The scene is alive and well
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Every so often I'm reminded of how vibrant our San Francisco Bay Area leather and kink scene is and how lucky those of us who live here are to so easily be our true erotic selves. This past week was a clear reminder that our local scene is most definitely alive and well.
Three recent events stood out for me because they represent what are to me vitally important things for our scene to address - fully embracing women and people of color kinksters, and supporting our often-dwindling public gathering places.
IMsL/IMsBB, otherwise known as the International Ms. Leather and International Ms. Bootblack weekend and contest, took place April 19-22, in San Jose. More than 750 people attended.
The producers of this weekend do an amazing job of mounting not just one of the best-produced contests in the country, but also an array of welcoming social gatherings, classes and entertainment. While this event is rightly focused on leather women, the producers and volunteers go out of their way to embrace everyone. Their own event Diversity Statement sums up their approach nicely.
"The IMsL/IMsBB weekend should be an inclusive and sex positive space for all people. All are welcome, and racism, transphobia, and other forms of discrimination have no place here. An important part of the weekend is exploring how the intersectionality of race, class, gender, and ability affect experiences of leather, kink, and sexualities. We must make a commitment to enriching these intersectionalities not only at the weekend but throughout our communities. We will work toward this goal."
While there is no such thing as a perfectly produced event and we all need to give well-intentioned producers credit for creating the array of leather and kink events we can all attend, these producers really do go the extra mile to ensure everyone feels welcome. Some other events could learn by their example.
In the contest, seven competed for the International Ms. Leather title and five for International Ms. Bootblack.
The new International Ms. Leather is girl ang, who, being from Australia, became the first holder of this title from outside North America. The runner-up was Jesbian.
A Bay Area local, Teagan, won International Ms. Bootblack, and became the second transgender woman to hold the title. The runner up was Brynn.
Sir Dom from Montreal was selected by the entire class as the Heart and Soul winner for their service and compassion all weekend.
A dedicated staff and host of volunteers worked throughout the event. Girl Complex and Elisa delivered beautiful step aside speeches and Bootpig delivered the weekend's keynote address.
The 20th Anniversary of the IMsBB title was celebrated with a master restoration class, West Coast preview of the movie Shiners, and an IMsBB alumni panel. There was also Seduction, workshops, hospitality parties, ONYX dance party, vending, silent auction, the pool party, Bawdy Storytelling, and an active play space.
Well done IMsL/IMsBB; another great weekend. I'm looking forward to next year. www.imslbb.org
ONYX Northwest at LDG
Kinky men of color face unique challenges as they come to embrace their edgier sexual proclivities while at the same time attempting to socialize and bond with the various kink communities that have often historically been quite white in their composition.
A wonderful national organization, ONYX, has spawned a new local chapter in our area, ONYX Northwest. Some of the men from this new local club were on a panel at the most recent SF Leathermen's Discussion Group monthly event.
The panel was asked questions by the moderator and audience and the panelists offered a wealth of information about the leather and kink experience from their perspective.
While much was discussed, one thing stood out for me the most. It's perhaps the simplest but most important thing that white kinksters can do to better include men of color (which of course also means anyone of color in our scene).
Reach out and talk to people of color when you see them in our bars and at our events. There was a lot of great feedback and advice given by the panelists, but this one came up a few times and resonated with me. Nothing replaces each of us taking responsibility for acknowledging and engaging with those who might not easily see themselves reflected in the bulk of the leather and kink worlds.
Let's do better to make our kinky realm welcoming to everyone.
The men of ONYX Northwest hope kinky men of color and their allies check out their club and join them at their events. www.onyxnorthwest.com
The Eagle Turns 5!
During their usual Sunday beer bust time slot, the San Francisco Eagle had a fantastic five-year anniversary block party on April 29. It's been five years since the new Eagle owners, Lex Montiel and Mike Leon, re-opened the historic bar after its future languished for a while.
The Eagle and event producer Brian Kent blocked off a section of 12th Street in front of their bar to create a large party venue. The street and bar were packed with an enthusiastic crowd.
A new Eagle Feather Award was given to some community members by the SF Eagle to honor their service. I was lucky to have been one of those selected to receive the award, along with Jason Husted, Sandy Mama Reinhart, Daddy Ray Tilton, and Beth Bicoastal.
Local leather community staple Lenny Broberg emceed the event, along with the reigning Empress Pollo Del Mar. Celebrity guests Mark Leno, Donna Sachet, Audrey Joseph, Scott Wiener and Brian Kent presented to the Eagle Feather Award honorees.
A steady stream of entertainment and music was provided by bands Ethel Merman Experience, Diesel Dudes, and Bitch, Please!, along with DJs David Harness and Don Baird.
It was a beautiful afternoon and the owners of the Eagle held true to their business's mission statement.
"We are committed to bring everyone together and be an anchor for diversity and inclusion. We are dedicated to not only celebrate the heritage of this institution, but we are also boosting our range of influence by producing and hosting multiple events to bring all factions of our society together. We want to continue to include organizations representing all genders and sexual orientation."
Bravo, SF Eagle. You are doing just that. www.sf-eagle.com
Race Bannon is a local author, blogger and activist. You can reach him on his website, www.bannon.com
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