Jim Rinefierd, like many D.C. gays, is gearing up for Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend an annual event that draws enthusiasts from all over the country to the District each January.
The event has special significance for him — when he arrived here in January 2007 he found his apartment was next door to the host hotel — the Washington Plaza in Thomas Circle (MAL is at the Hyatt on Capitol Hill now). Chicago’s International Mr. Leather event was where he came out in May 2006.
The 57-year-old Liverpool, N.Y., native — Mr. Capital Pride Leather 2008, by the way — lived in Rochester, N.Y., for 34 years before starting a new life in Washington. He’s vice president of finance and operations for Human Rights Campaign after many years in financial management work in various spheres — university research, a Fortune 500 company, local government and non-profit. He was first runner up for Mr. MAL in 2009 and is active in Brother Help Thyself, Scarlet’s Bake Sale and D.C. Leather Pride.
Rinefierd enjoys cooking, entertaining, woodworking, home projects, golf and skiing in his free time. He lives in Brookland.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I came out in 2006 at age 52. The hardest people to tell were my ex-wife and our two sons (then 18 and 21) for I knew I was setting something in motion that was going to change our lives forever and I feared I would lose everyone and everything in my life. Fast forward five-and-a-half years and I’m a fortunate man — I’ve lost no one. My life is full of family and friends including my ex-wife and sons. I’m indebted to my ex-wife because people took their cue from her. She is a remarkable and loving woman who has taught me much about the power of compassion and love and I’m fortunate that she is a part of my life.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
My heroes are the trail-blazing men and women who were the pioneers of the LGBT movement like Frank Kameny, Barbara Gittings, Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
No question — the D.C. Eagle.
Describe your dream wedding.
Marrying my soul-mate, surrounded by family and friends.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
The importance of education and life-long learning.
What historical outcome would you change?
The existence of HIV/AIDS.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Probably the Beatles’ invasion in the ‘60s. Yes, I’m that old.
On what do you insist?
Individuals must accept personal responsibility for their lives.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
I’m not on Facebook or Twitter.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
Either “Rocket Man – How I Went From Suburban Soccer Dad to Leather Titleholder in 24 Months” or “Every Day is a Gift”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Absolutely nothing. I’m happy being who I am.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I’m a Catholic. I believe in God and God’s presence in the world and my life — especially as I came to accept who I am. I believe that I am the person God made me and helps me to be.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Never forget the history of the movement as a struggle for sexual freedom as well as civil rights and social justice. Keep the focus on the real enemies and threats to the movement. Be mindful of the millions of individuals who are affected by the work and progress of the movement on a personal and daily basis.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
Gay men aren’t masculine.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
Pretty much anything from TitanMen — LOL. “Brokeback Mountain” came out about the time I was coming to terms with myself and therefore was and is an important movie for me.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
The addiction to Facebook and Twitter.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
The collection of handmade Father’s Day cards and letters I have from my sons.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
The importance of starting to save for retirement early!
I moved here to take a great job with a great organization and to start a new life. This city is at the same time vibrant, diverse and dysfunctional. Washington is full of history, energy, opportunity and great people. I love living here.