Issue:  Vol. 45 / No. 36 / 3 September 2015
 
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Women Are Doing It For Themselves

Leather


Rio Spooner, co-coordinator of The Exiles, and this year's Woman Leather Marshal for the leather contingent in San Francisco's Pride Parade. photo: Race Bannon
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One thing that's quite clear to anyone paying attention is that within the leather and kink LGBT realm, gay men get most of the attention. It's just how it shakes out much of the time. But I think it's important that the other segments of the scene get their fair share of attention, including in this column where I'd like to discuss kinky women.

The San Francisco Bay Area is luckier than most metropolitan areas. We have an abundance of options for local kinksters. Leather culture has historically valued the deep connections and networking that clubs can provide its members and those who frequent the club's events.

Two important women's clubs in the Bay Area are The Exiles (www.theexiles.org) and the San Francisco girls of Leather (www.sfgol.org).

By far, The Exiles, which was recently honored with the Pantheon of Leather's 2015 Award for Small Club of the Year, is the older of the two clubs. The Exiles was founded in 1997 as a successor organization to The Outcasts, which was founded as a successor to Samois, which was founded in 1978 as one of the first women's leather organizations in the country.

Rio Spooner, one of the co-coordinators for The Exiles, described the club this way.

"We offer educational programs for women who have a positive personal interest in BDSM. Some years ago we broadened our definition of 'women' to include anyone who does not self-identify as male, so as to welcome genderqueer, genderfluid, and non-binary people to our programs and events as well. We also go out of our way to welcome transwomen. We are a predominantly lesbian group, but we have many straight and bisexual members as well. Our current membership is over 100 people. We are an all-volunteer organization, from the officers to the presenters to the event planners."

The Exiles maintains a focus on education rather than fundraising or service. They hold monthly educational programs, usually on the third Friday of every month, at the Center for Sex and Culture in San Francisco. They also hold a monthly social gathering in Oakland.

Their programs might be hands-on BDSM technique classes, presentations or discussions on a wide range of related topics. They consider it important to offer classes just for women where they can feel safe, empowered, and have their voices heard.

In addition to the educational aspect, The Exiles tries to be a group where women can comfortably hang out together, socialize, cruise, and explore their identities as women in BDSM.

A newer local club is the San Francisco girls of Leather. Zed Zeinz, the current President, told me about the history of the club's founding.

"The first San Francisco girls of Leather was created in 2004 and ended in early 2007. The current San Francisco girls of Leather club started in 2010. We created a new logo, a new mission statement, and new bylaws. Though there was much support from former girls, this is a new club with new girls and a new life. We strive for a balance of community service and social activities. SFgoL is proud to be celebrating our five-year anniversary."

Zeinz went on to explain what she sees as the unique aspects of her club.

"Our club is a magical mixture of community service, silliness, and sisterhood," she said. "We work hard, play hard, and try to not take ourselves too seriously. All self-identified leathergirls are welcome, no matter sex, gender, orientation, BDSM role, relationship status or anything else. If you identify as a leathergirl, check us out. If you don't know what a leathergirl is, but you think you may be one, check us out. We've also been having more 'SFgoL and Friends' events, where everyone is welcome, and they are great gatherings at which to ask questions."

Members of the San Francisco girls of Leather gather at Debauchery, one of their social events. photo: San Francisco girls of Leather

Kink space: separate or together?

These days, when you talk about men's or women's clubs or events, the issue of inclusion versus exclusion inevitably arises. Spooner gave me her take on this.

"There's a lot of talk lately about various organizations – men, women, queer, and so on – having their own spaces," she said. "On the one hand, I think it's crucial for all marginalized peoples to have space where they can be themselves, with people who understand and share their journey. I think we have a lot of that in the Bay Area, and we all respect each other's individual needs and spaces. On the other hand, it can sometimes keep us from focusing on the things that truly bind us together. And it holds us back from solidarity across the lines of gender and sexual identity."

The same attitude seems to be reflected in Zeinz's perspective on this topic.

"I think separate spaces where folk can celebrate with others like them is a great and needed thing. I also believe that only spending time with others like you robs you of all the amazing people and experiences there are to see and do. Find a balance that works for you."

In smaller communities that don't have the diverse set of leather and kink social and networking options that the Bay Area does, the various genders and orientations tend to join forces with combined organizations and events. It's sometimes difficult for them to maintain both combined and separate spaces to allow both types of experiences. This is, yet again, why the kinksters of our area are so lucky. We do, indeed, have it all. And these two great women's organizations are an important part of the larger set of local options.

Heidi (left) and Zed Zeinz (right), president of the San Francisco girls of Leather. photo: San Francisco girls of Leather

You can find out more about both organizations by visiting their websites. Each site also has a calendar of the club's events. They both have events coming up at which you can mingle with club members and friends and find out more about them.

The Exiles is hosting a Folsom "Meat and Greet" social on September 25 from 7-10pm at the Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission Street in San Francisco. All genders and identities are welcome at this event.

The San Francisco girls of Leather is hosting a social for its members and friends on September 15 from 7:30-9:30pm at the SF Eagle, 398 12th Street in San Francisco. All genders and identities are also welcome at this event.

Both clubs also maintain a presence on Facebook and FetLife. You can connect with them there also.

If you're a kinky woman in the Bay Area, definitely check out these two wonderful clubs. I know many of their members and they're friendly and welcoming people.

Race Bannon is a local author, blogger and activist. You can reach him on his website, www.bannon.com.



Leather Events, September 4-20, 2015

Leather and other kink events continue through September, leading up to the annual Folsom Street Fair (Sept. 27); but more on that in upcoming columns.

Women enjoying last year's Folsom Street Fair. photo: Rich Stadtmiller

Fri 4

SCCLA Bar Schmooz @ Renegades Bar, San Jose

Informal social where friends, prospective members and anyone else who wants to relax, laugh, talk and hang out with like-minded people, 501 W. Taylor St., San Jose, 9pm. www.renegadesbar.com

Sober Kink Together @ Castro Country Club

Officially a CMA meeting, but open to all Anonymous 12-step Fellowship members, 4058 18th St., 9:30pm. www.castrocountry.club.org

Gear Party @ 442 Natoma

Gear play party (leather, rubber, harnesses, etc.) for gay men. 442 Natoma St., $15 (requires $5 membership), 10pm. www.442parties.com

Mon 7

Ride Mondays @ Eros

A motorcycle rider and leathermen night at Eros, bring your helmet, AMA card, MC club card or club colors and get $3 off entry or massage. 2051 Market St. www.erossf.com

Wed 9

Golden Shower Buddies @ Blow Buddies

A men's water sports night, Golden Shower Buddies, $15 with membership, 933 Harrison St., 8pm. www.blowbuddies.com

Thu 10

Red Hanky Nite @ Powerhouse

Bar night for men into fisting. 1347 Folsom St., 7pm. www.hellholesf.com

CineKink Oakland Encore Screening @ The New Parkway

Following the sold-out screening in August, this event is back for a special encore. 474 24th St., Oakland, 9pm. www.cinekink.com

Fri 11

Cigar Play Party @ Blow Buddies

Cigar guys will once again take over the back patio of Blow Buddies for some sexy cigar fun. Please invite your fellow stogie buddies. 933 Harrison St., 9pm. www.blowbuddies.com

Sober Kink Together @ Castro Country Club

Officially a CMA meeting, but open to all Anonymous 12-step Fellowship members, 4058 18th St., 9:30pm. www.castrocountry.club.org

Gear Party @ 442 Natoma

Gear play party (leather, rubber, harnesses, etc.) for gay men. 442 Natoma St., $15 (requires $5 membership), 10pm. www.442parties.com/

Sun 13

15 Association Beer Bust @ SF Eagle

Join the men of The 15 Association at their beer bust. 398 12th St., 3pm. www.the15sf.org

Mon 14

Ride Mondays @ Eros

A motorcycle rider and leathermen night at Eros, bring your helmet, AMA card, MC club card or club colors and get $3 off entry or massage. 2051 Market St. www.erossf.com

Wed 16

Handball Academy Program @ Center for Sex & Culture

Two medical doctors are on hand to answer your questions. 349 Mission St., 7pm. www.handballacademy.org

Fri 18

City of Wounded Boys & Sexual Warriors @ Center for Sex & Culture

A 38-year retrospective of the photographs of San Francisco gay radical sex photographer Mark I Chester (also showing during the entire month of September). 1349 Mission St., 7pm. www.sexandculture.org

Sober Kink Together @ Castro Country Club

Officially a CMA meeting, but open to all Anonymous 12-step Fellowship members, 4058 18th St., 9:30pm. www.castrocountry.club.org

Gear Party @ 442 Natoma

Gear play party (leather, rubber, harnesses, etc.) for gay men. 442 Natoma St., $15 (requires $5 membership), 10pm. www.442parties.com

Sat 19

Alden Spafford Progressive Dinner @ SOMA

Progressive dinner held annually in memory of Alden Spafford, $15 ($20 at door), 4-9pm. See www.leatheralliance.org for details.

The Leather Social - San Francisco Edition! @ SF Eagle

Gear up, get out of the house and hang out with other leathermen in a cigar-friendly space. The intended focus is just to meet up. 398 12th St., 9pm. www.sf-eagle.com

BLUF Invasion @ SF Eagle

Bar night for all gear men. Mingle with the men of BLUF, HOTBOOTS and Bay Area Cigar Buddies. 398 12th St., 9pm. www.bluf.com

Sun 20

LeatherWalk 2014 @ Harvey Milk Plaza

LeatherWalk is the official kick-off of San Francisco Leather Week which culminates one week later at Folsom Street Fair. LeatherWalk raises awareness and visibility and helps to build community. 2401 Market St., 10am. www.leatherwalk.org

Kinky Coders @ Wicked Grounds

Join us for an afternoon of working on programming projects, networking, picking up new languages, and making new friends at the Kinky Coder munch. 289 8th St., 1pm. www.wickedgrounds.com






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