The following came from a reader in a Sept. 26 email.

September in San Francisco (dubbed The Gay Rome by USF student Julie Henderson at a 2007 seminar at Most Holy Redeemer Church) is dominated by the Folsom Street Fair. As fair organizers boast, “Only in San Francisco will you see leather pride banners lining the grand thoroughfare of Market Street…” and it is true:  the red, black and blue flags of the homosexual leather subculture are on every Market Street lamppost.

The fair’s webpage offers this blurb for the event:  “With nearly 400,000 of your closest kinky friends spread out over 13 city blocks of adult entertainment, this is an ‘only in San Francisco’ experience to be sure… Located on historic Folsom Street (from 7th to 12th Streets — and all streets in between), leather and fetish players from all over the world converge. With over 200 exhibitor booths selling fetish gear and toys, a massive live stage with top-name indie bands, two huge dance areas spinning underground dance, public play stations, and an enhanced erotic artists’ area, you will never want to leave. There’s more eye candy than you can shake your c–k at – yes, you can still be naked, so there’s no need to fret.”

The last sentence refers to a recent law in San Francisco, which banned public nudity, but exempted certain gatherings such as the fair. A sample of the legal activities performed at the fair include “live, choreographed hook suspensions, where people will be suspended through hooks in their backs and other parts of their bodies” and “demonstration stations where people can find basic information about whipping and other types of BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism).” But these kinds of legal albeit disgusting activities, which fair organizers are willing to publicly describe, and which will make it into the pages of the San Francisco Chronicle, are just the tip of the iceberg as any online search will show.

Since the Chronicle will host a booth at the fair, it’s a safe bet they know what is going on, and choose not to report it. Another exhibitor at the fair is the Mission Neighborhood Health Center. CalCatholic readers may remember the Mission Neighborhood Health Center from our 2009 article “SF Archdiocesan Partner Funds Emergency Contraception.” The article revealed that the San Francisco Organizing Project, a group with which the archdiocese was then (and still is) partnered, had “won $200,000 for Mission Neighborhood Health Center” and further revealed that the center’s teen clinic offered “emergency contraception” to girls aged 12-21. Another exhibitor at the fair is Planned Parenthood Shasta Pacific.

This year’s fair coincides with pressure being exerted on the city’s Department of Public Health to reopen homosexual bathhouses, although the term “reopen” is inexact. The bathhouses have never closed, but since the dark days of the AIDS epidemic before the onset of antiviral drugs, the health department had ordered that private rooms in the clubs must remove their doors. This apparently allowed club staff to monitor the behavior of those inside, and ensure they were practicing “safe” sodomy.

But, according to Seth Hemmelgarn, author of an August 8 article in the homosexualist Bay Area Reporter,  “Virtually all of the clubs closed rather than comply with the rules…” Hemmelgarn continued, “The decision on whether to allow private rooms – which is what makes a bathhouse a bathhouse for many gays – rests with Health Director Barbara Garcia.”