Thankfully kinky

  • by Race Bannon
  • Wednesday November 20, 2019
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Billy O'Connell, founder of Photo: Ghee Phua
Billy O'Connell, founder of Photo: Ghee Phua

It's that time of year again when we're all preparing to be thankful. Thanksgiving is around the corner and many of us will gather with family or friends, kinky or otherwise, and hopefully enjoy the holiday pondering that for which we're thankful.

The life-changing power of thankfulness, gratitude or appreciation, however you want to phrase it, is accepted among many of the greatest philosophers and thinkers.

Essayist and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude."

Roman Emperor and stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius said, "All you need are these: certainty of judgment in the present moment; action for the common good in the present moment; and an attitude of gratitude in the present moment for anything that comes your way."

My favorite gratitude quote comes from English poet John Milton. "Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world."

Being thankful for what we have serves as a foundation to build the strength to persevere in trying times and to allow ourselves to acknowledge what good we do have in our lives upon which we can build further happiness and success.

Joan Norry, a longtime and highly respected person in our local leather scene. Photo: Mark I. Chester  

As a local gay kinkster, I'm thankful for a lot.

I'm thankful to live in a place that recognizes the value of the leather and LGBTQ communities, not just with words, but through actions like endorsing the Leather and LGBTQ Cultural District and supporting the construction of the new Eagle Plaza.

I'm thankful that despite concerted efforts by conservative right-wing forces, our sexualities and our culture continue to thrive and grow.

I'm thankful to live in a place that not only has a year-long bustling leather, kink and erotic culture, but also has events like Folsom Street Fair, Up Your Alley and Pride that brings kinky and LGBTQ people in from all over the world to enjoy our city, and for us to enjoy those people.
I'm thankful for the amazing work our local public health officials have done to bring about awareness of undetectable is untransmittable and PrEP bringing our city much closer to getting to zero new HIV infections. This has done much to revive gay men's sexual culture.

I'm thankful to live in a place that continues to lead on issues like civil rights while acknowledging that LGBTQ and kinky people are worthy of a place at the table.

Those are just some of the things for which I'm grateful.

Amp Somers, who educates newcomers and seasoned kink players alike on his YouTube channel, Watts the Safeword. Photo: Kegan Marling  

Thankful Kinksters

I asked a few local kinksters who do good things for our communities what they're grateful for in this wonderful city of ours.

Joan Norry, someone whose perspective I respect in our scene, had this to say about being thankful and I think her answer reflects how many other kinksters feel.

"As somebody who keeps a clear definition between community and lifestyle I would say I'm thankful for the community and the decades of work that people have done to get us to a place where we can meet and do the things that make us who we are. I am thankful to be a part of that community,
past, present and hopefully in the future. I'm thankful for the community that keeps evolving to include who we are today and who will be coming into our community in the future, and for the generosity and support of strangers for events and projects based solely on our shared lifestyle."

Billy O'Connell, the founder of Leathermen Travel ( was succinct in expressing his thanks.

"I'm thankful for San Francisco's supportive leather community and a worldwide brotherhood of leathermen."

Christopher Wood, a local leatherman who is known for his tireless volunteer work within the BDSM and kink communities. Photo: Whisper  

If you're a leatherman and haven't checked out Billy's website yet, do so. It's a great resource for the traveling leatherman (and for that I'm thankful).

Amp Somers, of Watts the Safeword and Mr. Friendly SF fame, offers his own take on thankfulness to which I think just about every kinkster can relate.

"I think many kinksters can recall that first fetish that caused their stomach to flutter. For me, it was being caught in a game of 'cops and robbers' as a kid and (very horribly) tied up and suddenly having a very terrifying boner. It scared me. Made me feel like I was broken or something was wrong with me for being turned on. That is until I grew up and found the kink community, found the words to explain what I liked, how to connect through my kinks and find a welcome place to explore."

One of the more tireless contributors to our local scene is Christopher Wood. Here's his statement of thanks.

"I am thankful to live a reality I've crafted from fantasy. My ever-changing world is born and reborn from the creative, perverted minds of my family, my community, and myself. It is this erotic freedom for which I am most grateful as a kinky man."

What are you thankful for? Take a few minutes to think about that. Reflecting on what's good in our lives, that for which we're thankful, can bolster us in harder times and help us all realize, among other things, that we're rather damn lucky to be Bay Area LGBTQ kinksters.

Race Bannon is a local author, blogger and activist.

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