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San Francisco Folsom Street Fair 2005

By Casey Conroy

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San Francisco is renowned for many things and not least among them is diversity.  How does diversity manifest itself?  In San Francisco, on any given day, there are scores of opportunities to experience a culture, a lifestyle, a movement, a philosophy, a debate' .the list goes on and on.

At the Folsom Fair girls just wanna have fun

What makes this City so special is that its residents do not balk or back away at what is unfamiliar. We embrace the differences, feed on the fascination, and thrive on the color palette that combined make San Francisco residents unique.
 

Sex education is always a key element

The Folsom Street Fair is unlike any other neighborhood celebration in the world.  The event's showcases the Leather community and the lifestyles that revolve around it.  OK I admit I'll dip my toes in just about anything but my personal experience with leather is limited to the motorcycle jacket that I wore constantly in the 80s and a leather couch I actually stuck to on a hot summer evening.  I must say that I did feel a bit macho when I wore my shiny, black jacket.  However now in retrospect I realize that even Michael Jackson was wearing leather then' so how masculine in fact did I look?  Let's not go there' .

Honestly I personally don't have the skills required to live a lifestyle where leather is central to my day to day.  Leather is expensive and I'm cheap, requires a lot of accessorizing and I'm a t-shirt jeans kinda guy, and the cleaning bills must be gargantuan.  I am not qualified to live a leather life

Creative costumes dominate the Fair



Still I will admit I find there is an attractive, mysterious element to the leather community.  I perceive them as night people wafting in and out of dark rooms and dimly lit streets men with chaps and sunglasses, women with straight, shiny black hair and whips' ..I stylize them to the point where they are almost vampires.  Intellectually I know like any other community there is a wide swath of personality and expression that build it' .. but I am one who romanticizes.

Young man showing off his best asset!

It is odd however to see full, hard core leather in all it's glory in the mid day sun.  It doesn't seem right like finding your parents' contraceptives.   It's good but not exactly right.  The fair is always is blessed with the best weather of the year warm, bright, and beautiful.  Taking in all these leather bound hunks and beauties is' well, hot.  More than this though the combination of sun, thousands of people - both voyeurs and exhibitionists combined with live music, beer, and great food makes this one of the most festive events of the year.

Sun, fun, and plenty of laughter


 
Gift shopping at the Folsom Street Fair is hysterically funny.  There are things for sale here you won't find anywhere else I don't think some of them are LEGAL in some Midwest states!  But if you're looking the perfect gift for that someone special how about a nice barbed whip?  Or perhaps leather face mask for those movie nights out?  What about a hanging leather harness for those lazy days in the dungeon?
 
As the day ends I make eye contact with good looking man who entirely nude except for a mask and construction boots.  It's then I realize that I am not the only voyeur here' . I am, like the thousands around me, experiencing the Folsom Street Fair because the ambassadors of the leather community - as diverse as any group have given me permission to view a slice of their world.  In return, they get the thrill of showing off their best assets to the curious masses. 
As the sun and beer embrace me I feel a moment of incredible good fortune to be here at this moment.  A world class city has closed down 10 city blocks on a beautiful day to give me the opportunity to exchange a lifestyle handshake I could not have anywhere else in the world.  This is diversity.  And THAT is cool.



Published on Dec 31, 1969

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