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The once Gay Event, a celebration of sexual liberation and sexual expression - Folsom Street - was this weekend, and I attended.  I was shocked at how gentrified the event had become, there were more Male/Female couple walking around, than leather clad Gay Men! I was horrified at how it was being used as a marketing platform for everything and anything, from Cell phones to mainstream TV channels!

Gone were the Gay and Lesbian Leather Pride and B&D / S&M, sexually liberating oriented booths to be replaced with marketing booth from everything, and anything vanilla and everyday, such as 6pm News Shows and a celebration of the latest offerings in Flatware!  About the most sexually charged booth I saw was a Huge Display by Kink.Com, and very mainstream and not very underground website catering to the "Bridge and Toll" crowd.

Case in point, one lube company was NOT throwing out samples of their product, (as they did in years past) with condoms, promoting AIDS awareness and safe sexual expression, NO! Instead of taking this opportunity to educate the community on the ever increasing AIDS stats in the city, they were throwing out EMPTY BOTTLES, with instruction on how to order their product online!


This was truly and expression of what Folsom had become, an empty event, about marketing to the community, a faceless, soulless community, without substance!

BANKSY and FAIRY make a statement ...

Their were some in the crowd still trying to use the event to promote awareness to their causes, prevalent on the walls around the event were "Banksy" and "Shepard Fairy" posters and paste ups, making a point about the gentrification of this once Gay Celebration of Sexuality.






There were some in the crowd, to be fair, that WERE trying to educate the Bridge and Toll crowd, (Heterosexuals from the East Bay), as to blatant attacks on sexual expression taking place in our community.  Case in point were the human billboards trying to draw attention to Prop 35, an attack on sex workers!

Prop 35 mandates a long prision sentence for sex workers, and forces them to register as sex offenders, putting sex workers, who partake in consensual sexual expression, in the same category as predatory pedophiles that  prey on the powerless through sexual conquest! Read about Prop 35 here:


While this is a sexually charged issue, it is hardly Gay Oriented, since the vast majority of sex work is heterosexual!

It seems that gone are the days of Folsom Street Fair as a Sexually Charge celebration of a Gay Community sub-culture, the Bondage and Leather Community, and for this I weep!

10:17 PM PT: I just want to add that I am as upset about what was missing from the Folsom Street Fair as what I saw there.  With AIDS infections in the city on the Rise why wasn't there a Department of Health Booth handing out free condoms and lube and educating about the dangers of Barebacking?  Where was the AIDS Foundations Booth, or what about CUAV to educate about the difference between consensuality and Domestic Violence, where was the Stop AIDS Project and Meth Man to educate about  rampant Crystal Meth abuse among Gay Men. Did I miss the The Castro Country Club booth selling me some alternative to all the Beer Booths? And where were the Gay 12-steppers to spread the word that Sober Sex is Safer sex, or the Department of Health to warn me about impaired judgement in the reality of AIDS? Where were the community based organization marketing their messages to me, have we really become that jaded?  Why didn't any of the Bars I went into have free condoms and lubes on the Bar like they used to?  Are we hiding our heads in the sand and just not facing the fact that AIDS infection rates are are up, especially in the younger crowd?  Have we as a community given up on trying to save our brothers and sisters?  Are NBC, Bacardi and T-Mobile really the only ones with a message for me now days?

Where were the Gay and Lesbian Non-Profits? And why were there so many darn Beer booths, are all Gay and lesbians alcoholics in the new millenium, and is drinking REALLY what the Gay Culture has become?  Where were the Gay Positive, and Sex Positive messages?  With suicide rates UP among Gay Youth why was no one outreaching and letting people that Gay is OK?  With homelessness rate up among Gay Youth, why was no one out their screaming that it is SICK that there are only some 20-something shelter beds for Gay Youth in the city.

With Gay Bashing on the rise in the city, and Hate Crime rates up, why was no one out there trying to educate and inform? Don't we as a community care about these realities any more?  Do I really have to accept that my diverse community celebrations have become about getting me to "buy, buy, buy" and less about me feeling good about who I am as a person, and coming together as a community to remind ourselves that we are not alone, we are one!

Nope, I didn't buy that Bud Light with the rainbow label, but I am more ashamed that our celebration of our diversity as a community has become more about drinking and buying, and less about Sex Positive and gay Positive messages!

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (6+ / 0-)

    - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

    by l3m0n on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 04:10:32 PM PDT

  •  I must confess that my experience was different (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lotac, highacidity, kurt, synductive99

    from yours. Yes there were heterosexual couples at the fair but they were noticeable because they stood out. If the proportion of gay to straight has decreased over the years, I would say it's gone from 99-1 to 95-5. And I would not presume that members of a male-female couple strolling hand-in-hand this afternoon didn't leave the fair and head home to a partner of their own sex. We can only see a snapshot; we don't know what the people who attend the event are doing when they depart; we can't even necessarily presume that the company we see people in defines who they are when they are not in our sight.

    While I have to admit that I find the commercialization of community events like Gay Pride and Folsom to be jarring at times, it seems to me that this is the price we pay for acceptance. We cannot fight to overcome our status as an outlawed minority and then complain when we are no longer outlawed.

    Our movement (well this is my own opinion of course but I stand by it anyway) has always been based on the idea that we should all be free to be who we are. It's easy to have false assumptions as to what the outcome of our liberation will be. Truly embracing that means we must be open to the idea that some will chose, based on that freedom, to live very conventional, mainstream lives. At the same time however, the very definition of "conventional" will have been simultaneously broadened.

    •  Today was my first Folsom (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      And of course it is commercial, as all such events are nowadays. Gay men vastly outnumbered straight men and women, from my observation. It was about what I expected, and by the time we left, it was nearly impossible to move through the sea of humanity. We enjoyed the 4 hours or so we spent there.

      "Kiss my ass, this is a Holy site" - a RomneyBot 2012 media expert, addressing the media

      by lotac on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 07:08:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  As I said before I guess I was just to early ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        synductive99, blueoasis

        It certainly did not take me 4 hours to make the round down Folsom from 5th Street, (where my hotel sits) to 11th and Back.  I went to hear a couple of Garage Bands I enjoy, and they were on early ... and it was not all that crowded, though the weather was FANTASTIC.  Guess me and the Bridge and Toll folks need to reset our Timexs to Gay Central Time (LOL)

        Next year I will certainly plan on going later in teh day though, and see if it is any different.  Here's to hoping that the Castro Street Fair sil has a little "rainbow" left in it.

        - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

        by l3m0n on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 09:06:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Castro Street Fair is quite subdued (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          and a good deal smaller. It began mainly as a venue for neighborhood merchants and artists so in those terms it was always somewhat commercial, though homegrown. You will probably see more booths featuring LGBT non-profits. And there will definitely be more than a bit of rainbow.

          And yes, you did arrive too early. Best bet at both fairs is to arrive at between 1 and 2 p.m. and stay until 4 or 5. Because alcohol is permitted, it can get a later in the day. Some may find this a turn-on, I personally don't (though in truth people seemed to be reasonably restrained today).

    •  Hum, guess I went to early ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I went before noon, and there were few Gay couple walking, my guess ... the Gays slept in?

      I certainly hope you are wrong about the cost of acceptance being that we allow corporate America to use all of our "community" events as Marketing platforms for yet more products that we can do without!

      After the fair I walked to the Apple Store to see "how" they were marketing the new Iphone 5, when I asked an Apple Employee what the new "compelling" feature of the Iphone 5 was that I just couldn't live without, he shrugged and looked aghast.

      I was really dismayed that there were not more Gay Sex booths, shocked in fact that Grindr, and MaleForce and Poz Magazine did not have Booths. sure I can understand the clothing, I even get the Candles, but the Flatware at FOLSOM, do spoons really have a place in Sex Play now, where have I been?

      - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

      by l3m0n on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 09:01:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's possible you arrived before everything was (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        set up. While public nudity is legal, public sex is not--even at Folsom. In fact the fair has been threatened with closure more than once because of people carrying on in the street, so there are monitors there to tell people to break it up.

        As for gay hookup sites having representation, I certainly saw plenty of those in evidence. I don't know about today; while Grindr didn't have a booth there, Scruff had one at the Dore Alley Fair as did Mister. Not familiar with Male Force; Poz magazine has not, to my knowledge, had booths at any SF street fair.

        Flatware? That one I must have missed somehow. I guess there is a fetish for everyone these days.

  •  9x6 Lubes and our commitment to the community (0+ / 0-)

    Our company Product54 gave out 30000 lube samples this past weekend and close to 4 barrels of lube.    Just over a year old, we have gained popularity around the world as one of the few hypo-allergenic and stain free lubes in production and we are a San Francisco based corporation.

    Since day one we have donated $1.00 of every sales of our 8oz, 16 oz, 32 oz and Gallon size bottles sold to several local organizations. In addition partnering with Stop the Violence we have given thousands of bottles of lube supplied in their packets regarding safe sex and being safe in SF.   We have also sponsored over 100 events around the country that benefit a wide variety of projects for gay and other community members.

    As equally as important we have developed a safe product and had numerous fans  of all sexual orientations approach us thanking us for making our lube one that they can use without having worry about having a reaction and improving their sex lives.

    We did in fact give out empty bottles so then could be filled at one of the 5 lube stations at both 9x6 and also the Recon Booth.  We apologize if you did not get that message as when someone had their bottle filled or they filled their bottle we could give them the 10 second overview of that our product is safe with latex products.

    The 9x6 cabinet was filled with a few thousand condoms  that people could have and many took handfuls or pocket fulls as they also filled up 16 fl oz water bottles of 9x6.

    I am proud that we have given actual funds back to the community since day one.  We have supported all the 2012 Folsom Street Events,  2011 and 2012 Stop the Violence with over $10,000 in samples and prizes for their events,  we are a corporate sponsor of  2013 Bare Chest Calendar, a 2012 Leather Alliance Sponsor , in 2011  donated sales proceeds to Project Open Hand and Helping Hands Law Project, and numerous others in San Francisco and other communities.

    By giving out samples we want people to experience our product and hope they will purchase allowing us to continue our mission of not corporate greed, but social responsibility.

    My partner and I also started a 501c3 a few years ago that builds learning centers in Africa for children affected by HIV so we are driven to be successful in many ways to help others.  See the reason we started the company was that I am highly sensitive to unprocessed chemicals and now outliving my original terminal disease by a year.   One day we woke up, started the day and life happened.   Since then we have looked for the good that could come of it and one of them was 9x6 Pure Silicone Lube.   We understand the need to help and the only way we can do that is be the best we can be within reasons.  Yes we have the goal to make our company successful and bring jobs to the community and help the community by providing a safe product and donate to programs that give direct benefits back to the community.  Hopefully we will prove our products are worth of being one of the best in the world.

    Thank You

    Mike Fell and Jack Miller

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