“It makes me feel like a superhero” – meet Will Leah of Manchester Rubbermen

Alice Wragg | 7th March 2018

Ever felt like you don’t fit in, like you can’t express yourself or you are unhappy hiding your true passions? Meet the Manchester Rubbermen who took a niche hobby and turned it into a nationwide success.

The group for gay and bisexual men to express their passion for latex and rubber clothing began in 2009 and was branded the Manchester Rubber Men community. Yet nine years later the community has become a nation-wide attraction, reaching out to over 5,000 men across the UK.

But, what’s the attraction to it?

Will Leah, 26, has been a member of the Manchester Rubbermen since 2012, after hearing about the group whilst shopping in a store dedicated to latex clothing. He works as a supermarket sales assistant yet devotes a large proportion of his spare time to latex.

He said: “The thing I enjoy most about the group is the amount of new friends I’ve met and all the different stories I’ve heard from different people. The group has helped massively with my confidence with getting out and getting involved.”

The men involved in the group meet up on a monthly basis on Canal Street in Manchester, with most nights involving laughing, chatting and drinking.

As well as being a social community for men interested in latex clothing, the group take part in a wide variety of fundraising events for charity.

Will said: “Each year we have a big annual event where we all get together for a long weekend and raise money for a chosen charity. We do raffles, market stands and challenges. It’s a great way to have fun, have a few drinks and raise money for charity.”

Their next event is MRM9 to celebrate nine years of rubber pride, Thursday 19 – Monday 23 April 2018. Around 800 rubbermen will descend on Manchester’s gay village to have raffles , bingo and sales of latex. It is already fully booked.

Will said his main attraction to latex and rubber is: “It looks good, it makes me feel like a superhero and I class it as one of my biggest hobbies. I think my wardrobe now amounts up to around £3,000.”

The outfits worn by the Rubbermen vary from person to person, they can be casual outfits such as latex hoodies and pants, or a bit more outgoing like full suits and singlets. Will said his favourite outfit is an all-in-one suit that, he feels, makes him look like a superhero.

Latex outfits are very expensive ranging from £100 for a singlet to £350 for a suit.

Will said: “I mainly get my clothes online and in stores but I also model for companies so often they gift me a lot of the outfits I wear throughout the day which is brilliant.” 

Will explained that latex is very comfortable, but can get a bit sweaty once the dancing starts on a night out.

Most of his modelling work has come from posting photos of his outfits onto the Manchester Rubbermen Facebook page where clothing companies who take an interest in his unique style get in touch and ask if he’d like to do some modelling.

He said: “I think the first ever modelling I did was on a catwalk, I was very scared to be up in front of so many people! The opportunities mainly come through being a part of the group which is amazing. If you go onto the latex101 website you can see me modelling on there.”

Having such a unique hobby can often be misunderstood. When asked if he had ever faced any negativity from being in the Manchester Rubbermen, Will said: “I was walking around the Arndale once and a group of boys saw me in my latex and burst out laughing and told me what I was doing wasn’t natural, but it doesn’t bother me, I just smile and laugh it off.”

He said: “I think it’s a must to express yourself in life because if you’re not being who you want to be, then what’s the point? I think it helps other people as well as yourself because it makes what you do more visible. People ask me questions about my outfits which helps promote the lifestyle that I have. 

“I definitely feel like I can express myself more when I’m with the Rubbermen because I’m a very relaxed person who loves meeting new people, so meeting people who share the same lifestyle interest as me, considering what I do is very unique, is really uplifting,” he added.

Will of Manchester Rubbermen

He said his parents found out about his role in Manchester Rubbermen via his social media!

“I didn’t actually ever tell them, not for any reason, it just never came up in conversation, so they just found out! It was my first time out in public at the Manchester Pride parade because the Manchester Rubbermen had their own section there.

“So from doing this, they saw pictures on my Facebook. They just said they didn’t realise that was what I was doing there and just made sure what I was doing was not degrading myself and politely asked if I didn’t flaunt it around the house, which is fine with me! They were pretty cool about it to be fair.”

Latex wear can be both casual and dressy, depending on the specific pathway you choose to take within the community.

Will said: “I wear a bit of both but I really enjoy wearing it casually, whenever I walk around the Arndale I always attract a lot of attention and people saying I look cool.

“Often people come up to me and ask where I get my clothes from and often they ask for selfies! It’s like I’m a celebrity so I just say yeah sure!”

For more details on Manchester Rubbermen visit their website www.manchesterrubber.co.uk