Main | Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Folsom Street East: Sunday, June 20th

New York City's annual leather street festival, Folsom Street East, is next Sunday, June 20th.
Inspired by San Francisco's legendary Folsom Street Fair, FSE was founded in 1997 by former Gay Male S/M Activists (GMSMA) chair John Weis and a cohort of similarly-minded New York City leathermen. “I thought that having a fun day in the sun for the SM/leather community celebrating our diversity would go a long way in helping dispel myths and stereotypes,” said Weis. “We saw FSE as important opportunity for visibility, outreach and activism. A key part of that is taking a proud stand -- outside in the sunshine – embracing and celebrating sexual diversity.”

Since that first year, FSE has featured live music and performance art, bootblacks, barbers, health and community information, and vendors selling everything from cigars to harnesses to handmade floggers. From a handful of vendor tables and a few hundred attendees that first year, FSE has grown exponentially: the 2009 event drew over 50 vendors and nearly 10,000 leather and fetish-clad revelers over the course of the afternoon. FSE is also an opportunity for the community to flex some philanthropic muscle as well. The $10 suggested donation benefits a number of charities and to date, FSE has donated over $210,000 to a wide array of non-profit organizations, including this year’s beneficiaries: the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center, the New York City Anti-Violence Project, and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF).
You might recall that last year Porno Pete LaBarbera sent a hidden camera crew to the fair and posted photos and videos of unsuspecting attendees. He also made the typically ridiculous claim that "hundreds of fully nude men" roamed Chelsea's West 28th street engaging in "sadistic homosexual" acts in "violation of New York City's lewdness laws." But as you can see from the photo below, it was a cool and overcast day and hardly anybody so much as doffed their shirt, much less walked around naked. Let's hope for warmer weather this year!

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