Monday, September 29, 2008


During last year's Folsom Street Fair, I posted, on September 28, 2007, the following entitled, "Playing Into The Hands Of The Homophobes" regarding what I thought then as now was a counterproductive phenomenon that our enemies would use against us. This is a comment I made regarding that post:

"The last thing we want to do is enable the oppressor to be able to play the 'victim' who has 'been right all along' in casting Gay people as 'Godless,' and 'hedonistic.' We are out to help convince those on the fence on this issue of full equality that being Gay is just as viable as is being Straight, and to have this kind of 'in your face' poster and what it represents merely plays right into the hands of the homophobes."

Part of that post reads as follows:

"For countless generations, Gays have been called all sorts of vile names, from outright hedonists, to Godless people, to immoral, to degenerates. And these terms uttered with regularity have helped retard the acquisition of civil rights for LGBT people.

"Now, this display serves to play into the hands of our enemies who can garner not only more publicity for their cause in fighting against the acquisition of full and equal civil and sacramental rights for LGBT people, but makes the work to acquire those rights that much more difficult, as it serves to confirm in the minds of many that all the negative things they have been hearing about Gay people might well be true.

"If I were asked how best to sabotage the possibility of LGBT people acquiring full and equal civil rights, I couldn't come up with anything better than a public display of this type that both confirms all the negative stereotypes placed on LGBT people by homophobes, but says, in effect, to all those who are Christians (and all other religious people), up yours!'"

Yesterday, the following article entitled, , "Folsom Street Furor - Nancy Pelosi, Gavin Newsom Under Attack by Anti-Gay Groups" appeared that supports my proposition that such a spectacle, and spectacles like them, despite all rationalizations to the contrary, can do nothing but hurt the cause for civil rights for LGBT people and for same-sex marriage in both California and elsewhere.

That article begins as follows:

"San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair, the self-proclaimed 'granddaddy of all leather events,' always attracts a good deal of attention from anti-gay forces, but this year that attention has escalated as some of groups attempt to use the event to promote passage of California's anti-gay marriage Proposition 8...."

At a time when the voters of California are going to vote on Proposition 8 during this November's election, we cannot afford to have a repetition of such a spectacle!

From what I've read, the latest polls show that most people in California are not in favor of writing discrimination into California's Constitution. However, I expect that with the well-organized and coordinated "evangelical" movement now backing the McCain/Palin ticket, we can expect many Reactionaries coming to the polls to both vote for that ticket and, at the same time, voting for the mean-spirited and discriminatory Proposition 8.

If we're really trying to win the hearts and minds of people (And I really doubt that many, if not most, of those who affirm such an image as conveyed at the Folsom Street Fair last year really do have that as a goal.), a repeat of such a spectacle as occurred last year can only serve to further embolden homophobes and serve as a further rebuke to potential Straight allies!

Save for self-serving hedonistic and cathartic displays, the images evinced by the Folsom Street Fair last year serve absolutely no useful purpose! And if the participants deliberately seek to do their best to sabotage our hoped for failure of Proposition 8, they couldn't be doing a better job!

As I wrote in my September 28th post last year:

"People who engage in such public behavior that depicts an 'in your face,' attitude, along with their confirming the negative stereotypes that have long helped consign LGBT people to an underclass, self-loathing, subterranean underground within society, show me that they really don't want to be integrated as mature and fully participating citizens in society with all the rights that accrue to non-LGBT people!"

Such consignment to an underclass may be wanted by many, if not most, of the participants, but it must be acknowledged that such a public display can do nothing but sabotage the civil rights and well-being of countless LGBT people and same-sex couples, and that makes such participants witting or unwitting allies of those who have historically and continue to oppress LGBT people!
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Anonymous said...

Jerry, Jerry, Jerry....

So what you're saying is: Don't flaunt it; Be stoic.

And you and Don wonder why all the backlash.

Jerry Maneker said...

Nelson, you don't seem to get it or want to get it! At a time when Proposition 8 in California is going to the voters, why would anyone want to stick a finger in the eye of potential allies who are going to vote on that measure and, eventually, on measures like it in the rest of the U.S? All you do is to play into the hands of the homophobes who accuse LGBT people of the very things you are supporting. At the very least, it's bad public relations, and at its worst, it's being an ally of the very people who oppress LGBT people!

Anonymous said...

It's you and those other guys who are making Folsom into an issue, not me.

I don't see you helping when people attack me and bring up stuff from the past so don't even go there.

The Folsom Street Fair last year, like this year, is a private event which raised thousands of dollars, with the proceeds going to various organizations.

While I'm not into the BSDM thing and dressing up in leather, if some guy showing his ass and cock translates to another person donating thousands of dollars to keep an AIDS clinic or soup kitchen open, so be it.

Jerry Maneker said...

But Folsom is an issue, Nelson, as the homophobes use that and its images to try to convince those on the fence to come over to their side and vote against "those Gay perverts who are ruining this country with their immorality."

Clearly, there are better, less offensive ways of raising money for charities than by feeding into, and seeming to justify, albeit falsely, the stereotypes that the homophobes have been purveying for generations.

The "religious" and secular homophobes of the world love those events, as it feeds their coffers and enables them to further articulate their hate against LGBT people; provides seeming "justification" for viewing LGBT people as "deviants," "outsiders," "abnormal hedonists," who are "a threat to our children and our country."

Homophobes will never change, no matter what images of Gay people are projected. However, if one is really concerned with acquiring full and equal LGBT civil rights, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that such events can do nothing but retard that day when those rights are finally won, and won despite the hedonistic exhibitions that fulfill all the negative stereotypes that have hitherto prevented same-sex marriage and all other Gay rights.

As I said before, if those who engage in the Folsom Street Fair deliberately decided to prevent Proposition 8 in California from failing; deliberately decided to prevent the acquisition of full and equal civil rights for LGBT people; deliberately decided to be allies of strident homophobes; deliberately decided to offend potential Straight allies; deliberately decided to offend LGBT people who do want and deserve full and equal civil rights, they couldn't be doing a better job!

Anonymous said...

Your recommendation, Jerry, is for the LGBT community to go underground again until it's safe again.


You sound/write no different than those ex-gays and anti-gays who are now blaming the financial crisis on liberals and the lgbt.

We're not the problem, it's you.

Jerry Maneker said...

Nelson: If you think that's what I said, meant, or in any way what my post was about, you missed the whole point!


Jerry, you're right to perceive that the organizers of the Folsom Street Fair don't care about LGBT equality. They don't care that their display of bizarre S & M imagery feeds into harmful stereotypes about Gay people and fires up the fundie propaganda machine. On the contrary, they relish outsider status. They live for a chance to poke their fingers in the eye of the Religious Right.

They're downright gleeful at the prospect of conservative church people watching videos of their Fair and gasping in horror at bare body parts and sex toys; believe me, they get a huge kick out of that! The fundies and the perverts really do stroke each other: One group gets its propaganda, and the other group gets its thrill . . . and there's some overlap there, too. Don't bother asking either group to listen to reason. It's a waste of time.

Instead, draw a distinction: Make it clear as often as you can that the leather/S & M lifestyle is NOT synonymous with Gay identity, even though a significant number of Gay men are part of that scene. Most S & M devotees are heterosexual, and that has always been the case. It's time to explode this myth, inspired by the adult film industry, that fetish worship and rough sex are an inherent part of "Gay culture".

As we draw one distinction, we must stop drawing another: Now that we know there are Gay and Straight distortion peddlers who promote marginalizing images of Gay people, we should regard all of them as enemies of the equality struggle. Isn't that what you're saying here in regard to the Folsom crowd?

As I've told you privately, I personally find their Street Fair repugnant, but I do recognize their right to mount it. What I don't recognize as their right is advertising and promoting it as a Gay community event! To the extent that they do that, they are distortion peddlers and saboteurs of the Gay Rights movement. That's legitimate reason to denounce them, and if some people choose to get their knickers in a twist over that, too damn bad!

Jerry Maneker said...

Thanks Don Charles. "Now that we know there are Gay and Straight distortion peddlers who promote marginalizing images of Gay people, we should regard all of them as enemies of the equality struggle. Isn't that what you're saying here in regard to the Folsom crowd? "

Absolutely! And I say the same thing about not only those who participate in such spectacles as the Folsom Street Fair, but all those who affirm such public events.

As far as I'm concerned, they do as much to retard civil rights for LGBT people as the most virulent homophobes can do! In reality, they're allies with each other, and too many are too dense and/or self-absorbed to know it!