A “Right” to public sex?

I love the Folsom Street Fair. I love that there is a day in the year that hundreds of thousands of freaks and gawkers run around being freaky. I love that we are given this leeway, and I love that our local government supports the Leather Community the way that it does.

I am not so sure that I am entirely positive on this recent development.

Every year there are a handful of complaints about the sexual antics at the fair. This is pretty normal. Folsom pushes boundaries, and this is something to be expected. It usually is addressed in a low-key manner, and is forgotten within a few weeks.

Today, I saw an editorial in the SF Weekly, decrying a proposal to set up “public sex tents” at Folsom. This sounded a little extreme, and I thought it was probably some sort of scare-tactic to ruffle the feathers of those who are already not fans of Folsom, and to build momentum in the increasing conservatism in San Francisco.

“Public sex tents? Now there’s an idea that should have been shot down the second it was announced from the mouth of a member of the “leather community” in response to complaints about public sex at Folsom Street Fair and its smaller sibling fair, Up Your Alley.

Instead, it appears that at least one of our local leaders (Supervisor Bevan Dufty) has agreed to take the matter “under advisement.” Since our local leaders are having trouble speaking the obvious, we will: Public sex is not appropriate at Folsom Street Fair or anywhere else. Even in San Francisco.”

You can read the whole editorial here.

The thing is, this editorial seems to NOT be in reply to a story in the paper, but refers to a “Community Feedback Meeting” held at City Hall. One of the attendees was Michael Petrellis. He reported on the meeting before it happened, and posted abut the results as well. His full blog post is listed here.

I found this in particular particularly interesting:

“Demetri and Andy gave a recap of how 2-3 complaints filed against individual cops with the Office of Civilian Complaints, created controversy two months before the Dore Alley Fair, leading to a crackdown on public sex this year. When Demetri asked if there was a different vibe because of the crackdown, I spoke up and set there was, and that we lost public sex space – the alley next to the Powerhouse – and that I want to reclaim the right to engage in public fellatio, or watch it unimpeded by sex monitors.

I said a tent, that would be clearly marked for oral sex and alcohol-free, should be considered, as a safe space for consenting adults to engage in fellatio on a public street. Of course, some poor suckers, er, lucky volunteers would have to head up a committee to maintain security at the tent, or other structure, if this idea is to become reality, and I’d be the first to kneel down and pray that this happens. Demetri and Bevan will consider the tent idea and it will be revisited at future meetings.”

As an avid supported of sexual freedom, the idea that we have a “right” to public sexual intercourse gives me pause.

What are your thoughts?

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  1. Kat on December 7, 2009 at 12:39 PM

    When it comes to Folsom and this debacle, it reminds me of other “non-PC events” that got wussified when a couple loud mouths showed up at said event, knowing what it entailed. They decided to go to the event knowing the premise and complain, rather than expending less negative energy by simply WALKING AWAY. Its like the person on the net who slams me for my ugly image when they always had the option to either a) not click or b) click the back button and be done with it. They choose neither and it seems that the poster of the content is expected to react/change things.

    • mollena on December 7, 2009 at 4:17 PM

      The other thing is, the vocal minority wouldn’t BE at Folsom in the first place, right? Te hypothetical “save the children!” “you are destroying this country” drumbeat is totally moot when the event IS COMPLETELY VOLUNTARY, contained, and none of your business if yo don’t want it to be.
      .-= mollena´s most recent blog moment of Zen on the net was…A “Right” to public sex? =-.

      • Kat on December 9, 2009 at 1:47 PM

        Exactly. I mean, I can understand if they decide one day to OPEN their mind and attend an event, with the intention of expanding thier horizons. Even if they were to get there and come across something that suddenly squicks them, they would not make such a noise about it unless they are the type that point fingers at everyone else but themselves.

        However, the people that complain about stuff like this at Folsom, WHEN IT HAS BEEN THIS WAY FOR YEARS AND YEARS, seem to have no constructive intention behind going to the event.

        I guess everyone needs something to complain about. The squeakiest wheel gets the most grease and all that jazz. :-/

  2. Lil on December 7, 2009 at 4:04 PM

    Ordinarily I’m mightily against public (in the non-kink-identified gathering sense of the word) sex. Play in the park or on the beach or a blowjob cruising along the highway might be all the more exciting for the risk of being seen, or *because* you will be seen.. Doesn’t give us the right to involve another person non-consensually in our play though.

    But at folsom? Seriously? .. I would be all upset and pouty if I *didn’t* get to see some kinky dirty getdowns. A person’d hafta be blind or stoopid to not expect what goes on – they make a growed-up choice to be there or not.

    • mollena on December 7, 2009 at 4:36 PM

      I think, now that I’ve mulled it what bothers me is that this woudl best be handled within the parameters of the organizers taking care of business without involving public debate.

      Unless there is a public health issue (which this may well be, in which case the department of health ought to be involved in the discussion as to whether encouraging pubic sex has a possible public health component) letting the organizers of Folsom decide, amongst themselves, what the best course of action would be seems fair.

      I don’t necessarily like it, but some shit is best left among those who can contextualize it.
      .-= mollena´s most recent blog moment of Zen on the net was…A “Right” to public sex? =-.

  3. Sascha on December 7, 2009 at 6:06 PM

    I don’t really know how I feel about it either. On the one hand, it’s Folsom. I get the impression that the tents were suggested as a way to contain the public sex that would inevitably happen.

    On the other hand, the editorial has a point that this shouldn’t be settled in city hall. It’s for the Folsom organizers to deal with.
    .-= Sascha´s most recent blog moment of Zen on the net was…Choices! =-.

  4. pixiepop on December 7, 2009 at 6:45 PM

    While one of the things I do absolutely love about Folsom is the “Freedom” on the streets .. I think tents are just way wrong. Sure, we see the occasional public display of sex, that is to be somewhat expected, its part of the fun for the voyeurs and exhibitionist, and part of the lifestyle scene. And we know thats all those little portapotties are really being used for … but, Folsom is not about coming together for public sex and putting tents up to support; even encourage it, I think takes away from what Folsom IS about, which is to promote/support diversity within the leather/alternative lifestyle community.
    .-= pixiepop´s most recent blog moment of Zen on the net was…Have you been naughty or nice?? Come tell Santa Fet about it! =-.

  5. Coyote Too on December 15, 2009 at 9:39 AM

    I tend to think pushing for a “right” to public sex is a bit much, but having tents just seems to cheapen it all. I guess it’s one of those things I feel fall into the “take your chances and live with the consequences” category. Then again, from here in Massachusetts, it all seems a bit surreal. I’ve not yet had a chance to go Folsom, but I clearly remember my reaction when I first saw photos of the fair.

    “Shit. They’re doing stuff in public there that isn’t even legal to do in my own bedroom in Massachusetts!”

    So, from the land of “there’s no such thing as consenting to BDSM; in public OR at home it’s prosecutable abuse”… best wishes and have fun!