The Legendary Queer Street Fair
The origins of San Francisco’s legendary Folsom Street Fair may be much different than you think.
When someone talks about Folsom Street Fair in 2015, the leather and fetish elements of the historic outdoor celebration of sexual diversity are likely what come to mind. However, this event is also rooted in a very specific issue that queers and other marginalized groups have dealt with for decades: gentrification.
“Folsom Forever” is a new film from director Mike Skiff that takes a look at the historic legacy of Folsom Street Fair and how this festival was birthed from San Francisco’s narrative of gentrification surrounding the HIV/AIDs panic.
“If you’ve attended the Folsom Street Fair in the last 30 of its 40 years, it would seem this outdoor kinky celebration has always been a Leather-oriented event,” Skiff told The Huffington Post. “Making this film gave me the opportunity to, among things, correct that misconception. The fair was actually born in ’84 out of South of Market neighborhood’s need for survival, as developers sought to bulldoze buildings and sex businesses — like the bathhouses — being closed by the city in misguided AIDS hysteria. What Folsom Street Fair always has been is an expression of human rights, be it the right to low-cost housing or to willingly be flogged without fear of arrest.”
Skiff also added that the 1970s in San Francisco was a very specific time — one in which members of the LGBT community were given the space to explore the spectrum of their sexuality and queerness.
“In the 1970s, Folsom Street was the West Coast’s mecca for anyone on their leather journey in life — myself included,” Skiff continued. “‘Folsom Forever’ allowed me to highlight the historical importance of the queer SOMA neighborhood, chronicle the evolution of the fair, and explore why the Folsom Street Fair couldn’t have got started anywhere else but San Francisco.”
Breaking Glass Pictures will release “Folsom Forever” on June 9 on DVD and VOD (iTunes, Amazon Instant, Google Play, Xbox). Check out the trailer above.