There is a movement to create a new “Leather Cultural District” in the South of Market area. There are already several such Cultural Districts in San Francisco, including Japantown, the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District in the Mission, Compton’s Transgender Cultural District north of Market Street, and the SOMA Pilipinas Cultural District.
There is currently a Draft Resolution being considered in City Hall to create the Leather Cultural District, and legislation is being crafted to formalize these Districts and give them some power and, eventually, funding from the Hotel Tax.
Many people think that a Leather District would honor and commemorate the people, places and institutions that gave South of Market its distinctive culture and appeal, and would also help protect the remaining businesses and spaces, and sustain the people who live, work and recreate there.
Affordable housing, protection of bars and clubs, creation of a new community center, zoning and transit, even the survival of institutions like the Folsom Street Fair, could all be impacted positively by the creation of a Cultural District that recognizes the coalescense of the Leather Community in this neighborhood over the last half-century.
Time is of the essence in this case: the process will take a while, and getting the new District established before the relevant legislation is approved will be much easier, and will help get funding flowing much sooner.
Creating such a new entity will require a lot of public input and support. We all have opinions on what “Leather” means to us, what priorities our community should emphasize, what the resolution establishing the District should say, and how the community should maintain and administer the District once it is created. At this point, all of this is open for discussion. Even the name of the district (“Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) Leather Cultural District” in the current draft) is up for discussion.
Everyone in the “Leather community” – whatever that actually means – is encouraged to participate in this effort, and to make their opinions heard in the process.
To facilitate that, several communication tools have been created, and a series of Community Meetings are happening now. One way you can get involved is to visit www.sfleatherdistrict.org; the meeting dates and locations will be announced there, and there are documents you can view, and open forums for opinions and comments. From there, you can follow a link to join a Slack workspace, where the discussion is expected to be more real-time and interactive. (You can access Slack via the Web, or use the free desktop or mobile app.)
There is also a “Leather Cultural District Contact List”; sign up at tinyurl.com/leatherculturecontact to be notified of meetings and other events, or volunteer your skills. You may also find relevant info on Facebook and Twitter. Or you could email Rachel Ryan (at “raquelbradley” “at” “gmail.com”) and chat about it with her.
However you participate, the folks working on it hope you will take some time to become familiar with the proposal, to think about it, and to talk to your friends about it. And they hope you will want to give it your energy and support.