No More Public Sex at Up Your Alley Fair

Categories: Breaking News
You were expecting, perhaps, a tea party?
Bad news for leather folks who wanted to get a blow job at this year's Up Your Alley Fair: The event organizers and the police are teaming up to stamp your public lovin' out.

A controversy has been simmering in the gay press and the city's leather community ever since the Bay Area Reporter wrote that two people have lodged complaints with the Office of Citizens Complaints about the 14 police officers at last year's festival for not enforcing public indecency laws. The Up Your Alley Fair, which is considered by leather folks to be the more local, less commercial cousin to the giant Folsom Street Fair in the fall, will be held on July 26 in SoMA's Dore Alley.

At a hearing on street closures in April, police demanded that the festival organizers come up with a stricter security plan to ward off the public sex this year. They referenced photos of last year's event posted anonymously on the Web site, depicting several men giving and receiving blow jobs, and another dude ejaculating from a second-story window onto the crowd below. Many of the photos show San Francisco police officers within view of the action. Festival Executive Director Demetri Moshoyannis said that he met with the police on Tuesday, and he expects them to approve the updated security plan in the coming days. "They were really impressed by the work we've already done, and I think everyone felt really good about signing off on it."

Moshoyannis said he was blindsided at the April hearing when he was told their original security plan wasn't going to cut it this year. He tells us that he'd intervened and stopped all the public sex he saw at the festival last year. Public sex "sounds good in theory, but in practice, it's not terribly practical. We have been enforcing these rules. What we're being asked to do is increase our effort."

This year, the festival will have more signs declaring "no public sex" and clearly label the neon-jacketed security men as "Security." (He said that people in the past confused them with the clean-up crew. We presume it also helps to avoid confusion with ex-Village People.)

So why were the police ignoring all the oral sex? Police Lieutenant Nicole Greely, who oversees special events, said that the cops hadn't warned the festival organizers prior to the day of the festival: "We don't like to just enforce laws without an education plan beforehand. At Bay to Breakers, if we'd just go out and tell everyone no kegs and took everyone's kegs" it would make for bad public relations.

Moshoyannis said he's seen the internet photos, and called the anonymous photographer "a homophobic coward. If you want to criticize someone or somebody's community, at least attach your name to it ... If you don't identify as part of my community, you should be prepared for the expression of the leather community or don't come."

Yet even some members of the community are complaining as well. Michael Hughes of San Francisco wrote a letter to the editor of the B.A.R. identifying himself as "a Castro merchant for nearly five years, as well as a gay man who contributes financially to the causes" that the fair supports. He wrote that he'd lodged complaints with the mayor's office, Supervisor Bevan Dufty, and Greely. "...when I first spoke with Lieutenant Greely, she told me that the message from the mayor's office was that the police should practice tolerance during these events, which really pissed me off because it sends a message that the ones breaking the law should be held up to a different standard than our straight friends."

Greely denied ever saying that. "The mayor's office has never said anything to us." (The mayor's office apparently isn't saying anything to us either, never having returned requests for comment Thursday.) Greely says that the police aren't prudes, but they need to enforce the law in an increasingly residential neighborhood. "Years ago, it was an industrial area with no one around. Now there's a clinic, and low income housing, and regular housing."

"We're incredibly tolerant. We just like to make the residents who live there happy."
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