I was amazed at how many shirtless men were crammed into that single city block on the Sunday of Folsom Street East.
The kinky leather street festival that’s the little brother to the San Fran event, took place on Sunday afternoon along 28th street between 10th and 11th ave–the stretch of road that’s usually pretty quiet except for the people heading to the Eagle or Scores or one of the little art galleries. The mass of leather/kinky folks and enthusiasts and those curious to see them was a sea of beefy arms, hairy chests, tattoos, beards, harnesses and bare asses. I felt a constant vibration and hum of energy as my eyes skipped around all the men in gear.
This was my first Folsom East because last year I was not yet fully initiated into Leather and I was gradually wading out into the community that’s become my home. As I walked the street on Sunday with my group of leather boy friends and boyfriend, I was happy to see so many familiar faces in the crowd. I LOVE seeing so many guys out…I would love to see them at the Eagle on a Thursday…but seeing the crowds at Folsom just makes me feel like there’s vibrant and fun community flourishing despite some of the doom-and-gloom talk that goes on about “the dwindling leather community” (which always reminds me of Tolkien’s elves leaving Middle Earth).
Of course I do feel a tension in the air sometimes about the future. This year the Highline Park was opened and extended across 28th street so the hundreds (thousands?!) of non-leather people could look down at the mayhem of celebration and say things like, “oh my! those men are showing their arses!” Gentrification is coming to our little dark street. The other night on my way to the Eagle I saw straight couples with dogs and smiles exiting the Highline right there on 28th!
UPDATE: another point of tension about all this gentrification and threat to the Eagle–on Friday night, the 24th, just after the announcement of marriage equality in NY state and at the beginning of Pride weekend, 20 NYPD descended onto the Eagle for a “routine inspection” (raid) of the grounds. Coming a couple weeks after the opening of the trendy Highline Park I have to wonder if the pressure is mounting against our bar. Read more here.
Anyway, the successful turn out at FSE (biggest to date) juxtaposed by the gentrification crap lets me come to one conclusion: No matter what happens to the spaces, the people and the desires will still flourish…we’ll just possibly need new spaces…