Issue:  Vol. 46 / No. 25 / 23 June 2016
 
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The Pulse of Leather

Leather


Community members proudly hold the Leather Pride Contingent banner that led the contingent in the 2015 Pride Parade. photo: Rich Stadtmiller
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How could the horrific mass murder in Orlando unfold and me not comment here? It is clearly a watershed moment in our history and I would be terribly remiss not addressing it. But you might ask, what does that incident have to with leather and kink, the focus of this column? In short, everything.

As is clearly evidenced by a recent New York Times article in which the hate crime statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation were analyzed, LGBT folks are the top targets currently of such crimes. So LGBT kinksters are already part of a much maligned and persecuted demographic.

Now add on top of that our kink sexualities and identities and an argument can be made that LGBT kinksters, especially those who live openly and are out about their proclivities, face potentially even greater persecution.

With no disrespect to the many heterosexual people in our scene who generally embrace and support us, this is why we sometimes say our kink experience is not the same as yours. If there was any doubt as to why the experience of LGBT leatherfolk and kinksters is not the same as our heterosexual counterparts, Orlando should be clear evidence. We truly appreciate and value your support, but as LGBT kinksters we face a struggle that I hope you see is uniquely challenging.

Erik Will, Chairman of the San Francisco Leathermen's Discussion Group, and one of the most active Bay Area people in reacting to Orlando, posted a heartfelt response on their organization's blog at www.sfldg.org that is worth your time reading. This snippet is particularly poignant.

"For some of us, this is a new battle in a very old war. For some of us, it is the first and largest direct attack on us. Either way, this is a terrifying and sobering experience for all of us, and we may not even know how we are supposed to feel. Right now, you may not know what to do to help or to heal. As with BDSM, there is no one right way. You do what you have to, what feels right, and what harms no one else."

"In the short term, take care of yourself. Cry. Scream. Sleep. Eat. Make love. Laugh. Whatever heals your soul... Then take care of your family. As sexual outsiders, we have limitless magic, power, and resilience. Use that to offer a cover of protection for your family and friends."

illustration: Erik Will

I echo that message. Orlando is a stark reminder that the battle for acceptance and freedom is not over. For LGBT people, and for the kinky within those ranks. We are a resilient bunch and perhaps at no other time must our resilience be more heavily utilized.

Speaking for himself only, here's what Erik said when I asked him about how Orlando impacted him as a kinkster.

"I've been very introspective this week, thinking about how we as BDSMers are dealing with this trauma. We regularly process intense physical and emotional sensations. We check in with each other and try to be transparent about our state of being. We very deliberately do self and aftercare for these intense sessions. We are always seeking to learn from powerful, transformative experiences. We are strong in the face of powerful stuff. We didn't seek Orlando out, but it happened, and we are going to take the grief, terror, anger and other resulting emotions in stride and become better as individuals and better as a community as a result. There is a sea change happening right now because of Orlando, which gives me more than a glimmer of hope to come from this mess."

 

Erik Will, one of the driving organizing forces behind the local leather and kink community's reaction to Orlando. photo: Rich Stadtmiller

Taking Pride

As our San Francisco Pride weekend is upon us, there are many ways you can display and celebrate your individual and collective pride. But there are specific ways the leather and kinky among us can show that we will not be silenced. We will not be made invisible. We will not cower in shame because there is nothing shameful about what we do or who we are.

Within the Pride Celebration itself, visit and support Leather Alley (www.leatheralley.net). Mix and mingle with those who share your common struggle. Walk in the Pride Parade with the Leather Pride Contingent. You can find details about their parade lineup location at www.sfleather.org.

Show the world that we are proud of our sexual orientations and identities. Frequent and support the many bars, events, venues, clubs and businesses that are an integral part of our local Bay Area leather and kink scene. They provide much of the social glue that allows us to stand strong and openly be who we are.

I share the glimmer of hope to which Erik alludes. We, as LGBT people, will ensure that love wins. We, as LGBT leatherfolk and kinksters, will ensure that love wins. Amid all the trappings and constructs, our scene has at its core a single guiding reason why we do what we do – love.

As famous leatherman Joseph Bean once said in his 10 Rules of SM, "If you're not in love, don't do the scene."

Here I'd like to expand on that notion and call on all of us to not only love each other, but to foster love for the entire spectrum of the LGBT community and the greater community in which it resides.

Love will win. For LGBT people. For kinksters. For everyone. The alternative is simply unacceptable.

Race Bannon is a local author, blogger and activist. You can reach him through his website, www.bannon.com.

Leather Events, June 23 – August 9, 2015

 

There's always a lot going on in the San Francisco Bay Area for leather and other kinksters.

Thu 23

Locked @ SF Citadel

A men's dungeon party hosted by CastroKink. A regular men's kinky play party at the SF Citadel, equipped with crosses, bondage tables, cages, slings, spanking benches, suspension beams, puppy mats, and more. 181 Eddy St., $20, 7pm-1am. www.sfcitadel.org

Fri 24

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

Sat 25

GearUp Weekend's Black is the new Pink Play Party @ Alchemy SF

Men's play party hosted by the men of GearUp Weekend. 1060 Folsom St., $20, 8pm-1am. www.gearupweekend.com

BLUF Invasion @ SF Eagle

Throw on your gear and come out to the monthly BLUF night in San Francisco. 398 12th St., 9pm-2am. www.bluf.com

Sun 26

Walk with the Leather Contingent @ SF Pride Parade

March with the leather contingent in the SF Pride Parade. Meeting location and exact step off times are not known yet. Contingent will be early in the parade. Expect the 11am time to drop and expect us to be somewhere close to Spear or Main Street. More information at www.sfleather.org. After the walk in the parade visit Leather Alley at Hyde Street between McCallister and Golden Gate. See www.leatheralley.net for details.

Mon 27

Ride Mondays @ Eros

A motorcycle rider and leathermen night at Eros, bring your helmet, AMA card, MC club card or club colors and get $3 off entry or massage. 2051 Market St. www.erossf.com

Fri 1

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

Mon 4

Ride Mondays @ Eros

A motorcycle rider and leathermen night at Eros, bring your helmet, AMA card, MC club card or club colors and get $3 off entry or massage. 2051 Market St. www.erossf.com

Wed 6

Exiles Monthly Munch @ Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe

Whether you're an Exiles member or not, we welcome you to come hang out with us and enjoy the company of like-minded kinky women (along with those self-identifying as other than male) who are 18 and over. 1805 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 6:30-9:30pm. www.theexiles.org

Thu 7 – Sun 10

Gear Up Weekend @ Saratoga Springs

A men's BDSM and kink weekend. www.gearupweekend.com/register

Fri 8

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

Sat 9

Woof @ SF Eagle

Come romp, play and socialize at our monthly pups and Handler mosh event! We'll have mats out to pup out on and snacks to munch on! 5 mats outside if the weather is clear, 3 inside if it rains. 398 12th St., $3 entrance, $7 for puppy pass, 2-5pm. www.SFK9Unit.org






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