Hi everyone. My name is Race Bannon. I want to let you know how important queer nightlife is to me and why I believe helping struggling nightlife workers is such an important thing to do.
As evidenced by my new grey shelter in place beard, I’m an older guy. When I came out in 1972, it was queer nightlife that gave me an atmosphere of acceptance. It was queer nightlife that let me blossom into a confident man. It was queer nightlife that gave me a social circle that allowed me to be my true self.
The nightlife folks that embraced me early on fell into three groups. Leathermen, drag queens, and disco culture, what you would more likely today call dance culture.
I would spend my nights in leather bars among leathermen, and a few leather women, who never once judged me or dissuaded my young, fairly naïve kinkster identify or proclivities.
When I wasn’t in a leather bar you would likely find me in either a drag bar or dance club. Drag queens celebrated the joy in being gay and queer and it gave me hope I could do the same. I lived life as a leatherman, but drag queens opened their arms and doors and let me enjoy their world and warm social circle.
At the dance clubs I would dance to the latest music of the time among a wide cross section of LGBTQ friends, acquaintances and strangers and it always felt like a home, as did the leather and drag clubs.
Today, at the age of 66 I still rely on queer nightlife to be there. I dance among queer folks of all ages and types and we celebrate in that joy. I mingle with my fellow leather folks and kinksters and we share that unique journey together. I go to drag shows and tip the queens because they spew forth such joy and liberation with every performance.
I don’t know what would have happened had I not stumbled upon queer nightlife. I’m not sure what direction my life would have taken. But what I do know is that I would probably not be the confident, self-assured gay man I am today.
If you can give to the San Francisco Bay Area Queer Nightlife Fund, it will help a lot of queer nightlife workers who are really struggling right now. Go to http://www.sfqueernightlifefund.org and give what you can. Whatever you can. Let’s keep queer nightlife alive by helping those who create that nightlife. Thank you.