Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 50 / 14 December 2017
 

Give the gift of volunteering

Leather


Contestants at this year's Mr. SF Eagle contest (left to right): Dirk Nettles, first runner up; Colton Long, winner; and Kevin Harding-Toy. photo: Stephen Kling
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ADVERTISMENT

This is my 100th Bay Area Reporter column. How time flies. It seems like only recently I was asked to take over this illustrious and sacred publication space that has documented such a long leather history. I'm grateful for the opportunity and hope what I write here has some value in your life.

As is befitting my 100th, I wanted to write about something that I consider truly important to the leather and kink communities. Also, since it's the holiday season, I wondered if I could create some sort of tie-in with that as well.

The answer fell into my lap unexpectedly. A friend mentioned the drop-off he'd seen in people volunteering, and my column topic antennae started to vibrate.

I'd heard this same complaint about lack of volunteers from elsewhere. So, I felt compelled to write about giving the gift of volunteering because it's only through our volunteer efforts that we build the cogs and wheels that create and manage our organized kink scene. It's only through volunteering that we build community. It's only through volunteering that we have any sort of leather scene at all.

Consider offering your time to a worthwhile local leather or kink group, event or project. Volunteers are always needed. Always. It's rare that an organization or event has too many volunteers.

Volunteering has many benefits for those who do it.

A growing body of research has shown that when people volunteer they feel much more socially connected and that connection wards off depression and loneliness.

Those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, lower blood pressure and demonstrate greater functional abilities.

While everyone benefits both mentally and physically from volunteering, older people experience even more of those benefits. So, our kink communities should be leveraging older participants whenever possible.

Volunteering has so many other upsides for us kinky folks. We learn more from each other. We engage with more people and build friendships and social networks. We help create the good and meaningful experiences that other kinksters have and that brings us incredible levels of satisfaction and fulfillment.

To volunteer is to give to both yourself and others the gift of happiness.

As for volunteerism lagging lately, one thing every organization or event needs to remember is that a volunteer's job should never feel like drudgery. Even when the work is not thrilling in and of itself, the reward of feeling they belong in a cause they believe in will keep your volunteers committed and coming back if you emphasize those aspects.

When a group or event has volunteer needs, I strongly recommend an official volunteer coordinator be appointed. This person's full-time task is to find and inspire volunteers, to coordinate their duties and schedules, and just as importantly, to effusively and appropriately thank them for their service.

Give volunteers something to take pride in. Link their volunteer hours directly to the good they're doing. From the start, assign dignity and value to everything volunteers do. Nothing replaces a well-worded and public thank you, but small tokens of appreciation like free access to an event or a specially designed t-shirt can sweeten the thanks even more.

If volunteering on its own merits isn't necessarily a draw for you, consider this. Volunteering gets you laid. Really, it does!

A friend recounted a lovely story of when a guy approached him about volunteering, telling my friend, "I'm really shy and have a hard time meeting people. Is there a job I could do where I'd be forced to talk to strangers?"

The guy ended up volunteering and it changed not only his relationship to the community, but ultimately even his relationship to himself. In the process he met another shy guy at the event at which he was volunteering, and they're married now.

Speaking of volunteering, here are three local events I attended this past week that clearly illustrate the importance of people pitching in to help to make our various leather and kink events happen.

 

Onyx Northwest members (front left to right) Graylin Thornton, Darius, Danny Nguyen, (back left to right) Jack Thompson and Trey, met recently for a Tom of Finland movie reception at the Powerhouse. photo: Race Bannon

Onyx Northwest Tom of Finland Reception

One of my favorite all-volunteer organizations is Onyx, an organization formed and operated by men of color who enjoy the leather lifestyle. The national organization recently approved a local Onyx Northwest chapter and that chapter met at the Powerhouse on Saturday, November 25, 2017, for a Tom of Finland movie reception in collaboration with the Roxy Theater where the movie was playing.

Lots of volunteers make both the larger national Onyx organization and the local Onyx Northwest chapter function and thrive.

 

Mr. SF Eagle Leather

On Saturday, December 2, 2017, the SF Eagle held its annual contest to select the new Mr. SF Eagle Leather. Producers Alex Montiel, Mike Leon and Gage Fisher planned the evening's agenda well, and emcees Beth Bicoastal and Harrison Kong kept the proceedings moving along nicely as a large turnout packed together to watch the contest.

Judges for this year's contest were Matthew McGowen, Cody Elkin, Michael Lara, Daddy Ray Tilton and Erick Lopez. The contestants they were charged with judging were Dirk Nettles, Colton Long and Kevin Harding-Toy.

When votes were tallied, the winner was Colton Long with Dirk Nettles taking first runner up. Colton will move on to complete in the Mr. San Francisco Leather contest in early March 2018.

This contest was yet one more illustration of volunteering, because it's volunteers that make it happen.

 

Every year the San Francisco Bay Area Leather Alliance hosts a volunteer appreciation holiday party. Pictured are some of those in attendance at least year's party. photo: Rich Stadtmiller

Appreciating Volunteers

One of the key ways good volunteer coordinators know to keep volunteers happy and coming back to help is by acknowledging their service, appreciating them, letting them know their contributions are valued.

Each year that's exactly what the San Francisco Bay Area Leather Alliance does, and they did it again this year on Sunday, December 3. 2017, at their Volunteer Appreciation Holiday Party. Volunteers from all walks of the local leather and kink scene were in attendance, and they absolutely felt appreciated.

 

Make a Commitment

Again, nothing really happens in our scene without volunteers. We can't rely on a few commercial enterprises to keep it all alive. It takes an army of us volunteers to make the rest of it manifest.

As we experience this holiday season and the new year approaches, why don't you make a commitment to volunteer somewhere? Do it with a leather or kink club, organization, event or project that resonates with you. Talk to others. Ask about where you might be able to help and where your interests and skill sets sync with others' needs.

There's a place for everyone in our communities to volunteer. Find your place. Give yourself that gift.

 

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

 

Leather Events, December 7-22, 2017

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

Thu 7

Fetish and Fantasy @ SF Catalyst

The theme is 'Talk dirty! Listen hard!' For this meeting, the initial topic will be Dominating, Submitting, and Just Getting Used. 1060 Folsom St., 7-9pm. www.sfcatalyst.org

Fri 8

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

Lick It @ Powerhouse

Dance and play and have a taste of some sexy fun at Lick It. No fancy dates. No unrealistic expectations. Just some good old down right dirty fun. 1347 Folsom St., $5, 10pm-2am. www.powerhousebar.com

Sat 9

SF Fetish Flea Market @ SF Citadel

Whether you're curious about the local kink community or you're an experienced player looking for the best new toys, the Fetish Flea is for you. The Flea hosts a variety of toy makers, artists, businesses, upcyclers and more, right at the SF Citadel. 181 Eddy St., $5, 11am-5pm. www.sfcitadel.org

LDG Volunteer and Appreciation Party @ SF Catalyst

Join the men of San Francisco Leathermen's Discussion Group for their annual holiday volunteer and appreciation party. 1060 Folsom St., 2-4pm. www.sfldg.org

Sun 10

Holiday Men's Play Party @ Blow Buddies

The 15 Association offers one last chance to get on Santa's naughty list. Their annual holiday party is completely free, as the club's present to the community. 933 Harrison St., 12pm-4pm. www.the15sf.org

Mon 11

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 13

Naked and Golden Shower Buddies @ Blow Buddies

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

Thu 14

Tom of Finland Foundation Benefit and Cigar Social @ SF Oasis

Hosted by TOM's Man Terry Miller and featuring the launch of Tom of Finland Outstanding Red wine. Oasis invites you to an evening celebrating the world of Tom of Finland. Leather, gear and fetish wear encouraged; Roof deck hosted by Bay Area Cigar Buddies, onsite bootblack, official Tom of Finland Foundation curated visuals. Suggested Donation $5 (no one turned away for lack of funds). 298 11th St., 8pm. www.sfoasis.com

Fri 15

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 16

BLUF SF Holiday Party @ SF Eagle

Gear up and join the men of BLUF SF for their annual holiday Party. Pizza served to go with your beer or cocktail. 398 12th St., 6pm. www.bluf.com

BRÜT @ Monarch

BRÜT returns to SF for the final session of 2017. They were here for Folsom, and now they're back. This time they're at a new venue with 3 DJs, 2 floors, and lots of hot men. Gear you can dance in encouraged. See site for ticket details. 101 6th St., 10pm-4am. www.brutparty.com

Mon 18

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 22

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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