San Francisco approves gay cultural district in historic neighbourhood
The South Of Market area was once a refuge for gay people but is facing increasing gentrification.
San Francisco authorities have unanimously approved a resolution authorising a gay and leather cultural district in the city’s South of Market neighbourhood.
Supervisor Jane Kim said before the vote on Tuesday that legislation to designate a cultural district has been more than a decade in the making.
It will give the cultural district negotiating rights in future development and access to public money in an area which is being gentrified but which historically provided sanctuary to gay people.
The South of Market neighbourhood remains home to gay and kink bars and the popular Folsom Street Fair, which draws thousands of people every year to celebrate “leather sexuality”.
San Francisco, birthplace of the rainbow gay pride flag, has long welcomed sexual and other minorities.
It has several neighbourhoods significant to LGBTQ history, including the Castro and Tenderloin, where transgender women fed up with police raids rioted in 1966.
With plenty of tiny leather briefs and bare chests, studded dog collars and whips, the fair is an annual ode to celebrating the San Francisco values of free speech and sexual freedom.
But the scene today is nothing like the bustle in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when more than 50 businesses catered to the leather culture, said Bob Goldfarb, chairman of a community group that supports the legislation.
“It was a lot easier to run into people on the street, if you will, and it had sort of a neighbourhood feel even though not a lot of people lived in the area,” he said.
“This is an opportunity for us to revitalise the area.”