According to the Folsom Street Fair website, on Sunday, September 29, 2019 two-hundred eclectic exhibitor booths displaying fetish gear, toys, live electronic and alternative acts, as well as live BDSM demos and performances will once again gather on thirteen city blocks of San Francisco’s Folsom Street.
The Folsom Street Fair, a City of San Francisco staple, will once again be aflutter with what the Fair website approximates to be 250,000 Fetish enthusiasts. At Folsom, all identities are welcomed;, however, a space called The Playground that only admits and centers “women of every kind and all trans and non-binary folks” will be provided.
Operating from 11 AM to 6 PM, entrance is free but there is an option for event-goers to donate ten dollars to receive a sticker that provides two dollars off every drink bought at the fair.
Folsom’s mission is to “create world-class leather and fetish events that unite the adult alternative lifestyle community with safe venues for self-expression and exciting entertainment.”
Founded in 1984 under the guidance of noted San Francisco LGBT and community activists Michael Valerio and Kathleen Connel, Folsom has been from its inception an event that has sought to support the local South of Market (SOMA) community in addition to the LGBT and Leather community at large.
Now, thirty-five years later, Folsom Street Fair has donated nearly 7 million dollars since its first run in 1984 and has become the largest leather event in the world. In 2019 major beneficiaries will include AIDS Legal Referral Panel, Berkeley Free Clinic, Castro Country Club, The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and more.
The Leather community can mean a full spectrum of things to a multitude of people. However, it is intimately entwined with the LGBT+ community. As stated in a Them article entitled Why Kink, BDSM, and Leather Should Be Included at Pride, “kink, leather, and BDSM aren’t exclusively about sex; to a large extent, they’re about community building.”
Born out of the Post-World War II 1950s, the modern American LGBT Leather community’s roots were laid through gay bike clubs that by their very nature eschewed the “normative assimilation” of the post-war era. These groups followed community rules and regulations and would come to be known as the “Old Guard” of the Leather community. At the dawn of the AIDS crisis Leatherfolk were at the forefront of caring, raising awareness, and raising funds for ailing LGBT+ folks to such an extent that in 2015 the Leather community was recognized by the City of San Francisco for their efforts in advocating safer sex.
It is good to keep in mind that the crowds will likely be thick and slow to navigate through, and as always, nudity will be permissible so there will be many people in various states of undress. If the aforementioned Folsom Street Fair details appeal to you, Folsom is a wonderful place to dress up (or down) as much as you want and spend a Sunday afternoon basking in San Francisco’s Queer history, and if you want to, have some decadently kinky fun.