Luxury Condos Could Threaten Leather & LGBTQ Community In San Francisco

This past weekend, over 250,000 leather and kink enthusiasts converged on San Francisco’s South of Market (SoMA) district to enjoy the annual Folsom Street Fair.

The eagerly-awaited festival hosts hundreds of exhibitor booth for fetish gear and toys as well as a MainStage featuring top-name indie, electronic and alternative acts plus a huge dance floor.

And yes, nudity is allowed.



Begun in 1984, the FSF capitalizes on the adult-themed interest in BDSM to raise money for charity and celebrates the spirit of SoMA.

But that original fair wasn’t a leather event, says Gayle Rubin, a leather historian and anthropology professor who was there.

According to LGBTQ website them, Rubin shares that back in 1984 the point of Folsom was protesting redevelopment in the neighborhood.

And as housing and real estate prices continue to soar in the Bay City today, gentrification efforts in SoMA have become an even bigger threat to SoMA today.

For instance, back in the 1980s there were over three dozen leather bars, bondage gear stores and sex clubs. Now, only a handful exist thanks to new luxury condominium buildings and urban renewal.




Folsom Street Fair 2018 With @eddie_a1971 and @muscledshaman . #DaddyWolf #folsomsf #folsomstreetfair

A post shared by Thiago Oliveira (@thiagodj1) on


This past May, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors established the LGBTQ and Leather District as a cultural district in SoMA.

The goal of the district is to "honor and commemorate the people, places and institutions that gave South of Market its distinctive culture and appeal, and would also help protect the remaining businesses and spaces, and sustain the people who live, work and recreate there."

But no language exists in the ordinance in regards to long-term resources to stopping further commercial and housing displacement.

For instance, a new 410-unit building of one-bedroom rentals recently opened with rents starting at $3,600 a month. If you go by the “one-third” rule when considering how much of your annual income should be spent on housing, that comes out to an annual income of $130,000.

Now, there are a whole lot of people who will not be able to afford those units. And there are more higher-income housing projects in SoMA on the way.

One project called “Eagle Plaza” aims to turn the block next to the Eagle Bar (a cornerstone of the leather community) in to a “family-friendly,” “G-rated” area says one urban planner, Brooke Ray Rivera of PlaceLab.

A group of supporters of Eagle Plaza, “Friends of Eagle Plaza,” advocates for promoting an “Eyes on the Plaza” strategy to avoid "unhealthy behaviors in public space.”

Who gets to determine what "unhealthy behaviors" are?

As these projects proliferate, low-income residents businesses are forced out.

Many SoMA activists say the government has failed to invest in affordable lower income housing for the city’s residents.

In an attempt to address housing issues in San Francisco and across California, ballot initiative Prop. 10 aims to keep landlords from massively increasing rent costs each year.

And local initiative Prop. C would place a small tax on businesses that make more than $50 million a year. The funds raised would go to build affordable housing and shelter beds.

Terra Heywood, co-owner and manager of The Stud, San Francisco’s longest continuously running gay bar, says at the end of the day she just wants “queer and leather people to be able to stay in the neighborhood."

Exactly. Because who would want to see events like the Folsom Street Fair go away?



(h/t them)

(lead image via Flickr/torbakhopper - CC license)

Renowned Gay Icon Cher Shares Her Fears After Chaz Came Out as Trans

Do you believe in life after... coming out? Gay icon and Goddess of Pop Cher, an ardent supporter of gay rights, interviewed Pride Source about being a gay icon and her relationship with her son, Chaz Bono, Wonderwall reports.

Cher is a well-known figure in the gay community for her social activism regarding HIV/AIDS prevention and LGBT rights. As most know, Cher has transgender son, Chaz Bono whom she loves and supports. However, according to the Pride Source interview, Cher did not always have an easy time with Chaz's coming out and transition.

Chaz officially came out as a lesbian in April of 1995 after being outed by tabloids five years prior. Chaz then came out as a transgender man to his parents. Cher had a difficult time accepting Chaz as transgender, as she was afraid that she was going to be losing a child.

This is what I think, and this is what I would hope: I would hope that, look, I didn't go through it that easily. Both times," she said. "When I found out Chaz was gay, I didn't go through it that easily; when I found out Chaz was [transitioning] ... except we talked about it a lot, actually. But then Chaz didn't mention it anymore, so I kind of forgot. And what I think is, there's such a fear of losing the child you love, and what will replace that child

I'm not a parent and won't be for a long time but I can imagine that taking in such information would be jarring for some.

Chaz underwent female-to-male transition in 2008-2010, and afterwarde changed his name and gender. This is rather significant and Cher was afraid that her child would be a different person after the transition but realized that Chaz must have been in a great deal of emotional pain living as a woman, and figured that since Chaz is happy living the life that he was destined to live, then she is happy too.

Cher accepting her transgender son is heartwarming as well as a teaching opportunity for many people. She was very afraid that her son would be a different person entirely after his transition but instead he remained Cher's child. This just shows that when people come out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, pansexual, ace, etc., it does not change who they are as a person.

h/t: Pride SourceWonderwall

Fab Drag-Themed Musical 'Kinky Boots' Announces Closing Date After 6 Year Run

After six Tony Awards, a Drama Desk Award, a Grammy Award and many more honors, the hit Broadway musical Kinky Boots has announced the production will bring down the curtain for the last time April 9, 2019, notching 2,507 performances at the Al Hirschfeld Theater.

The musical, which tells the world “You change the world when you change your mind,” has been celebrated on the Great White Way, in London, across the United States and around the world.

“The ideal big Broadway experience!” - The New York Observer

“This smash-hit struts its stuff with sparkle, stilettos and heart! - Time Out New York

Here's the synopsis via the official website:

Based on the 2005 film and inspired by a true story, KINKY BOOTS follows Charlie Price (Tony nominee STARK SANDS), an aspiring young businessman who is forced to give up his dreams of living the London city life in order to save his late father’s family business in Northern England. When Charlie suddenly inherits his father’s bankrupt shoe factory, he finds unexpected inspiration in the form of Lola (BILLY PORTER) a fabulous entertainer in need of some sturdy stilettos. As Charlie and Lola work to turn the factory around, this unlikely pair finds that they have more in common than they ever dreamed possible... and discovers that when you change your mind about someone, you can change your whole world.

From the beginning of the show’s genesis, the creators' message to audiences has been to learn to not only accept others for who they are, but to learn to love ourselves.

The show guide for Kinky Boots, provided to school groups who attend the show, underscores the importance of children learning to “let me be me.”

If you look at all of the influential people in the world, many of the most spectacular people were probably also highly unique individuals when they were younger. Could you imagine Lady Gaga at your high school prom or havingMark Zuckerberg sit at your lunch table? What’s funny is that what is often considered cool in school actually becomes average in the real world, whereas those students, who don’t quite fit in, may turn out to be shining stars when they grow-up.

Playing the outrageous drag queen with a heart, out actor Billy Porter's stunning performance as "Lola" won him a Tony Award, a Drama Desk Award and a Grammy.

Porter's star continues to rise thanks to his breakout role in the acclaimed FX series Pose (which boasted the largest LGBTQ cast in the history of television), and will be featured the new season of American Horror Story: Apocalypse.

Porter has also used his elevated celebrity status to raise his voice on behalf of the LGBTQ community every chance he gets.

Throughout the show’s run, stars from all corners of the celebrity spectrum have lined up to don those sexy, thigh-high red boots.

The list of past/present stars includes out pansexual lead singer of Panic at the Disco! Brendon Urie, American Idol winner David Cook, out lead singer for Neon Trees’ Tyler Glenn, TV host Wayne Brady, YouTube star Todrick Hall, out pop star Jake Shears, Dancing with the Stars' Mark Ballas, and Grammy Award winner Kirstin Maldonado of Pentatonix.

“When you’re watching something that is so based in joy, you just can’t deny it,” gushed Glenn when he joined the Broadway cast.

“When we first set out to make this show, we never could have imagined the success it would have here on Broadway and around the world,” said Harvey Fierstein (book) and Cyndi Lauper (composer) in a joint statement. “We speak on behalf of the entire company when we say how grateful we are to the fans who have embraced our work across four continents, and counting!”

“I’ll never forget the very first performance of this show, back in Chicago in the fall of 2012,” shared Tony Award winning director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell. “It was one of those magical nights in the theater, when the material connects with its audiences in exactly the way you hope for. It felt like a gift from the theater gods then, and it still does to this day.”

“In the years since, we have witnessed attitudes towards gender non-conformity start to change all across America in ways we couldn’t have begun to imagine in 2012,” Mitchell added. “It’s never easy saying farewell to a beloved production, but knowing that Kinky Boots is leaving a more accepting world than the one it was born into is hugely gratifying for everyone involved.”

If you haven’t seen the show yet, head down to the Al Hirschfeld Theater before April 9.

(h/t The Hollywood Reporter)

From Hate Comes Support: How Colorado is Paving a Path Towards LGBT Leadership

I've written about how this year holds the record for LGBTQ people running for positions in government in my post "Historic Number of LGBTQ People Run for Congress." In Colorado, there are currently seven LGBTQ individuals, which is a great feat. However, things in the Centennial State weren't always so great for LGBT people, reports the Denver Post

Related post: Travel Thursday: Denver, Colorado - It's Called the Mile High City and the Queen City But It May Also Be Our Newest Favorite Destination.

On the faithful night in 1992 when Bill Clinton was elected president, Democrats were ecstatic, as an unprecedented number of women were running for Congress, many of which won. While it was a great accomplishment for women across the country, lawmakers in Colorado passed Amendment 2, which, according to BallotPedia, would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people by prohibiting the state of Colorado from adopting protections for non-heterosexual people, making Colorado known colloquially as the Hate State. This caused boycotts to Colorado-based businesses, which caused a decrease in revenue. In addition, the amendment sparked LGBT activism across the state. In October of 1995, a Supreme Court case, Romer v. Evans was introduced to repeal Amendment 2, according to Justia. In this case, many people in Colorado felt that the amendment violated the Equal Protections Clause, which, as the name suggests, says that businesses do not have the right to deny equal protection under the law. The Court decided 6-3 in May of 1996 to repeal the amendment.

However, while the amendment was overturned, Colorado lawmakers did not stop creating anti-LGBT legislation across state and federal levels. Democratic Colorado politicians helped elect liberal-minded people into the state legislature to help stop anti-LGBT laws being passed.

After Bill Clinton's presidency was over, George W. Bush, a man who attempted to create a nationwide amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, won the presidency twice. On the day of his reelection, Colorado switched from being a Republican-run state to a Democrat-run one. Under Democrat control, state legislature passed a bill to add protections for transgender people to Colorado's existing hate crime statutes. Eventually, Colorado state legislature passed laws that included protection in housing, employment, and adoption rights. Colorado is one of the few states that offers full protection under the law for LGBT people. 

Even now, more and more LGBTQ people are running for positions in Congress because of the ever-popular "bathroom bills" sweeping the nation and worries over the Trump administration's stance on LGBT rights. 

Being born at the tail end of 1994 in New Jersey, I am fortunate enough to have been born in a time and location where LGBT people lived and continue to live in a relatively equal state. Unfortunately, there are still many places in the United States and around the world where LGBT people are being treated unfairly, to put it lightly. Colorado, once a hot bed of anti-LGBT leadership, has now become one of the best states for LGBT people because of the unacceptable, hateful policies that were in place to harm lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people. When people create hate, others fight back with love. It is my hope that across the US, LGBT people will be treated equally and fairly, as bigotry has no place in the land of the free.

h/t: Denver PostBallotPediaJustia

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: APU Does a 360 and Reinstates Ban

I've recently written about Azusa Pacific University lifting its ban on same-sex relationships on their campus in my post "Azusa Pacific University Removes Ban on Same-sex Relationships, Sex Still Out of the Question." To recap, Azusa Pacific University, an Evangelical college in California, had LGBT students who felt that they were being discriminated against because they were not allowed to express romance on campus unlike their heterosexual classmates so they spoke with the Dean of Students who listened to the LGBT students and lifted the ban on same-sex relationships on campus. The lift lasted a total of three days.

According to The Christian Post, APU's Board of Trustees reinstated the ban, saying that it never received approval to rephrase the wording in the student handbook that banned same-sex relationships. The Board also said that they are standing strong in their Christian faith and will never stray due to outside pressure. It is my belief that the best way for societal change to occur is to listen to both sides on a specific issue and weigh the pros and cons and decide whether or not that the societal change is for the better. Take Christianity itself for example: During the 16th century, Martin Luther took the religion by storm by writing the Ninety-Five Theses, criticizing the Catholic Church's on the sale of indulgences (certificates that can be purchased in order to lessen the severity of sins, widely used by the Catholic Church), which, in turn, created the Protestant Reformation which then led to the formation of Lutheranism and other denominations of Christianity. 

So if Christianity itself can adapt to fit the beliefs of billions of people, it stands to reason that APU should be able to accommodate its LGBT students. However, the staff at Azusa are standing firm in their belief in biblical values. There are supporters of APU's decision, saying that keeping the ban on same-sex relationships is the right thing to do and while proponents of same-sex relationships will be unhappy, it was the right move. 

Students fought for years to get the ban lifted, saying that they were hurt by the discriminatory practices being enacted by APU and that by lifting the ban, LGBT students felt less stigmatized, as many conservative Christian groups view LGBT people as lesser beings who engage impermissible sexual acts.

It is my hope that APU will eventually come to terms with homosexuality and allow same-sex relationships on campus, but it being a private school, it is unlikely that it will happen. By banning same-sex relationships, Azusa Pacific University is othering LGBT individuals and treating them unfairly, which is the complete opposite of one of Christianity's central tenets.  

h/t: The Christian Post

Minister Fired for Liking and Posting Facebook Pictures Of a Same-Sex Wedding

As of June 26th, 2015, same-sex marriage has been recognized as a valid union across the entire United States. Most places have caught up to the times, but, unfortunately, there are certain places that are slow to the uptake. One such place is the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, where, according to News 5 Cleveland, they fired their minister, Keith Kozak, after he posted two Facebook posts that celebrated a same-sex wedding. The posts were of fellow Instinct blogger Adam Dupuis' friends, Jason and Kevin. Adam has written about them in his 2015 article "Gay Boys Everywhere Can Now Dream Of Their Own Fairy Tale Wedding. Here's Two To Get Those Dreams Started."

Keith attended the wedding and took pictures to celebrate his friends' love and marriage. Afterwards, he was called into a meeting where the thought that he was going to discuss an upcoming promotion with his boss.

Instead, they fired him.

Kozak never thought that he posted anything that would put his job in jeopardy, but according to the Cleveland diocese, showing support for a friend's happiness was too much. His supervisor and a member of the human resources team. They discussed the fact that he had liked a post supporting a same-sex couple and posted a few of the same wedding. The meeting ended quickly and he received a letter the next day saying that he was terminated from his position. Kozak never discussed his homosexuality with the Diocese, saying that he didn't think it was important. 

Keith says that he still believes in God but feels that the Catholic Diocese acted discriminatorily towards him for firing him for supporting same-sex marriage. The Diocese believes that Kozak's termination was appropriate.  

Like I mentioned before, many people in the US are in support of same-sex marriage but some still do not believe that it is moral. While there are many LGBT friendly religious organizations, the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland seems adamant in their disapproval of homosexuality. So adamant, in fact, that they would fire someone for supporting their friends who happen to be gay. It is my hope that most people will eventually support homosexuality across the globe and speaking out against injustices such as this is a great way to start. 

   h/t: News 5 Cleveland

Exclusive First Look: Johnnell Terrell and Tyrone Wells Show Off Their Assets And Love In Latest Adonis Underwear Campaign

In the ultimate battle of the gods, models and social media stars Johnnell Terrell and Tyrone Wells take on one another in the latest underwear campaign for Adonis by Kyhry.

Photographed by Elvis Piedra, Terrell and Wells can be seen wearing some of the hottest and most popular styles available on adonisunderwear.com, including the X Black Jockstrap and Perfect Fit Purple Jockstrap.

One of the most important aspects of the campaign is the story of both Terrell and Wells. Not only are they both members of the LGBTQ+ community, but they are also in a relationship together. Adonis founder Kyhry Taylor said: “I choose them to be models for this campaign because I wanted to show two guys that are comfortable with embracing each other.”

“They’re also very popular amongst the gay community but they’ve never done a professional editorial photo shoot for any brand before. I wanted to be the first brand to hire them because I saw their potential.”

Taylor added that “this campaign is important because it shows that it’s okay for two gay guys to be comfortable in their own skin...Sadly, our community still deals with a lot of homophobia so it’s important to show a positive representation of gay men and gay love”.

Both Tyrone Wells and Johnell Terrell have recently appeared on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, while Johnnell Terrell has previously worked with celebrity photographers Mark Henderson and Noire 3000. They have both hosted a number of Pride events across the country, including Blatino Oasis, Miami Sizzle, and DC Black Pride. The couple has a combined social following of over 360k on Instagram.

Johnnell Terrell Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/johnnell_/

Tyrone Wells Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/tyronewells/

Johnell Terrell said of the photo shoot: “We wanted to do this campaign because we believe in the product and vision behind it. Being able to be a part of this has been an amazing experience.

“I feel there are not enough black men who are able to express their art in the underwear industry as white men are usually given the majority of opportunities. I feel, as gay black men, we can really push limits on the freedom of expressing that art while using a platform to be recognized for. We believe in this new wave of social media, it creates more outlets of diversity.”

On working alongside his partner Tyrone Wells, Terrell added, “It’s always great working alongside my partner and doing the photo shoot together has opened our minds to be able to work creatively and feed off each other’s energy.”


Adonis by Kyhry was founded in 2015 by Kyhry Taylor.

Elvis Piedra is a photographer from Atlanta. His work has been featured in a number of publications, including The Oprah Magazine.

Disabled LGBT Veteran Opens Up About Being Gay in the Military

The military provides an extremely important service to the United States, as it helps citizens remain a sense of safety. Unfortunately, the US military has not always been accommodating to its LGBT members, with harmful policies such as the now-repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that was instituted under Bill Clinton on December 21st, 1993, which prohibited LGBT military members from telling others about their sexuality and from discussing any homosexual relationships, and any members who would divulge such information would be discharged, as openly LGBT people were not allowed to serve in the military.

One member, Eric Alva shares his struggles with being gay in the military and having to hide his sexuality, Herald-Dispatch reports. Eric spoke at the Tri-State Conference on Diversity & Inclusion in Huntington, West Virginia on Friday, September 28th. Eric Alva had served in the Iraq War where he was injured after stepping on a landmine and suffered right-hand paralysis and severe leg injuries that resulted in him having to get his right leg amputated. Afterwards, he was discharged and awarded a Purple Heart from former president George W. Bush. While recovering, he felt that he did not want to live with his disabilities and wished that he had died during the blast. 

Alva was afraid to come out, fearing the reactions he would get from the people who he associated with. He then figured that he can use his experience as a gay Marine to advance LGBT rights. He came out as gay in 2007 in "Good Morning America." Today he works as a specialist in the University of Texas in the San Antonio Department of Social Work and had previously spoken about repealing the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, which was repealed in 2010 by former president Barack Obama. Alva, through his bravery in both serving in the US military and his coming out, has helped many LGBT people who struggle to disclose their sexuality. He showed that being gay is only a small part of one's identity and that people are much more than their sexuality. 

h/t: Herald-Dispatch

Texas House Speaker Earns Award for Stopping Transphobic Bathroom Bills

Joe Straus, the Speaker of the House of Texas, was awarded this week for his efforts to thwart two transphobic bathroom bills that would force transgender people to use the bathroom that match their biological sex, according to Dallas News

Straus is retiring after this year and as a final act of kindness, he refused to pass two transphobic bathroom bills in 2017. The American Unity Fund granted him the Champions of Freedom Award.

Before weighing in on the human rights aspect of the bills, he focused mainly on how the bills would potentially negatively impact businesses. He then realized how negatively it woule affect transgender Texans. Supporters of the bills used the disingenuous argument that if the bills weren't passed that men could enter the women's room and sexually assault women and girls.

However, Straus wwarned Texans to not celebrate yet, as he feels that similar bills will come back. Straus also said that even though he's retiring, he will strengthen the Republican party and fight against harmful policies.

Homophobic and transphobic policies continue to plague the US and the rest of the world and we need politicians such as Straus to fight against harmful legislation.

Jury Awards $31 Million In Botched Circumcision Lawsuit

A jury in Georgia has awarded a young boy $31 million for pain and suffering after a botched circumcision left his penis severely deformed.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the boy was only 18 days old in October 2013 when his mother took him to Riverdale’s Life Cycle Pediatrics to be circumcised.

It’s estimated that 81% of American males have undergone the minor operation.

But an accidental slip by nurse midwife Melissa Jones during the procedure left the boy with part of his penis severed.

Dr. Brian Register informed the owner of the clinic, Anne Sigoin, as well as the boy's pediatrician, Dr. Abigail Kamishlian of Daffoldil Pediatric and Family Medical.

At the time, the tissue was placed in a refrigerator and no efforts were made to reattach the tissue via emergency surgery. The bleeding boy was sent home with his mother.

For years now, the boy has had to undergo multiple surgeries just to be able to urinate while his mother had to insert a medical instrument into his penis several times a day to keep it from closing due to chronic scabbing.

Aside from the obviously painful physical effects of the accident, doctors are unsure if the boy will be able to have children.

The attorney representing the boy, Neal Pope, addressed the emotional and social issues the boy will face as he gets older including embarrassment as he begins dating.

“It will take a special person to accept the boy’s deformity,” said Pope.

During the trial, Pope showed the jury a photo of Lebron James explaining the NBA star earned $99 million in three years, and then pointed out that the boy’s life expectancy could be another 69 years.

Pope concluded his point by saying, “I think the case is a $100 million case.”

Terrell W. Benton, the attorney representing Jones and Register, recommended to the jury that $1 million would have been a fair amount to cover the boy’s ongoing medical expenses, long-term therapy and suffering.

Jones, Register, Sigouin’s Life Cycle Pediatrics and Life Cycle OB/GYN, Kamishlian and Daffodil Pediatric and Family Medical were all included as defendants in the suit, but Jones and Register were the only ones found to be liable.

The boy’s mother has asked that all of the defendants contribute to the $31 million award.

(h/t Atlanta Journal-Constitution)