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Leather: Gifts with meaning

by Race Bannon

Toolboi enjoying some rope bondage suspension, one of the things attendees at Rope Burn SF can learn. photo: Waldemar Horwat
Toolboi enjoying some rope bondage suspension, one of the things attendees at Rope Burn SF can learn. photo: Waldemar Horwat  

Two events I attended this week made me consider giving gifts with meaning as we approach this holiday season. One was a grassroots fundraising effort for the victims of a recent Castro fire. The second was the annual Light in the Grove fundraiser for the National AIDS Memorial Grove.

Neither of these events have any specific kink relevance. You might wonder why I'm referencing them. They both made me think about the types of gifts that matter most in our lives. Hint: it's not usually the stuff.

Originally, I was just going to write about all the cool gift stuff you can get for people in your life with a kinky bent. That's still a nice thing to do. Given the choice between a new necktie or a new butt toy, I'll take the butt toy every time.

Should you decide to give someone a gift to spice up their sex life, there are a lot of options. Do an online search for "sex toys San Francisco" or "leather San Francisco" and many local retail options pop up. If you can, shop local. Keeping our local businesses alive makes for a better overall community.

When shopping for such stuff, remember that it's often the smaller gifts that are welcomed just as much if not more than the big gifts. Sure, many kinksters would love brand-new leather clothing or expensive dungeon furniture. If you have the financial means to buy such things for others, great!

But for most of us you could buy things that aren't expensive and we'd find the gift just as meaningful, and sometimes more so. Things like a special sexuality book, a package of new cock rings (because us guys lose or break those damn things all the time), some favorite lube, sexy jockstraps or underwear make fantastic gifts that won't break the bank, and they're gifts the receiver is likely to use.

Buy whatever you like. However, I'd like you to consider other types of gifts too, and this relates to the two events I alluded to earlier.

At one event, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence hosted a fundraiser at Oasis to raise money to help residents displaced by the terrible recent Castro Street fire. People opened their wallets and hearts to help. Lots of money was raised, but it was the outpouring of communal love, volunteerism and generosity that struck me so starkly as a meaningful gift.


Some of the patrons at the Light in the Grove fundraiser for the National AIDS Memorial Grove, during which they also welcomed back the AIDS Memorial Quilt to the Bay Area. photo: Steven Underhill  

The second event was Lights in the Grove. It raised a lot of money for the National AIDS Memorial Grove, specifically for their new project to bring the AIDS Memorial Quilt back to its Bay Area home. Money is vitally important. Again, though, the countless volunteers who made it happen impressed upon me that the giving of money or stuff is nice, but giving one's time to help others is a profoundly meaningful gift.

How does this translate into a holiday gift-giving guide? Let's think beyond the single approach of giving new stuff to others and perhaps see what other ways we can honor our gift-receiving friends.

When it comes to kink gear and toys, consider passing on some leather, fetish gear or sex toys you no longer fit into or use. To have optimal impact, a gift must have meaning. What could mean more than wearing or using something that meant a lot to a friend?

For those friends with whom you have an existing erotic connection (or would like to), offer your services to help them explore some new realm of sexuality they find interesting. One of the best presents I ever received was a greeting card from a play buddy. On the inside was written 'Redeem this card for 24 hours of my complete submission." I'll give you one guess whether I ended up using that gift. That was more than 25 years ago, and it remains among my favorite all-time gifts.


Sister Dana Van, Jimmy Strano and Migitte Nielson were among the attendees of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence's fundraiser for victims of the recent Castro Street fire. photo: Out of the Booth.  

How about a volunteering gift? Many of us have plenty of stuff, but we navigate within a world that can always use more volunteers to make the events, parties, fundraisers, classes and other things we do happen. You could contact all the kinksters on your holiday list and send them each a card stating that in their honor you will dedicate X number of hours this coming year volunteering to help certain communities.

Maybe someone has mentioned they'd like to learn about a specific kink activity. You could give the gift of paying for their entrance into a workshop on the topic and perhaps attend with them to share the experience.

Let's say you know a guy in your circle of friends who wants to learn rope bondage. You could offer to pay for their entrance into Rope Burn SF (RopeBurnSF.com), a casual monthly hands-on learning event for the art of rope restraint. Wouldn't that be a great gift? (Note: Rope Burn SF is free, but donations are gladly accepted.)

I'm all for cool new stuff, but the reality is many of us already have an abundance of stuff, kinky or otherwise. Offering an experience, volunteer hours, repurposed items, or a few kinky things that you're sure they'll want could provide for a more meaningful gift.

Happy Holidays!

Race Bannon is a local author, blogger and activist. www.bannon.com

For leather events, go to https://www.ebar.com/bartab/leather-kink


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