So, after having lived in San Francisco for 5 years-I felt it was time to attend one of the city’s most renowned events-The Folsom Street Fair. Known as “The Granddaddy of all Leather Events”, it is held late September every year in San Francisco.
So, I put on my studded skirt and high boots and headed over with some friends. We were greeted by the ever-lovely and over-the-top Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence who grants to charities to projects who promote wellness, tolerance, and diversity within our communities. Then, we got into the crowd consisting of leather daddies from around the world, doms and their slaves and the occasional lost tourist.
First off, let me say that I love and support the gay culture and have been around the leather culture enough to not be freaked out by it. Folsom Street delivered all that it boasts-lots of hot men, hairy bears, proud queers and exhibitionists. But, what I’d expected (and hoped) to see were any signs of sensuality and freedom that I’m used to seeing on the Playa.
What I found disturbing were not the sexual acts in alleyways or 2nd story windows, but the participants being more concerned on who’s watching than who they are doing. Endless hot boys getting it on, craning their necks to make sure everyone could admire them, old, hairy men leering as they touch themselves. I can appreciate two hot men kissing, touching, and enjoying each other, but the sensual part is when they are ‘really’ connecting and making some sort of eye contact. Obviously, people weren’t there to find a husband or even boyfriend, but even in the setting of open sex-isn’t there room for real connection?
When I complained to my friend, he said, “What were you expecting- Cirque de Soleil?”.
The most interesting stage was for Kink.com where people from the audience were willingly brought on stage to be intricately tied and bound. A tattooed queer would present the audience with the choice of instruments -“Do you want me to use the whip, flogger or cane on these boys?” and in-between lashes stroke their hair or look them in the eye and demand a “Thank You”. Everyone seemed to be having a good time and there was lots of laughter and connection for their brief interaction. This was more of what I’d hoped for as an example of elevated sexuality and self expression.
Shortly after, I squeezed my way through the crowd and headed home, a little more educated, a little more questioning.
Ironically, I was sharing this story with a new friend last night over drinks and relayed the “Cirque du Soleil” comment to which she replied “I’m the curator for Jellyfish gallery on Folsom and we HAD aerial silk performers and contortionists during the fair! In fact, we were right by the Kink.com stage!”
So, maybe I’m not so off track, I just needed to search a little harder through crowd of adolescents pining for a quick thrill to find the real substance that exists at Folsom Street Fair.
But, that’s a little bit like life, isn’t it?