Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 25 / 22 June 2017
 

What is leather and kink pride?

Leather


For the 22nd time the Leather Pride contingent will march in this year's Pride Parade, as they did here in 2015. photo: Rich Stadtmiller
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Pride is upon us. While some cities have already celebrated this year and some will celebrate after we do, this coming weekend is our big San Francisco set of events. Please everyone, have gobs of fun, be safe, and watch out for each other.

I've written about pride before, and leather pride specifically, but I think in the current national climate, LGBTQ leatherfolk and kinksters are rightfully concerned. Perhaps this year's Pride holds a special significance for many of us.

But what is pride for us as kinky people?

The Macmillan Dictionary defines pride as: (1) a feeling of pleasure and satisfaction that you get when you, or someone connected with you, have achieved something special; (2) a feeling of respect for yourself; (3) a feeling that you are better or more important than other people; or (4) a group of lions.

Which definition applies to us? Let's eliminate number 4 since, well, we're not lions. Number 3 feels entirely arrogant and off-putting. A case could be made for number 1, but is it really all that noble to honor achieving something (well yes, sometimes)? So that leaves us with number 2.

Yes! That's what resonates with me when we talk about leather and kink pride. A sense of respect for ourselves, including a respect for ourselves collectively, as LGBTQ and kinky. Fully embracing and respecting our sexual proclivities and erotic identities, both individually and as a set of tightly integrated kink communities, is what I think pride is for us kinky folks. At least that's the definition that works for me.

Leather pride isn't something I ever really thought much about when I entered the scene in the early 1970s. The concept really didn't come up much at all until the late, great Tony DeBlase presented his design for the leather pride flag at the International Mr. Leather contest in Chicago in 1989. His design has stood the test of time and has been widely adopted as our scene's ubiquitous banner. (For more about the history of the Leather Pride flag, visit: http://www.leatherarchives.org/pride.html)

From the moment DeBlase offered us the flag, leather pride as a communal experience has grown in prevalence and is now a solidified idea among our kind. But like so many things in life, just because something's an accepted norm doesn't mean everyone agrees on what it means. Ask 100 people what leather/kink pride means to them and you might get 100 different answers.

When I've asked people what leather or kink pride means to them, the answers varied. Freedom. Family. Authenticity. Brother/sister-hood. Acceptance. Liberation.

The leather pride flag has become the banner representing the leather communities. Here, two participants in 2016 s Pride March hold a Leather flag. photo: Daniel Samblanet

However, pride as having a feeling of respect for yourself, and by extension for other kinksters, is likely something we can all agree on. At least I hope so. I think having respect to some extent encapsulates all those other reasons.

For those who might wish to express their leather or kink pride by walking in the Pride Parade on Sunday, June 25, there is a Leather Pride contingent you can join. If you'd like to march with them, they're lining up at Mission and Spear Streets.

Their parade lineup position is 50, which is close to the front of the parade, considering the parade's size. Be there no later than 10:00 a.m. with a projected step-off on to the Market Street parade route around 11:00 a.m.

This is the 22nd year that the San Francisco Leather Pride Contingent has walked in the parade. The contingent represents all leather, fetish, sex-positive and motorcycle groups in the Bay Area. They welcome the entire range of diversity within those groups. If you're a leather or kink person visiting from another city, you're also welcomed to walk with the contingent.

Leather trailblazer Tony DeBlase presented his design for a leather pride flag during the International Mr. Leather 1989 contest in Chicago. photo: Mr. Marcus

Another way to experience leather camaraderie during the Pride Festival itself is to visit Leather Alley. Leather Alley describes itself as envisioning community and education simultaneously. The Alley happens on the Sunday of the Pride Parade from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and it's an entire block long, on Hyde Street between Golden Gate and McAllister, within the Pride Festival grounds.

The Alley is for anyone from the leather or kink communities or anyone interested in or curious about leather, BDSM, kink or fetish. The space allows people to come together and spend time with experienced scene members to foster friendship and family in a safe and supportive environment, and to provide access and information for newcomers to the scene.

You can go to the Alley to hang out and relax during or after the San Francisco Pride Parade with others from the kink/leather/fetish community in a casual, bar-like setting. Educational demonstrations take place there as well.

While expressing our pride at this time of year is awesome, the truest expression of pride might be regularly engaging with our leather/kink communities and showing up at our venues, events and gatherings. Pride events might punctuate our sense of pride, but nothing beats seeing each other face-to-face and socializing, bonding and playing. Let's all try to do more of that.

 

Famed human rights leader and activist Cleve Jones will be interviewed at this month s San Francisco Leathermen's Discussion Group event.

Cleve and Race at LDG

Finally, regarding the national climate we now find ourselves in and the quite real threat it poses to our LGBTQ and sexuality rights, I'd like to do something I rarely do and promote an event at which I'll be featured. I don't think you can talk about pride without learning how to best foster a political environment in which our pride can thrive.

On Wednesday, June 28, I will be interviewing the remarkable human rights activist and leader Cleve Jones for this month's San Francisco Leathermen's Discussion Group (LDG). This month's LDG gathering will be held at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center at 1800 Market Street at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 7:00 p.m.

Many will remember Cleve Jones most recently as the author of his acclaimed When We Rise autobiography that also partly inspired the ABC miniseries of the same name in which Cleve's life was featured as a main character. The LDG event is titled "First They Came for the Muslims and We Said 'Not Today Motherfucker.'"

While it's sometimes easy for us in the Bay Area to take for granted the freedoms we enjoy as leatherfolk and kinksters, as well as being LGBTQ, our freedom didn't fall into our laps. It was fought for and those struggles continue today. We could easily lose many of the rights we've gained if we aren't diligent and engaged in both local and national politics.

We have resisted many enemies to our LGBTQ, leather and kink cultures, but none quite like those represented by the occupants of the White House today and those who have put their own agenda before both their party and their country by propping them up.

During the interview, I will discuss with Cleve the issues facing us today and elicit from him stories about how the LGBTQ community has succeeded in standing up for itself and others, and how we can best galvanize and resist those enemy forces we face today.

I hope to see many of my readers there.

Have a great Pride! Be out. Be proud. Be visible. And as Ellen DeGeneres is always fond of saying, "be kind to one another."

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

Within the leather communities there are subsets of kink pride. This flag held by a Leather Pride contingent marcher in last year s Pride Parade symbolizes Rubber Pride. photo: Daniel Samblanet

Leather Events, June 23 – July 7, 2017

There's always a lot going on in the San Francisco Bay Area for leather and other kinksters.

Fri 23

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.castrocountryclub.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 24

Clean & Sober Pride Munch @ Wicked Grounds

Gathering for all local clean and sober kinksters, with a special invitation to sober folks visiting for Pride weekend. 289 8th St., 6-8pm. www.wickedgrounds.com

GearUp Weekend Pre-Pride Play Party @ SF Catalyst

Black is the New Pink' at the friendly erotic space where kinky men can socialize with, learn from and play with other men. 1060 Folsom St., $20, 8pm-12am. www.gearupweekend.com

Sun 25

Leather Pride Contingent @ SF Pride Parade

March with the contingent in the San Francisco Pride Parade. Information is on the website. www.sfleather.org

Leather Alley @ SF Pride Festival

Leather Alley envisions community and education simultaneously. Leather Alley is an entire block long – Hyde Street between Golden Gate and McAllister, just one block off the main plaza. 11am-6pm. www.leatheralliance.org/education/leather-alley-at-pride

Mon 26

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 28

Leathermen's Discussion Group @ SF LGBT Community Center

Cleve Jones, with the timely release of his memoir When We Rise and the TV miniseries adapted from the book, talks with Race Bannon and inspires with conversation and stories about the gay community's success standing up for itself and others. 1800 Market St. Doors at 7pm, program at 7:30pm. www.sfldg.org

Leather/Gear/Underwear Buddies @ Blow Buddies

Erotic fun for leather, gear and underwear guys, $15, 933 Harrison St., 8pm. www.blowbuddies.com

Fri 30

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.castrocountryclub.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 2

LeatherWalk Beer Bust @ SF Eagle

Help support the annual LeatherWalk. 398 12th St., 3-6pm. www.sf-eagle.com

Mon 3

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

Fri 7

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.castrocountryclub.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






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