Serving the LGBT communities since 1971
32 • BAY AREA REPORTER • January 5-11, 2017
The year ahead by Race Bannon
e have embarked upon a new year and may it be a happy one for everyone reading this column. Many New Year’s writings reflect on the past year, but I’ve decided to focus on the future. So, I asked myself what I’d like to see happen in our leather and kink scene in 2017. What follows are some of my wishes for this year and beyond. But because I know this column is also sometimes a mouthpiece for all kinksters, local and national, I asked dozens of people from various leather and kink networks for their New Year’s wishes. What follows are indeed my thoughts, but many of them were honed by the answers I received from others. It takes a village. With that said, nothing I heard surprised me or ran egregiously counter to my own wishes for the year. I feel I can fully own these as my own. Among the most consistent wishes I heard was the desire for more
sex and play. Less drama. Fewer contests, fundraisers and classes. Less of almost everything. Except they wanted more play. More fleshto-flesh, connected sex and play. Without a doubt this was the most common refrain. Based on my observations throughout 2016, it’s been the feeling of many for a while. This got me to thinking. Why the rather ubiquitous call for less of so much and yet more of sex, play and the deeper connections it creates? Perhaps despite some of the otherwise good community work being done through education, fundraising and other efforts, some of the core sexual and identity reasons for which people are into kink in the first place got lost. I don’t think any of this was intentional or done with malice, but sometimes there are unintended consequences to even noble pursuits. Anyway, I would like to see us focus a bit more on the sexual and play aspects of what we do. This has been my wish for a while. This
Contestants at the 2016 Mr. San Francisco Leather contest, one of the big annual events that brings Bay Area kinksters together.
doesn’t mean we need to necessarily neglect anything else. We simply need to embrace the overtly sensual and hot realities of our scene and foster it. After all, if you think about it, without the sex and play, would the leather and kink scene exist at all? Is that not the very foundation upon which it rests? To ignore it seems wrong, but we do. Too often. Also, one of the cornerstones of community building is the concept of self-care. Without taking care of ourselves, we’re not of much use to anyone else. We burn out. We become disinterested. If the main reasons we’re part of something wanes, so does our involvement and enthusiasm. That will have a domino effect and hurt everything else we do. Let’s try to have more kinky sex and play parties. Let’s figure out ways to encourage more private play too. Let’s support the venues in which to host and do it, both private and public. We need these now more than ever. Speaking of venues, we need to maintain those we have and encourage more of them. A big wish of mine is that everyone supports the places we do have. The bars that welcome us, the sex and play spaces, and the community meeting spaces. Frequent those we have. If someone is trying to get a new venue off the ground, let’s support them. Without spaces in which to meet and commune we’ll be relegated entirely to online and at-home options, which are great but we need the public spaces to keep our scene truly vibrant. My next wish is best summed up in the word “balance.” What I mean by that is a balance in terms of events, causes and organizations. Some wish that events, organizations and venues be more inclusive of a wide range of orientations and kinks. Others wish for more of these things to be set aside for specific orientations and kinks. Some wish for fewer contests and fundraisers. Others want more. This week, it was announced that the Mr. Edge contest would be delayed, and the Mr. Powerhouse contest was cancelled due to a lack of contestants. Some wish for fewer BDSM and kink classes and educational events. Others want more. This pattern plays out across the entire spectrum of what it is we do as kinksters. Conferences, contests, fundraisers, play parties, and so on. Some want more of them. Some want less. My own wish tends to split the difference among all these opinions and falls squarely in the middle in what I’m calling a more balanced perspective approach. This call for balance doesn’t denigrate any of those opinions nor violate my own wishes. Instead it honors all of them and creates an amalgam single wish of balance allowing each to exist while respecting the desire for some to have the opposite as well. Balance. Something for everyone, but respecting when others might want something different. The balance wish brings me to something I’ve come to believe about our scene. This will seem like heresy to some, and I don’t mean it in any sort of divisive or negative way. We’re no longer one monolithic leather/ kink scene. We’re many scenes that are loosely affiliated, sometimes quite loosely, by our rebel and maverick sexualities and erotic identities. Leather, and certainly kink, are big umbrellas under which a wide range
The appropriately shaped trophies for the annual 2016 Golden Dildeaux Awards, a silly and fun fundraiser organized by the Golden Gate Guards.
of sexuality gets categorized. Have you ever seen a Venn diagram, those labeled circles that intersect to varying degrees, their position and overlap indicating the relations among the labeled categories? Once upon a time the leather scene had a few labeled circles (leather, BDSM, role-base dynamics, and so on) and they mostly overlapped one on top of the other. Now, our scene has segmented into a bunch of more granular scenes such as rubber, pup play, watersports, fisting, master/slave, sports gear, and a lot more. The circles representing those scenes overlap to varying degrees, sometimes by not much at all. This makes the balanced approach even more difficult. How do you cater to all the various orientations and kinks? The answer is sometimes you do, and sometimes
you don’t. It’s an imperfect thing that must be handled on a case-bycase basis. My wish is that we foster empathy and sensitivity for the various segments of the scene that may not look or function quite like ours. The next wish necessarily falls into the political realm. It’s the wish by me and many of us to resist racism, sexism, transphobia, ableism, and other such social ills within our own ranks. These challenges are part of the greater overall national picture, but their impact trickles into our scene too. Of course, the tricky part is how to do that. Sometimes a certain amount of separation becomes necessary such as when gay men might want to have their own sex party or women might want to have their own educational event. Most people get those necessary separations. However, apart from accommodating the need to sometimes have separate spaces for like-minded people or people in a certain group, much of the time such separations are unnecessary and even morally reprehensible. Imagine a leather club keeping out Black members. There’s no amount of justification that will support such discrimination. These are some of my bigger wishes. I hope they manifest. I love our local and national leather and kink scene. Much of my life revolves around it. So, I have a selfish, vested interest in keeping it active and alive. I hope you do too. Happy New Year!t Race Bannon is a local author, blogger and activist. You can reach him at his website, www.bannon.com.
Marchers in the 2016 LeatherWalk, an annual leather/kink community pride, visibility and fundraising event.
Leather Events, January 6-20, 2017 >>
here’s always a lot going on in the San Francisco Bay Area for leather and other kinksters.
Romp, play and socialize at this monthly pups and Handler mosh event. Mats available to pup out on and there are snacks. SF AIDS Foundation mobile testing unit will be available 2pm-6pm to provide free testing. After the mosh, you can head over to SoMa StrEat Food Park for food. $3, 398 12th St., 2-5pm. www.SFK9Unit.org
FTM Munch @ Wicked Grounds Are you kinky (or interested), FAAB (female assigned at birth) and identify as a trans guy, FTM, trans boy/boi, and/ or similar? Join this monthly munch, every first Friday of the month. 289 8th St., 7-9pm. www.wickedgrounds.com
Sober Kink Together @ Castro Country Club Officially a CMA meeting, but open to all Anonymous 12-step Fellowship members, 4058 18th St., 9:30pm. www.castrocountryclub.org
Gear Party @ 442 Natoma Gear play party (leather, rubber, harnesses, etc.) for gay men. 442 Natoma St., $15 (requires $5 membership), 10pm. www.442parties.com
Woof! @ SF Eagle
Frolic @ SF Eagle Music by DJ NeonBunny, plus furry djs Ikkuma, LycanCatt, and Raid Zero. Visuals by Skibit and MaliePono. Best place to wear an animal costume. And whether you just like wearing a fursuit and walking around, or you actually want to be that pretend animal and run around on all fours all night (leashes for untamed animals preferred), it’s all good. 398 12th St., 8pm-2am. www.frolicparty.com
See page 34 >>