The third year of IMsL happened on March 25, 1989. Jo-Carol who had MC’d the first year returned with Michael Perreya, IML 1988, who were Mistress and Master of Ceremonies.  Judges were Shann Carr, Madeleine Davis, Ilene Dodd, Dragon, Shannon Kennedy, Cynthia Slater, Pat Yancy-Jones and Sybil Holiday as the alternate judge. Eleven (11) women competed for the title.  The 1989 Contestants were:

  • Susie Shepherd, Portland, OR
  • Linda L Vickery, Charlotte, NC
  • Cherie Matisse, Seattle, WA
  • Nina Darst, San Francisco, CA
  • Heron Doe, San Francisco, CA
  • Jo Leroux, Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • Bettie Harlow, San Francisco, CA
  • Corky D, San Diego, CA
  • Jo Tierny, Sacramento, CA
  • Cooper Aaxton, Tacoma, WA
  • Neva F Buck, Carmichael, CA

The IMsL Board was growing and at this point it consisted of 10 members – Sky Renfro, Shadow,  Joy Schulenberg, Audrey Joseph, Pat Califia, Coulter Thomas, Dorothy Allison, Frank A Jur, J.C. Collins, Edward Goehring,.

This was the same year that Guy Baldwin won IML and a few years later, Susie help Guy edited his popular Leather Guide to Contests (1993).  In 1989, Tony DeBlase presented a Leather Pride flag on stage at IML that became accepted as the identifying symbol for the international Leather community.  From Tony’s editorial about the flag: “Susie Shepherd, who was International Ms Leather when I made my presentation in Chicago, phoned me shortly after I got back home and asked permission to make a flag for the Portland OR gay pride parade. Naturally I gave her permission and sent her a copy of the above editorial, along with the blueprint-like drawing of the flag that was included with it, and she had a flag made and it was carried in the Portland OR Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade a week before those similar celebrations in New York City and San Francisco.” And then there was that Loma Prietta earthquake! Many organizations stepped up to fundraise for the SF Leather community. Another connection was that community activist and lover of IMsL 1987 Judy Tallwing McCarthey Sashie Hyatt of Portland died the day that Susie won IMsL.

We need class pictures or any other items from the 1989 contest.  We do have a few articles about Susie but we are looking for pictures or videos from those days.  If you have any of these, please send them to imslhistory@gmail.com.  Do you know where these women are or have a way to contact them?  We are inviting them all to join us for the IMsL 30th year, April 14-17, 2016 for our Class Reunion!  To read all about Susie and see the 1989 IMsL program, check out the 1989 IMsL History page

Article from On Our Backs – July-August 1989

Susie Shepherd's ParentsThe late Ann and Bill Shepherd started educating themselves, and looking for ways to be helpful, after their daughter, Susie, came out to them in 1971. Local newspapers wouldn’t even allow them to advertise “Parents of Gays” until 1975, and after that, Ann Shepherd’s phone never stopped ringing with pleas for help.

Susie Shepherd provided this account:

When I came home from the University of Oregon for Christmas break 1971 and  told mom and dad that I needed to talk with them about something “really important,” I had no idea that would end up being a defining moment for the entire family.  That’s when I came out to my parents.

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IMsL – Susie Shepherd

1989suzieshepherd1989 – Sponsor: Leatherwoman Productions, Portland OR.
Ms Portland Leatherwoman 1989, Susie was selected as Portland’s Gay Woman of the Year in 1978 and again in 1987 for her contributions to the gay community. She is a member of Portland Power and Trust, the Secretary of the Portland chapter of the National Leather Association and active in programs for recovering alcoholics, addicts and compulsive overeaters. Her interests include football, sculpting watermelons, playing the occasional accordion and indulging her serious cat fetish.


 

2015 – Susie Shepherd was one of the first Oregon lesbians to fully embrace mainstream legislative politics as a means to achieve equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. She has continued this work and expanded upon it throughout the years of her life. Susie’s dedication to the LGBT community earns her a heroes award from the Q Center.

In 1975 she joined the board of Portland Town Council (PTC) the first LGBT umbrella group in Oregon dedicated to civil rights for lesbins and gay men. Also in 1975-76 she spearheaded the writing of a PTC booklet entitled “A Legislative Guide to Gay Rights” which was aimed at educating policy makers on the gay issue. The booklet was 76 pages and won rave reviews in the national gay press. It was sold in LGBT bookstores across the US and from England to Australia.

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1989 Program Book

(Mobile version available here)