By Julie Cruikshank, Brandon Matheson
Jon Letke, the reigning Mr Leather Ottawa (MLO), died suddenly the evening of Thursday, July 24 in an apparent suicide.
Letke, 25, known in the leather community as Nizzi Greatpup, was a well-loved member of Ottawa’s queer community. He had moved to the city from Toronto in June 2013.
“We are all shocked by his sudden death. It is the ones closest to Jon that are on my mind in this rough time; I wish there was something I could do to ease their hearts,” Mike Tattersall, MLO 2010, tells Xtra.
Letke leaves behind many friends in the leather community, as well as his partner, Steve Loki.
“Tonight, Zelda Marshall and I will hold a moment of silence in his honour at Centretown Pub,” says Tattersall.
As news of his death became known late Thursday night, messages of grief, tribute and condolence from friends across North America and in the international leather community had begun to fill Letke’s Facebook profile.
“With a smile from knowing you and quite a few tears I’m headed to bed; glad that you’ll rest well brother. (Pats and scritches) We will make sure Loki’s taken care of,” wrote Woody Woodruff, International Mr Leather 2012.
A poignant photo of the leather pride flag flying at half mast was posted by Youkali Youkali, Ms Leather Toronto 2013.
“Jon, my Canadian brother, a kindred spirit. I am in shock and sad beyond belief. Thank you for the gifts that you gave me and so many,” wrote Patty, International Ms Leather 2014.
Many expressed shock and surprise, and some shared resources for suicide awareness and prevention.
“There are also people with a lot of anger, as well, as is common in these situations,” notes Tattersall. “We all deal with the stages of grief, and yes, all emotional responses are valid.”
“Many people have banded together, in person and in constant contact on-line, to gather strength from each other, both here and in the IML Class of 36,” says Tattersall. “Jon’s IML Brothers took it hard.”
“I am so saddened by this. I still cannot believe it. We shared so much before and during the IML process. I feel that a brother has been taken... and will not sleep tonight,” Peter Reid posted last night upon learning the news. ...