Bad news for leather folks who wanted
to get a blow job at this year's Up Your Alley Fair: The event
organizers and the police are teaming up to stamp your public lovin' out.
A controversy has been simmering in
the gay press and the city's leather community ever since the Bay Area Reporter wrote that two people
have lodged complaints with the Office of Citizens Complaints about the 14
police officers at last year's festival for not enforcing public indecency laws. The Up Your Alley Fair, which is considered by leather folks to be the more local, less commercial cousin to the giant Folsom Street Fair in the fall, will be held
on July 26 in SoMA's Dore Alley.
At a hearing on street closures in April, police demanded that the festival organizers come up with
a stricter security plan to ward off the public sex this year. They referenced photos
of last year's event posted anonymously on the Web site zombietime.com, depicting several men giving and receiving blow jobs, and another dude ejaculating from a
second-story window onto the crowd below. Many of the photos show
police officers within view of the action.
Festival Executive Director Demetri Moshoyannis said that he met with the
police on Tuesday, and he expects them to approve the updated security plan in
the coming days. "They were really impressed by the work we've already done,
and I think everyone felt really good about signing off on it."
Moshoyannis said he was blindsided at the April hearing when he was told their original security plan wasn't going to cut it this year. He tells us that he'd
intervened and stopped all the public sex he saw at the festival last year. Public
sex "sounds good in theory, but in practice, it's not terribly practical. We
have been enforcing these rules. What we're being asked to do is increase our effort."
This year, the festival will
have more signs declaring "no public sex" and clearly label the neon-jacketed
security men as "Security." (He said that people in the past confused them with
the clean-up crew. We presume it also helps to avoid confusion with ex-Village People.)
So why were the police ignoring all the oral sex? Police Lieutenant Nicole Greely, who oversees special events, said
that the cops hadn't warned the festival organizers prior to the day of the
festival: "We don't like to just enforce laws without an education plan
beforehand. At Bay to Breakers, if we'd just go out and tell everyone no kegs
and took everyone's kegs" it would make for bad public relations.
Moshoyannis said he's seen the
internet photos, and called the anonymous photographer "a homophobic
coward. If you want to criticize someone or somebody's community, at least
attach your name to it ... If you don't identify as part of my community, you
should be prepared for the expression of the leather community or don't come."
Yet even some members of the
community are complaining as well. Michael Hughes of
Francisco wrote a letter to the editor of the B.A.R. identifying
himself as "a Castro merchant for nearly five years, as well as a gay man who
contributes financially to the causes" that the fair supports. He wrote that he'd lodged complaints with the mayor's office, Supervisor Bevan Dufty, and Greely. "...when I first spoke with Lieutenant Greely, she told me that the
message from the mayor's office was that the police should practice tolerance
during these events, which really pissed me off because it sends a message that
the ones breaking the law should be held up to a different standard than our
denied ever saying that. "The mayor's office has never said anything to us." (The
mayor's office apparently isn't saying anything to us either, never having returned requests for comment Thursday.) Greely says that
the police aren't prudes, but they need to enforce the law in an increasingly
residential neighborhood. "Years ago, it was an industrial area with no one
around. Now there's a clinic, and low income housing, and regular housing."
"We're incredibly tolerant. We just
like to make the residents who live there happy."