD in Political Science at Georgetown University. When friends took him to the Centaur MC’s Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend, he discovered a whole world of kinks and fetishes. “MAL gave me sexual liberation and empowerment, the deep and abiding connections with others, and taught me to give back to the community.” Duke feels proud that ten years after MAL opened his eyes to the leather community, he is now Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather.

As his interest and involvement in the community grew, friends suggested that he run for a Leather title. He looked around and selected the Mr. Mayhem Leather Contest, held each year in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania as part of Bears, Bikers & Mayhem. Once selected, Duke used his title as a way to help others raise money and awareness of events in the area such as the Atlantic States Gay Rodeo and Keystone State Gay Rodeo, and helped at bar nights for the Bears of Maryland and ShipMates Club of Baltimore. He sold raffle tickets and Jell-O shots. He didn’t say no to anyone who asked for help.

Wanting to honor the event where it all started, he took his Mr. Mayhem Leather title to the stage of MAL. “MAL gave me my Leather identity," he added.

I asked Duke what advice he would give to someone who wanted to run for a Leather title. Duke said, “Make sure you are doing it for the right reason and remember that it is a big commitment. Make sure you have the time to properly represent a bar, club, or a part of the community."

Having MAL this year while the COVID-19 pandemic is still going on proved to be controversial. Unfortunately, it brought out some ugliness in the community. I had to ask Duke what he thought. He explained, “People who decided not to go made the best choice for them and those who attended made their best choice. I was very proud of how the Centaur MC took nothing for granted and went out of their way to make sure all safety measures were followed.”
Duke's Leather journey is far from over. He recently met a couple and is exploring a throuple relationship. He found his true calling when he took a position in a program that tutors at risk youth and he currently mentors LGBTQIA young people as they discover and navigate their identities. On top of that, his year as Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather 2022 has only just begun. Personally, I have no doubt that this cowboy is up for the ride!


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Editor's note - Duke went to International Mr. Leather in Chicago, IL in May and brought home the First Runner-up Medallion home.