Living every kinky day
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It turns out I'm writing this on December 1, World AIDS Day. I hadn't planned it that way, but this somber day can't help but influence the tone of this week's column.
On this day I am remembering so many people, including my first partner, Kevin Lockwood, who died of AIDS on October 12, 1992. He was a leatherman. He was kinky. San Francisco was his favorite erotic playground. He was the nicest man you could ever meet. His life was cut short far too soon. Unlike me, he can't continue to enjoy the remarkable LGBTQ, leather, kink and sexual culture we enjoy in the Bay Area.
Kevin is of course not the only person any of us might love who is no longer with us. We all have those people in our lives. What has been impressed on me though on this poignant day of remembrance is that we should each of us grab on to life hard and live it as fully, beautifully and vibrantly as we can. For kinksters, that means taking full advantage of the many opportunities we have to commune and play with others of the kinky persuasion.
In that vein, on Saturday, November 24, I decided to push myself off my couch, out of the house, and into socializing amid the San Francisco kink world. I never regret when I do that. Never.
My first stop was to join the men of Onyx Northwest at the Powerhouse celebrating the one-year anniversary of their chapter's founding. This was one of a few events that took place over the weekend as part of their celebration.
In addition to the Powerhouse party, Onyx participated in a Gear Up Go Out bar crawl, an art reception, and showing of the Tom of Finland movie at Mr. S Leather.
Onyx is for men of color who enjoy leather and kink. Onyx provides kinky men of color an informational and social organization to address their unique needs within the overall kink communities. www.onyxnorthwest.com
Next stop was a stroll from Powerhouse to the SF Eagle where BLUF (Breeches and Leather Uniform Fanclub) SF was hosting its Tribe event. BLUF encourages men to come out and socialize in a heavily leathered, geared and uniformed sexy bar environment.
During their occasional Tribe events, monthly Leather Lounge gatherings also at the SF Eagle, and other events, BLUF SF provides gatherings for men who enjoy the more heavily decked-out version of our scene. www.blufsf.com
To finish out my Saturday trek through kinky gay San Francisco, I ended my night at the The Edge for their monthly Code party. The brainchild of Edge bartender Erick Lopez, the monthly party gives leather and kink culture an ongoing home in the Castro.
This Code had special significance because it was also a birthday celebration for Lopez. Erick is one of our local kink movers and shakers, not only through his work at The Edge but also through extensive volunteering. Happy birthday Erick! Our city is better because you're in it.
Fast forward to the following Friday, November 30, and I ended up at Light in the Grove, an annual event held in the National AIDS Memorial Grove on the eve of World AIDS Day. It's a beautiful event started by a candlelight reflection at the Circle of Friends, then a walk through a spectacularly-illuminated Redwood Grove to a warmly-lit banquet tent with cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and a buffet dinner with special musical and choreographed artistic performances. www.aidsmemorial.org
Now, why am I putting this in my column that's otherwise typically dedicated to leather, kink and other sexual and relationship radicals? It's to make a specific point.
I hear calls regularly from within the leather and kink worlds to "be visible" to make our scene welcoming while educating others about us. But you know what? You can't be visible if you only show up to the relatively smaller microcosm of just leather and kink events. You must get out there and mix and mingle with a wider cross section of humanity.
As I looked around the approximately 600 Light in the Grove attendees, what I noticed was the large number of them who I recognized as part of our scene. Whether dressed in tuxedo, gown, suit, dress, casual garb, or the leather me and my date wore, by leather/kink folks showing up and being present and "visible" at a non-kink event they made conversations and meetings possible that ultimately benefit us kinky folks too. If visibility is indeed important, we need to go outside of our bubble or else we're just constantly preaching to the choir.
Get up and go out. Yes, to leather and kink events, but also to other events at which our presence can be seen and recognized.
I had one more stop on December 1, again at The Edge. There was a meet and greet for the new Mr. San Francisco Rubber 2019, Alan Gamrica. Alan is a joy of a human being and follows in the footsteps of last year's impressive holder of that title, Nico Watson, who was recently first runner-up at Mr. International Rubber. To give people a sense of what it's like to feel rubber on their body, Gamrica was gleefully dressing grateful and excited bar patrons from his own kinky closet.
Gamrica is taking this concept even further by recently purchasing a lot of rubber gear in various sizes that can be used for the same purpose at future rubber events. What better way to tantalize and interest newbie rubberists than to dress them in some rubber for a few hours, answer their questions, and allow them to commune with others having the same interest?
I'm not always a big fan of overt outreach into non-kinky realms. I feel the best way to garner newcomers is by attraction more than promotion. Gamrica's unique approach offers an example of effective outreach that I'd like to see more kinksters emulate. He attracted them to rubber rather than tried to promote it. Bravo.
Phew. That's a lot of events. But you know what? That's just a fraction of what the Bay Area has to offer LGBTQ kinksters every week in this bevy of kink riches we enjoy.
Go out. Mix and mingle with kinksters. There is so much going on for you to enjoy whether it's bars, dances, classes, art, community projects, group outings or shopping, There is no excuse for any Bay Area kinkster saying to themselves "there's nothing to do." There's a lot to do. Go do it.
Race Bannon is a local author, blogger and activist. www.bannon.com