California Leatherboy 2011 Mike Rush

Although my title journey has been short, I cannot believe how it has already changed my life. When I was appointed to this honor only 6 weeks ago, I approached a microphone for the first time in my life.

As a person who has struggled with a life-long stutter, I did not know if I could speak a single word.

But somehow, through the terror of that moment, I found my voice, and it feels great. I hope by sharing my story with my stuttering brothers and sisters, both gay and straight, I can help just one of them take that first step so they too can experience the freedom from a lifetime of silence.

My message to each of you is, regardless of your worst fears and deepest insecurities, to try to find the courage to reach beyond those barriers to become the better person you know you are. I want you to be strong, to be brave, and above all, to believe that you too can do anything you dream of.”

Mike Rush, California Leatherboy 2011