Tony DeBlase

Tony DeBlase was one of the most active lecturers, demonstrators, instructors and one might even say philosophers of leather-sex in the latter third of the 20th Century. His accomplishments as a leather leader are legendary. In addition, Dr. DeBlase was a mammologist in his professional life as well as a renowned gourmet cook. He was an early member of the Chicago Hellfire Club, a major factor in the development of Inferno, a founding publisher of Dungeon-Master Magazine. He also created the Leather History Timeline beginning in antiquity and continuing to his death in 2000.

The most widely celebrated of Tony DeBlase's achievements in the world of leather is and probably always will be the Leather Pride Flag which he presented to the world as a "proposed design idea" on May 28, 1989, at International Mr. Leather. As the creator of the flag, he was often asked to explain the colors and design, but consistently refused to do so, insisting that each person could do that for himself. The design was immediately embraced and began appearing in parades within a month of its introduction, and turned up in shops as a bumper sticker barely two months later. Deconstructions and re-compositions of the flag's familiar black, blue and white stripes with a red heart originally are common, but the design itself was accepted worldwide as introduced with small variations.

Initial reaction to the flag was mixed. According to DeBlase's article A Leather Pride Flag, "Some, particularly on the east coast, reacted positively to the concept, but were quite concerned, some even offended, that I had not involved the community in helping to create the design. Creator DeBlase consistently refused to explain the colors and design, insisting that each person could do that for themselves.In DeBlase's own words:"The flag is composed of nine horizontal stripes of equal width. From the top and from the bottom, the stripes alternate black and royal blue with the central stripe being white. In the upper left quadrant of the flag is a large red heart. I will leave it to the viewer to interpret the colors and symbols. The original flag is on display at the Leather Archives and Museum.