Out in the Bay: 'Queer and kinky' Race Bannon on Folsom Street and fetish

  • by Christopher J. Beale
  • Thursday September 22, 2022
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This photo of Race Bannon accompanied his last column for the Bay Area Reporter in June 2020. Photo: Alex Ray<br>
This photo of Race Bannon accompanied his last column for the Bay Area Reporter in June 2020. Photo: Alex Ray

"I am both queer and kinky," said Race Bannon. The leather activist, author, sex educator, kink aficionado, and former Bay Area Reporter columnist talks about fetish and shares his tales on this week's Out in the Bay Queer Radio + Podcast.

The timing of Bannon's appearance on Out in the Bay is no accident, as many thousands of fetishists and their fans stream into San Francisco from around the world for Folsom Street Fair 2022. This San Francisco tradition dates back to 1984 and brings kinksters of all sorts to streets in the city's South of Market neighborhood this Sunday, September 25. (Last year's event, Megahood2021, was a scaled down version and the fair was virtual in 2020 due to COVID.)

If you've not witnessed the Folsom Street Fair before, said Bannon: "Imagine a couple hundred thousand people on the streets of San Francisco, blocked off in a kind of a party atmosphere.

"Typically you wouldn't just go to some sidewalk anywhere in the street and start spanking someone. Well, that may happen at Folsom Street Fair, and you're gonna be watching it," he said, accompanied by many of "the kinkiest people from around the world, descending on San Francisco for this largest kink fetish event in the world."

Kink is "not just the act in the bedroom or the playroom or whatever, it goes well beyond that," Bannon tells this week's Out in the Bay host Christopher J. Beale. "Kink is both an activity in a community and an identity for people who like to explore sexuality on the edges ... anything that plays outside of the norms of sexuality," and includes "how we dress, how we socialize, how we interact with each other."

Numerous parties and events surround the street fair, but there is also a shadow over this year's festivities ... MPX (previously known as monkeypox and pronounced "empox" according to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation's website). MPX cases in San Francisco have held steady at 789 since September 15, according to the Department of Public Health's website. SFDPH has also expanded vaccine eligibility to out-of-town visitors through October 2, as the B.A.R. has reported.

"The basics are taken care of in terms of safety," Bannon said, adding that the Folsom Street team is great at its job. "I have to say I'm very impressed with how the community responded to MPX," Bannon added with pride. "They deserve a lot of credit for responding so quickly, and so robustly. But each individual person makes their own safety decisions."

Bannon discusses his coming out, how he discovered kink, his creative endeavors — including seven years writing the B.A.R.'s leather column and his podcast, "On Guard Cigar Salon" — tips for newcomers curious about kink, and much more on this week's Out in the Bay.

Hear more from Race Bannon on Out in the Bay. The program airs at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, September 22, on KSFP, 102.5 FM San Francisco only; 5 p.m. Friday, September 23, on KALW, 91.7 FM SF Bay Area-wide; and again on KSFP at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, September 24. It is always available on Out in the Bay's website.

Christopher J. Beale is a queer independent radio host, producer, and journalist. He is a frequent contributor to Out in the Bay, the B.A.R., and KQED.

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