It's official: Up Your Alley and Folsom Street Fair will continue on as digital events for 2020, with plans underway to champion each happening's celebrated sex-positivity and sense of community — from behind a screen.
It doesn't take having a Ph.D. in epidemiology to realize that now's not an opportune time to plan large-scale physical gatherings, especially those where consensual groping is normal. In a shock to maybe no one, the 2020 Up Your Alley and Folsom Street Fair festivals in July and September, along with all "related events'' produced by Folsom Street Events (FSE), will shift to virtual happenings amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It's the "ethical" and "responsible" thing to do; no amount of sun-warmed leather is worth a potentially serious case of viral pneumonia.
If you have some spare funds, please consider donating to assist queer nightlife workers and members of the leather community who are heavily effected by this pandemic.— Folsom Street Events (@FolsomStEvents) March 27, 2020
SF Queer Nightlife Fund - https://t.co/jKIfa2Llcj
Bay Area Leather Lifeline Fund - https://t.co/WJ3UPflR4S
“Since we began sheltering in place in March, the [FSE team] has been considering options going forward, and we at one point even thought about canceling the events altogether," says FSE's Interim Executive Director Angel Adeyoha to SFist in a phone call about the recent changes made to the 37th Folsom Street Fair and 35th Up Your Alley celebrations. "Ultimately, we've chosen to hold Folsom Street Fair and Up Your Alley virtually, because we feel it is the ethical and the responsible choice."
FSE has long advocated for the health of LGBTQ+ community members across the planet, and this decision sits in line with that legacy.
"While we will miss the fairs this year, I commend Folsom Street Events for taking this proactive step to protect public safety,” said Maggie Weiland, executive director of the San Francisco Entertainment Commission, in a release.
Mayor Breed also expressed her appreciation of FSE's choice to hold these events online: "I want to thank Folsom Street Events for their careful consideration of the current situation, and for making a decision that is in the best interest of public health but still allows people to celebrate virtually."
Though the details are vague, most of the kinks are still being ironed out — yes, that pun was absolutely intended — and Adeyoha confirmed that FSE is striving to ensure the qualities of togetherness found at each event remain intact.
"People come to [these events] to be in community, to see and be seen," they add, noting that there will "definitely be music and the productions from regular DJs and entertainers" and ways attendees can engage with participating vendors.
Also: there's going to be no shortage of adult content and entertainment, either. "We’re going to find a digital partner to work with to allow for adult content to be streamed on the event," Ayndeou clarifies.
Annually, the two events draw hundreds of thousands of fairgoers from around the globe — with Folsom Street Fair being the largest leather festival of its kind in the world — to SoMa, generating more than $200M in local businesses and doubling as fundraising funnels for SF-based nonprofits.
Image: Wikimedia Commons