Being named Mr. Chicago Leather this past January 24 at The Leather Archives & Museum was extra special for Luis Tipantasigthat also was his birthday.
"I went into the competition ready to open up and be myself, [which] sometimes can be scary," Tipantasig said. "It means a lot to be selected to serve a community that embraced me with open arms and hearts."
His leather approach is simple: "Be true to yourself and feel comfortable in your own skin," he said.
Tipantasig will be front and center when the leather world makes its annual pilgrimage to Chicago for IML over the extended Memorial Day weekend.
"I am looking forward to going through this experience with amazing men from all over the world. I have heard this experience can be life-changing," he said. "I just keep telling myself, 'Do not trip and fall of the stage.'"
Tipantasig's goals for IML are simply to "have fun and enjoy the weekend."
Tipantasig's leather-less work involves trouble-shooting databases and helping to maintain a stable litigation software platform that is used for e-discovery.
He said the best part of the being Mr. Chicago Leather is the interaction with others, many of whom have reached out to him simply to talk about the community.
"The worst part [of being Mr. Chicago Leather] would be not having enough time to attend all the community events that I would like to support," he said.
Tipantasig is, for instance, a volunteer for Mr. Friendly, an organization that fights to end the stigma associated with HIV.
Ã¯ï¿½ï¿½ Age: 37
Ã¯ï¿½ï¿½ Neighborhood: Andersonville
Ã¯ï¿½ï¿½ Roots: Originally from Bronx, New York; has lived in Chicago for five years
Ã¯ï¿½ï¿½ Relationship status: Single
Ã¯ï¿½ï¿½ Job title: Senior software snalyst for a software hosting provider
Ã¯ï¿½ï¿½ Hobbies: Bowling, concerts, movies, traveling and cooking
Ã¯ï¿½ï¿½ Favorite TV shows: "American Horror Story, Orange is the New Black and anything that will make me laugh."
Ã¯ï¿½ï¿½ Favorite pizza topping: Sausage
Ã¯ï¿½ï¿½ Favorite drink: Vodka and sugar-free Red Bull
Ã¯ï¿½ï¿½ Orientation: Gay
Ã¯ï¿½ï¿½ Little-known fact: "I am a big country music fan. I used to live in the South and that's the only thing that would be playing on the radio … plus I have a thing for cowboys."