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Supes honor SoMa leather legacy

The western portion of San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood, home for decades to a sizeable leather and fetish community, will be recognized as the LGBTQ and Leather Cultural District following a unanimous vote by The City’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

The resolution, sponsored by Supervisors Jane Kim and Jeff Sheehy, is intended to commemorate sites connected to LQBTQ history and to preserve existing spaces for the community.

Kim said:

“This item came out of the desire to make sure this is more than just a historical district with name plaques and art and culture that would commemorate history.”

She added:

“We want to give them the tools to ensure that this could continue to be a living, breathing district where we could we support our small businesses that represent the leather community.”

The city’s SoMa neighborhood became a haven for LGBTQ leather and fetish enthusiasts around the 1970s and today remains home to several bars and businesses associated with that community.

Tens of thousands of people still flock to the ever-growing annual Folsom Street Fair, an event synonymous with leather and kink, as well as the annual Up Your Alley Fair.

The creation of SOMA’s LGBTQ and Leather Cultural District has been in the works for more than 10 years, Kim said.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Sheehy introduced a resolution to designate The City’s Castro neighborhood as an additional LGBTQ cultural district. He said:

“I see this as an additional move to really preserve the history and culture of the Castro neighborhood and highlight the structures and sites important to the history.”

If approved, the proposed LGBTQ Castro Cultural District would join other established cultural districts in the city, including the SOMA Pilipinas-Filipino Cultural Heritage District and the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District, as well as the new LGBTQ and Leather Cultural District.

Sheehy said:

“People come to San Francisco, to the Castro seeking safety, acceptance and a family they create on their own. … I hope to protect this enclave from the many challenges through the rapidly changing community, so the Castro could be the heart of the LGBTQ movement as it progresses well into the future.”

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