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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-12-13



Mr. Chicago Leather contest returns to Touche following 2022 controversy
by Carrie Maxwell

This article shared 11228 times since Thu Feb 1, 2024
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The Mr. Chicago Leather contest returned this past weekend, January 26-28, to Touché Chicago, over a year after numerous community members were incensed by a racist incident.

But the bartender who quit Touché following the incident said that the North Side bar still needs to do more to make amends with the community following a racist performance by Las Vegas-based puppeteer Jerry Halliday at the leather, fetish and bear-focused Touché Chicago's 45th anniversary celebration on Nov. 1, 2022.

"I understand the Mr. Chicago Leather contest is an exciting and a cherished tradition, however in my opinion rectifying harm caused with due diligence should be a much higher priority," said that bartender, Cris Beaux, in an email statement to Windy City Times. "The contest taking place without any actions is a stark reminder of why I quit that night and why I cannot even fathom wanting to return."

This weekend's contest also comes a year after an ONYX Midwest-hosted community forum at The Leather Archives and Museum took place this past Jan. 21, 2023, to address the incident. The discussion was convened after a Nov. 9, 2022, gathering scheduled by Touché management was canceled when the bar's manager David Boyer became ill. Over the past year, Touché has not appeared to have publicly addressed the incident at their bar, other than issuing a written apology.

Bleaux said, "It is disappointing to say the least to watch Touché's leadership's response since their anniversary. [Boyer] had initially stated in an interview with ABC-7 Chicago in November 2022, 'It has weighed heavily on me, people that I care about, and I hurt them' with regards to the event in conjunction with an apology written on social media.

"This was supposed to follow up with a community forum with ONYX Midwest that was hastily cancelled and rescheduled and planned (with no visible support) from the bar a few months after. No promises were made on behalf of the bar beyond a public 'sorry' and shortly thereafter mentions of both the anniversary as well as the public apology were scrubbed from Touché's social media.

"Since then, ONYX Midwest confirmed their separation from the bar. This is not accountability; current or prior community service does not give anyone a 'free pass' of sorts to cause violence such as blatant racism."

In a statement on their website dated Dec. 10, 2023, ONYX-Midwest said, "Despite many discussions and invitations to address the expectations outlined in our statement, Touché management and owners have taken no action aside from an initial email and verbal apology. While we value the long history that we shared, we are deeply disappointed that the management and owners took no further initiative to address this relationship breach.

"…At this point, we, the Men of Onyx-Midwest, have decided to end our formal relationship with the bar. Touché is no longer our home base, and we will not pursue any further collaborations with staff.

"We continue to envision a time when our Leather and Kink family take issues of racism and sexism seriously and do the work required to increase personal awareness and make this community welcoming, inclusive, and emotionally comfortable for everyone."

When Windy City Times reached out to Boyer to address these ongoing issues, he did not respond. This publication asked Boyer to outline all the steps Touché has taken over the past 14 months to address what happened during their 45th anniversary celebration and the fallout that occurred afterward, if the bar leadership ever tried to set up a meeting with all the stakeholders after last year's ONYX Midwest- hosted community forum, and to share what their current business ethos is towards the community they serve.

See and—anniversary-celebration-marred-by-racist-performance/74305.html .

This article shared 11228 times since Thu Feb 1, 2024
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