Issue:  Vol. 45 / No. 48 / 26 November 2015

Showing our Thanks


Some sexy fun with porn actor Brian Bonds at the September 2015 SF Eagle beer bust for Tenderloin Tessie, a wonderful nonprofit that provides bountiful meals during certain holidays, including Thanksgiving. photo: Rich Stadtmiller
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It's that time of year again when our country collectively celebrates being thankful. Since this column is focused on the kink and leather scene, I'd like to take this opportunity to personally thank the many people, clubs, organizations, events, bars, businesses, sex clubs, venues and projects that together contribute to the San Francisco Bay Area having what I consider the most vibrant and cohesive scene in the country.

While expressing thanks is certainly nice, showing our thanks in some tangible way is even better. An important way to show thanks is to give financial support to those beneficiaries you feel add the most value to our scene, both locally and nationally.

If you look at the history of various subcultures within the greater American landscape, as each subculture's community matures it figures out how to support itself best. If you look at groups bonded by sexual orientation, ethnicity, faith and other such groupings, as they have matured they have created financial support mechanisms to benefit that group. Maybe it's time the leather and kink scene did the same.

I'm sure many reading this will say to themselves, "But we do support our scene," and to some extent that's true. But it's not nearly enough to adequately support the progress we need to make if we're to sustain and mature.

What you're about to read is likely to piss some people off, but it has to be said.

I think in particular when it comes to our fundraising efforts, we give our money to outside beneficiaries more than we should.

It's noble to raise money for all sorts of causes and I'm not suggesting that necessarily stop entirely. However, when our own infrastructure is suffering so badly from lack of funds, it seems counterproductive to continue to primarily raise funds for others. If we are not ourselves stable financially, how can expect to be of much use to others ultimately anyway. It's time we focus on ourselves for a while.

As Guy Baldwin said in his 2011 keynote speech at the Leather Leadership Conference, "When is it our turn to be a worthy cause?" I say that time is now. Of course that's my opinion, but I stand by it.

One of the refrains I hear constantly from all kink sectors is how woefully underfunded they are. Many entities operate on shoestring budgets while trying to do their best to make the lives of kinky people better in some way. I contend we can do better. Let's start directing our money to the infrastructure that allows us to have remarkable opportunities to be our kinky selves.

For businesses, such as bars and kink retailers, giving them our business is the best way to show how much we value them. That's a fairly straightforward mechanism of support. Want your local bars and venues who host kink events or businesses that provide us kinksters with our gear to survive and thrive? Then give them your business.

Want a unique social venue like Wicked Grounds to stick around? Then give then your business. Don't complain if such gathering places and businesses disappear if you have not been giving them your business in the first place. Enough said about that.

Attendees at The 15 Association’s 35th anniversary celebration, held in February 2015. photo: Rich Stadtmiller

When it comes to the non-business elements of our kink infrastructure, they often suffer even more from lack of funds. Clubs and organizations often form the central social glue that the greater community revolves around. Whether it's a men's group like The 15 Association, a women's group like The Exiles, or an organization like TASHRA, they all need our financial support. Most of them run on little money and are hampered in what they can actually do for us because of lack of money.

Of course fundraising beneficiaries such as breast cancer, toy drives, HIV services, LGBT rights, and so many others are worthwhile causes. No one can deny that. At the same time, why is our own kink community not worthy of a good chunk of those fundraising dollars?

In the same keynote speech alluded to previously, Guy Baldwin puts forth a theory as to why our leather and kink community continues to raise so many funds that flow out of rather than into our own scene.

"But my favorite theory is that we've spent the last twenty years doing above-and-beyond-the-call fundraising because, at some deep level, we can't shake the need to show the world what good citizens we perverts really are. To demonstrate with our endless generosity that even though we're into twisted sex, we still share some important core values with the rest of the world. In short, I suspect we're trying to buy off some shame we have about who and what we are, and how we are different."

There are many times I believe Guy is correct. I simply can't otherwise fathom why we don't spend more time raising funds for our own vital needs. We are just as worthy of a growing and adequately sustained community as anyone else.

As but one example, which is admittedly a challenging fundraising objective, why are we not putting massive amounts of effort into raising funds to buy a building and create a leather/kink community center that would benefit us all? The spaces in which we can meet, socialize, learn and play are shrinking daily. Creating such a building would benefit everyone is a multitude of ways. I know there are some amazing people who have floated this idea and even put in some fantastic initial work on such a project, but I believe if it's going to happen we need a massive and coordinated fundraising effort to make it come to fruition. And in case people think such a project is folly, I know of two similar projects in other cities that have been progressing quite well in their efforts to create a kink center. It can be done.

Food being served at the SF Eagle as part of the September 2015 annual Alden Spafford Progressive Dinner, one of the many events produced by the San Francisco Bay Area Leather Alliance. photo: Rich Stadtmiller

So here are a few questions and thoughts I think we need to ponder as a community.

1. Are we raising a disproportionate amount of money for causes outside of our scene when many of our own institutions and needs are floundering financially?

2. Are we having too many fundraisers in the first place? Are we tying a fundraiser to so many events that it impacts the enjoyment of those in attendance?

3. Are you honestly weighing the value in what you are contributing when you hand over your money?

4. When we hold fundraisers, are we doing them in the least intrusive manner? Do we essentially force event attendees to participate in fundraisers rather than making it an option?

5. Are you supporting those who support you? Are you contributing to the organizations putting on parties and events that you attend, creating community and a space for you in it?

6. Are you supporting organizations and projects you believe are working to make us better, fairer, stronger and freer?

7. Are we as a community adequately overseeing those nonprofits to which we contribute? Are we requesting to see their books or accessing public records to ensure that our money is being spent on what we actually want to support?

Only you can answer these questions for yourself. If this column does nothing more than point out the need our scene has for more funding while also prompting individual contributors to carefully think about where they are donating, then I consider writing this a monumental success.

Here's an apt analogy to close out this column. One of the foundation precepts in the world of both self-defense and first aid is to not become a casualty yourself when aiding others. Let's not become a casualty. Let's take good care of ourselves. Only then can we really have a firm foundation by which to adequately help others.


Race Bannon is a local author, blogger and activist. You can reach him through the contact page on his website,

Leather Events, November 26 – December 12, 2015

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

Thu 26

Giving Thanks For Community @ Wicked Grounds

Safe community space for the entire kink and queer community. Whether you are far away from family or just want to spend time with your chosen community, they are open for you on Thanksgiving. 289 8th St., 11am-7pm.

Fri 27

Cigar Play Party @ Blow Buddies

Back patio for cigar smokers and the entire club available for play. 933 Harrison St., 9pm-12am.

Sober Kink Together @ Castro Country Club

Officially a CMA meeting, but open to all Anonymous 12-step Fellowship members, 4058 18th St., 9:30pm.

Gear Party @ 442 Natoma

Gear play party (leather, rubber, harnesses, etc.) for gay men. 442 Natoma St., $15 (requires $5 membership), 10pm.

Sat 28

The 15 Association Men's Play Party @ Alchemy

A men's BDSM play party. 1060 Folsom St., $15 for members, $20 for guests, 8pm-1am.

Mon 30

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.

Tue 1

World AIDS Day National Observance @ AIDS Memorial Grove

The Thom Weyand Unsung Hero Award will be bestowed upon the San Francisco Leather Community for its 3+ decades of compassionate response to the epidemic. Nancy Pelosi Dr. & Bowling Green Dr., Golden Gate Park, 11am.

Fri 4

SCCLA Bar Schmooze @ Renegades Bar

Informal social where friends, prospective members and anyone else who wants to relax, laugh, talk and hang out with like-minded people, 501 W. Taylor St., San Jose, 9pm.

Sober Kink Together @ Castro Country Club

Officially a CMA meeting, but open to all Anonymous 12-step Fellowship members, 4058 18th St., 9:30pm.

Gear Party @ 442 Natoma

Gear play party (leather, rubber, harnesses, etc.) for gay men. 442 Natoma St., $15 (requires $5 membership), 10pm.

Sat 5

Alameda County Leather Corps Santa's Slave Auction @ The World Famous Turf Club

Holiday pot luck, slaves to bid on, Stela D Love and the Burlesque Boys will be on hand to entertain, Mama's Toy Drive box on hand (so remember to bring and unwrapped toy or gift cards). 22519 Main St., Hayward, 6-10pm.

Mr. Edge Contest @ The Edge

Men compete to be Mr. Edge. 4149 18th St., 9pm.

Mon 7

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.

Thu 10

Hole-A-Day Party by Hell Hole @ Powerhouse

Complimentary buffet with baked ham, sides and tasty desserts; door prizes and Wrecked Hole-A-Day Music by Maestro Roberto-Juan Gonzalez. 1347 Folsom St., 7-9pm.

Fri 11

Sober Kink Together @ Castro Country Club

Officially a CMA meeting, but open to all Anonymous 12-step Fellowship members, 4058 18th St., 9:30pm.

Gear Party @ 442 Natoma

Gear play party (leather, rubber, harnesses, etc.) for gay men. 442 Natoma St., $15 (requires $5 membership), 10pm.

Sat 12

San Francisco K9 Unit Holiday Puppy Park Annual Fundraiser

Sniff and Wag social and professional pictures with sexy Santa Paws Dolan Wolf at Mr. S Leather, 11am-12:30pm with Puppy Mosh, gifts, stockings, raffle prizes and more at Levy Dance Studio, 1pm-4pm. Tickets and more information at

Leathermen's Discussion Group @ SF LGBT Center

Volunteer appreciation and holiday party. 1800 Market St., 4-6pm.

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