Folsom art draws fire from the right
by Heather Cassell
The photograph resembling Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting of the Last Supper used on the Folsom Street Fair program and its promotional posters drew fire Tuesday, September 25 from Concerned Women for America.
The anti-gay group issued a news release stating that the Folsom Street Fair is "reminiscent of biblical Sodom and Gomorrah."
"The bread and wine representing Christ's broken body and life-giving blood are replaced with sadomasochistic sex toys in this twisted version of da Vinci's 'Last Supper,'" said the CWA's statement.
In response to pressure from CWA's constituents, Miller Brewing Company on Wednesday requested that Folsom Street Events remove its logo from the posters displaying the leather last supper image.
"While Miller has supported the Folsom Street Fair for several years, we take exception to the poster the organizing committee developed this year," the company said on its Web site. "We understand some individuals may find the imagery offensive and we have asked the organizers to remove our logo from the poster effective immediately."
[After the print edition of the Bay Area Reporter went to press, a Miller spokesman told the paper that the company would continue to support the event.
"We are and will continue to be supportive [of Folsom Street Fair and the LGBT community]," said Julian Green, director of media relations of Miller Brewing Company, Wednesday afternoon.
Miller has not requested a refund of any sponsorship money, Green said.
Green said that Miller's decision was based on corporate policies.
"[It] has nothing to do with public pressure," said Green.
Green said that the company's decision was based on marketing guidelines at the corporate level that don't allow use of its logo on any "creative design" depicting a "religious connotation."
Until CWA's call to action Tuesday, Miller's corporate office wasn't aware of the use of its logo on the poster, Green said.
"Our corporate offices was not made aware of the artwork, however, there may have been some awareness at the local level," said Green. "If it had been reviewed at the corporate level it would not have been approved."]
Folsom Street Events Executive Director Demetri Moshoyannis told the B.A.R. late Wednesday morning that they weren't concerned about Miller's request to remove its logo from the posters. When asked if they thought that they might lose Miller's sponsorship, Moshoyannis said, "Not to our knowledge."
People commenting on the Joe.My.God blog called for support of Miller rather than a boycott, stating that the beverage company has been supportive of the LGBT community for many years.
CWA attacked the gay community.
"Scripture says that God is not mocked, yet it doesn't stop people from trying," Matt Barber, policy director for cultural issues with CWA, said in the release. "As evidenced by this latest stunt, open ridicule of Christianity is unfortunately very common within much of the homosexual community."
"I guess it wouldn't be Folsom Street Fair without offending some extreme members of the global community," said Andy Copper, board president of Folsom Street Events, in a statement issued Tuesday afternoon. "There is no intention to be particularly pro-religion or anti-religion with this poster; the image is intended only to be reminiscent of the 'Last Supper' painting."
Copper stated, "... many of the people in the leather and fetish communities are spiritual and that this poster image is a way of expressing that side of the community's interests and beliefs."
"The irony is that da Vinci was widely considered to be homosexual," Copper added.
Copper pointed to the diversity in the photo, stating that it is a "distinctive representation of diversity with women and men, people of all colors and sexual orientations" which is a part of San Francisco's values.
Local gay clergy also weighed in on the matter.
"I disagree with them I don't think that [Folsom Street Events] is mocking God," said Chris Glaser, interim senior pastor at Metropolitan Community Church â€“ San Francisco. "I think that they are just having fun with a painting of Leonardo da Vinci and having fun with the whole notion of 'San Francisco values' and I think it's pretty tastefully and cleverly done."
Glaser added, "I think that oftentimes religious people miss out on things because they don't have a sense of humor. That's why being a queer spiritual person we can laugh at ourselves and laugh at other people."
Barber called the photo an action of lashing out in a "hateful manner toward the very people they accuse," referring to gay activists calling Christians "haters and homophobes." He said that taxpayers are being "forced" to pay for the fair that allows "'gay' men and women to parade the streets fully nude, many having sex â€“ even group orgies â€“ in broad daylight, while taxpayer funded police officers look on and do absolutely nothing."
CWA called on California's elected officials, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), and Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer to "publicly condemn this unprovoked attack against Christ and His followers."
Pelosi was mocked for her "San Francisco values" in a Saturday Night Live skit last year that poked fun at right-wing attacks that she would bring "left of center" values to Congress.
Tuesday afternoon, Pelosi downplayed the right's uproar.
"As a Catholic, the speaker is confident that Christianity has not been harmed," said Drew Hammill, Pelosi's press secretary.
Barber urged the media to "cover the affront to Christianity with the same vigor as recent stories about cartoon depictions of Mohammed and other items offensive to the Muslim community."
Moshoyannis would not comment beyond the organization's news release sent out on Tuesday.
Copper stated that the leather last supper was the first FSF poster inspired by cultural classics in a series of posters forthcoming from FSE including "American Gothic" by Grant Wood, Edvard Munch's "The Scream" and even The Sound of Music.
Photographer FredAlert, who produced the staged leather last supper, declined to comment.