Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

SF Folsom Street Fair 2010 poster inspired by recent police raids of Texas, Georgia gay bars

The poster image for the 2010 Folsom Street Fair was inspired by recent police raids of gay bars in Fort Worth, Texas and Atlanta, Georgia. The official poster also derived inspiration from the movie The Usual Suspects, the 1995 crime capper directed by openly gay filmmaker Brian Singer.

The organizers of the annual fetish fair, Folsom Street Events, said due to the outrage sparked within the LGBT community by the raids at the Atlanta Eagle and The Rainbow Lounge in Texas they decided to use the poster’s artwork as a way to highlight  issues of crime and punishment in the community.

In a statement released on Mother’s Day announcing the poster design, Folsom Street Events said the image, which features a line up of people in various drag, leather and fetish wear, juxtaposes crimes on Wall Street, such as the Goldman Sachs scandal, against behaviors in the BDSM community which may be punishable in some states and cities. Only recently did the Oakland City Council move to end a ban against cross-dressing that has been on the East Bay city’s books since the 1800s.

“This year’s Folsom Street Fair poster is intended to draw attention to the ongoing discrimination and persecution facing consenting adults who practice BDSM,” stated Demetri Moshoyannis, the organization’s executive director. “We are extremely pleased with the outcome of this poster because it maintains the tradition of our trademark cutting-edge commentary on our community within the broader society. We are very much looking forward to producing a fantastic series of internationally renowned events this year.”

The theme selection will unlikely generate the same controversy seen in 2007 when the poster depicted a leather Last Supper scene with a shirtless black Jesus figure. Catholic groups decried the image as anti-religious and the fair and its major sponsor Miller Brewing Company apologized for offending anyone.

Nonetheless, the yearly poster images are coveted collectors items by people the world over who attend the fairs.

“Folsom Street Fair has a custom now of creating posters which are timely, provocative, and address vital community issues and values. At the same time, we like to give it our own ‘cheeky’ spin,” stated Mitchell Koonce, the group’s administration and special projects manager who oversaw the creative process of producing the this year’s poster. “With everything that has been happening on Wall Street, we think it is important to spotlight the real criminal behavior in society.”

The fair producers note that consensual BDSM can be prosecuted in many jurisdictions under felony laws dealing with assault and sexual abuse with the potential for serious jail time. Criminal laws that are used against consensual BDSM practitioners can include assault, battery, sexual assault, sexual abuse, sadomasochistic abuse, lewd or lascivious conduct, selling or possessing certain sex toys, kidnapping, rape, prostitution, and trafficking.

For many other categories of sex-related crimes, proof of consent defeats the prosecution’s case – not so with BDSM, which is treated as violence instead of consensual sexual conduct, stated the fair producers.

Even going out to a gay bar can result in police harassment to this day, as witnessed last year when 62 patrons and eight employees at the Atlanta Eagle were searched without a warrant, reasonable suspicion or probable cause on September 10.

News reports noted that several patrons were forced to lie face down on the floor for over two hours, and LGBT community leaders decried what they saw as excessive force by the police who used a “Red Dog Unit,” which typically deals with crimes such as gang violence, during the bar raid.

The LGBT community the world over also reacted with anger and shock at the  raid on the gay bar in Forth Worth, Texas on the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots last June. And in California LGBT leaders have expressed concerns about the tactics used by the state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control in overseeing liquor licenses at gay and straight venues.

“This targeting of consensual, adult behavior is often a way of harassing sexual minority communities,” stated Folsom Fair Events leaders in their release.

The Folsom Street Fair poster is available online at

— Matthew S. Bajko, May 11, 2010 @ 5:17 pm PST
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