On February 8, Mr. Eagle NYC 2013 Arsenio Amadis and Mr. Connecticut Leather 2014 Omar L. Boots presented the first ever "Leather Cares Ribbons" fundraiser in New Haven, Connecticut, benefiting AIDS Project New Haven (APNH). The highly successful event was held at the Malaysian restaurant Bentara and included a family-style dinner, live entertainment, raffles, and handmade leather red ribbons for sale with all proceeds going to APNH. Performers that night included Empress MMXIII of the Imperial Sovereign Court of All Connecticut Morgana De Luxe, Lucia Virginity, Shaun Casey, and Amadis himself.
Omar L. Boots described how the event came to be: "At the beginning of my title year, I made a list of things to do during my title year—including charitable events and activities to reach different groups of our community: Leather, non-Leather, drag queens, and all the LGBTQ people, including people of color and Latinos—and also to interact with the straight community. I believe that titleholders can make a positive difference in our community. It was my idea to start an annual Formal Leather Dinner event in Connecticut to collect funds to help HIV/AIDS organizations. So I presented my idea to Arsenio about making all of this happen—starting a campaign to promote the Leather community and HIV/AIDS awareness; fighting the stigma; promoting love; and helping other organizations who need our help. He agreed, and invited me to become part of Leather Cares Ribbons. Arsenio and I will be working together on future projects to keep Leather Cares Ribbons going ... and to increase public awareness. There are no limits of how far we can reach ... There are always places and people who need our support!"
A total of $1021.00 was raised for APNH to help continue its mission: providing education and non-judgmental, comprehensive, and holistic services to individuals with and affected by HIV/AIDS. APNH Executive Director Chris Cole said, "APNH is extremely grateful to Omar Boots for hosting the Leather Cares event in New Haven to benefit the programs and services of AIDS Project New Haven. Events such as this, hosted by members of the community, are essential to APNH. They raise awareness and make it possible for us to provide services to individuals living with HIV in our community. AIDS Project New Haven continues to look for non-traditional venues for HIV testing so that we can identify individuals who are unaware of their status and get them into care. Once in care, we are committed to working with all of our clients to help them take the best care of themselves, stay engaged in their healthcare and overcome any and all barriers they may have to full engagement in living a full and healthy life."
Omar L. Boots concluded with, "I'm blessed that I got to know really good Leather brothers and sisters who have opened their arms and made me feel welcome since I started my journey as a Leatherman. For this same reason I want to welcome all to our Leather community and share our experience with others."
Learn more about AIDS Project New Haven at www.APNH.org.