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Monday, August 1, 2016

Up Your Alley: #KinkThanksgiving Is the Alternative to Pride (NSFW)

Posted By on Mon, Aug 1, 2016 at 4:34 PM

WARNING: BUTTS
click to enlarge PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
Apple just announced that it'll be releasing a rainbow flag emoji this fall, as part of a suite of new id eograms that looks mostly like it's plugging in a few holes in the existing emoji-verse than anything else. (There's also a single-mom-with-son, for instance.)

click to enlarge PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane

It's nice, but it's also nice to think about queer culture outside of the context of reaching immediately for that rainbow. Because Pride happened in the shadow of the worst mass-shooting incident in American history, the somber tone wrestled the usual eye-rolling over drunk woo-girls to a draw this year. But it's really yesterday's Up Your Alley Fair — better known as Dore Alley — that represents alternative sexuality in San Francisco at its best.
click to enlarge PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane

If the massive, occasionally controversial, hotel-rooms-at-max-occupancy, line-Market-Street-with-leather-pride-flags Folsom Street Fair is #LeatherChristmas, then Dore is #KinkThanksgiving, a festival of weirdness over gayness, of debauchery over political righteousness (although it's good we have space for that, too). It's littler, more home-grown, and more manageable. 
click to enlarge PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
It's also nice to see the boundaries of queerness swell to include straight people, too: I'm always so delighted by the presence of heterosexual kinksters — or, to be more specific, people who may not necessarily be straight-identified, but who present in hetero arrangements of whatever sort, like a buxom dom leading her emasculated slave(s) around on a chain. The fact that straight people can add to an event's diversity is charming.
click to enlarge PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane

click to enlarge PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
As society evolves and it becomes possible to hold a middle-class job with a neck tattoo, and mainstream audiences can easily see even the most obscure subcultures of the kink universe, things change. A lot of gear and ritual arcana that were once heavily freighted with symbolism have now become purely ornamental — padlocked collars around men's necks, for instance. There's no shame in that; it's all in good fun.

You could also sense a certain randiness in the air this year. Maybe it was the fact that the fog quite didn't roar in like it usually does, just as inhibitions are lowest after an afternoon of outdoor drinking in a hot-blooded maelstrom of flesh. Or maybe it's the pervasiveness of PrEP that's brought back a certain sex-positivity after decades of balancing lust against the reality of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. (This is a value-neutral observation; obviously, HIV is still a public-health emergency. But an atmosphere of permissiveness is palpable.)

Yet there are still a lot of looky-lous who don't always ask before taking pictures of people in compromising positions, and who don't look like they're part of any particular tribe. Oh well.

click to enlarge PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
Yes, Pride is bland and corporate. You should still show up, though, if you ever smooched someone of the same gender or ever felt like a sexual misfit. Your presence acknowledges the people who fought for you to be queer without getting fired and evicted, and also keeps the entire thing from becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of Wells Fargo and Apple. And yes, Pride is often conspicuously full of very young, very straight-seeming people in rainbow knee-highs who treat it like any old excuse to go wild. You should still go, anyway, to avoid sending it into a death spiral.

But it's nice to have a day devoted to sexual exhibitionism that doesn't have quite the same angst attached to it: pride without Pride, and a bit of naughty fun besides.
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About The Author

Peter Lawrence Kane

Bio:
Peter Lawrence Kane is SF Weekly's Arts Editor. He has lived in San Francisco since 2008 and is two-thirds the way toward his goal of visiting all 59 national parks.

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