23 February will forever be a special date for #BEsneax. On this occasion, the floor to David, founder of the association.
The night of February 22 to 23, 2018, I’m laying in my bed in a studio that I rented for a weekend in Antwerp. A new edition of the Leather & Fetish Pride has just been launched. I saw a lot of guys dressed in leather, lots of others in rubber and so few in sportswear. However, in recent years, it is this fetishism that has become predominant in my life.
It all started on 2 June 2017 in Lille, a Friday evening, the eve of gay pride. On this day, Le Privilege welcomes the election of Mr Sportswear Haut-de-France. Guillaume, the owner of this popular bar in Lille Old-town, managed to trick me into participating in the competition. Guillaume, he’s a kiffeur, a true one, but also someone whom I appreciate very much for the energy which he deploys in order to animate the gayscene. You understand, I accepted and I finally finish as first runner-up.
At the end of the following summer, during a period of professional transition, I moved and put down my bags in Brussels. I have not finished unpacking my boxes when I’m contacted. Each region must send a representative to Paris for the national final. The regional winner with whom I had a short relationship no longer gave any sign of life to anyone. So it was up to me to go and defend the region and try to win the sash of Mr Sportswear France 2018.
So here I’m in Paris on 11 November this year in front of four other delegates from their regions. The competition was tough. Damien wins the title. It was completely legitimate. He’s not yet 20 but has been in the community for a while and knows it very well. It was also the beginning of a beautiful friendship and a great bond between him and me. Besides, three weeks later, I took him on for the St-Nicolas weekend and he discovered Cologne.
In six months, I started to invest a little more for my community. Sometimes disparaged, often misunderstood, it requires a spotlight but also to be defended. The big annual international meeting was the real trigger. It was therefore on the night of 22 to 23 February 2018 in Antwerp, just two years ago, that I created a page and a group on Facebook in order to unite and bring together people who share the same interest as me in Belgium. #BEsneax was born.
At the start, I share some info on parties, articles gleaned here and there. It starts off smoothly. An Instagram account and another on Twitter are added. At the same time, I cogitate a lot and register the domain name for the Internet. In November of the same year, I open the first version of the website where you read this. It has evolved since its origins and new developments are still under consideration. One goal is to let as many people as possible speak.
The next step was to move from the virtual to the real life. On 10 May 2019, thanks to Le Belgica team, with Julien, Thibaut and the others, we are organizing a first social meeting in Brussels, just one week before the Belgian Pride. This time the sauce really takes over and I get a lot of support from other fetish communities, mainly the Bears, Pups and Rubbermen. We now have four editions of this kind on the counter. At the next rally in September, production of the community flag created by Fabien, Mr Sportswear France 2017, and with the graphic help of Nelson Stromwolf, is launched. We exported it to Sweden!
I was not going to stop there. Having participated in an election myself, I knew the pleasure of taking part in it with all the personal benefit that it brings, even if you are not the winner. I also knew the importance for a community to have an ambassador, an advocate for their peers and who represents them with dignity. This was the biggest challenge I had to face. Alone, I took my pilgrim stick: I contacted establishments, brands, other associations and I received great support. I was looking for collaborations and exchanges. I even received this unexpected donation from the USA thanks to the San Francisco Bay Area Rubbermen.
From 4 to 9 February 2020, Brussels becomes not only the capital of Belgium and Europe but also that of sneakers. From Ireland to Poland and Italy but especially from France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany, they came to participate in various activities during the Belgian Sneakers Days. In apotheosis, a special edition of Revelation in which Sven put all his energy. They were more than a hundred who came to attend the first election of Mr Sneakers Belgium at Stammbar. The competition was wonderful with candidates having strong characters and very close results. Michael wins the title and will represent us for a year. Finally, I will no longer be alone : #BEsneax, my project, has become ours.
Today, we can therefore say that the association is celebrating its second anniversary. Two years since the seed germinated even though it had been planted much earlier. The beautiful plant grows well. Each new member represents a drop of water or a portion of fertilizer that helps it grow. We are slowly approaching the thirty members in order of contribution and I hope that this is only the beginning. The sale of t-shirts created in collaboration with French artists Romuald&PJ and Addikt store should help us to be able to develop future activities.