Ahead of Folsom fair, SF LeatherWalk set for Sunday

  • by Eric Burkett, Assistant Editor
  • Thursday September 15, 2022
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A revitalized LeatherWalk kicked off Leather Week in 2021. Photo: Dave Fong
A revitalized LeatherWalk kicked off Leather Week in 2021. Photo: Dave Fong

For the second year in a row, San Francisco LeatherWalk returns as the city prepares to usher in Leather Week ahead of the Folsom Street Fair. It may be a wet affair due to an expected stormfront from the Pacific Northwest forecasted to bring rain to the Bay Area early next week.

The walk, to be held Sunday, September 18, has been produced by different organizations over the years, but the Leather & LGBTQ Cultural District will hold the event for the second consecutive year after taking over its management in 2021, as the Bay Area Reporter previously reported.

In what is now a sign of the times, there will be a monkeypox vaccine pop-up, leather district officials said.

LeatherWalk, which has traditionally included participants from myriad leather- and kink-oriented clubs and groups, will begin gathering at 11 a.m. at the Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett steps on the Polk Street side of City Hall. After stopping at a number of popular watering holes and locations en route, the walk will end up at Eagle Plaza around 2:30 p.m., joining the ongoing Leather Pride Fest that is organized by the SF Eagle.

There, those in need of an MPX vaccine can get one from 3 to 6 p.m., although pre-registration is required. Vaccinations are prioritized for Black, Latinx, people of color, and trans individuals.

"The Leather & LGBTQ Cultural District is thrilled to continue the treasured community tradition of LeatherWalk for a second year," said cultural district manager Cal Callahan. "I was fortunate to have not only participated in the walk in previous years, but to help organize it for AIDS Emergency Fund and then PRC. We are excited that so many younger members of the leather and kink community have embraced LeatherWalk and are making it their own."

Regarding possible inclement weather, Callahan said the plan is to go forward with the walk rain or shine. Attendees might want to bring an umbrella, he added.

The usually annual event was first held in 1992 by Art Tomaszewski, a former AEF board president and former Bare Chest Calendar man and Mr. Headquarters Leather, as the B.A.R. reported last year. In 2001, Sandy "Mama" Reinhardt, a longtime leather community member and fundraiser, took over production of the walk.

Mr. San Francisco Leather 2010 Lance Holman, who had been a longtime walk volunteer for AEF and its former sister organization the Breast Cancer Emergency Fund, assumed leadership of the walk in 2013. Two years later Folsom Street Events, now known as Folsom Street, which produces the Folsom Street Fair, took over organizing the annual event in partnership with AEF/BCEF in an effort to boost participation and increase the amount of money raised for the trio of nonprofits.

After a leadership change at the nonprofit group that oversees the fetish fair and its smaller counterpart the Up Your Alley Fair, Folsom Street decided not to hold a LeatherWalk in 2019. The owners of the Eagle held a Leather parade that September instead. PRC acquired the license to the LeatherWalk when it merged with AEF in 2016. BCEF at the time became its own standalone entity. PRC later decided to relinquish its oversight of the LeatherWalk to the cultural district.

The leather cultural district's website noted that participation in the walk is free, but donations are accepted to benefit the district. Participants will receive a free commemorative pin, the website stated. For more information, click here.

The Folsom Street Fair takes place Sunday, September 25.

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