San Francisco

LGBQT Leather Cultural District Proposed For SoMa

After a decade of planning, a resolution to create an LGBQT Leather Cultural District in western SoMa was introduced last week before the Folsom Street Fair, SF Weekly has reported

The resolution was proposed by District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim and District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy. According to documents on the Western SoMa Citizens Planning Task Force's website, the idea has been brewing since 2007.

In 2010, Planning issued a draft of the Western SoMa LGBTQ Social Heritage Proposal on how "the community proposes to memorialize and recognize the living LGBTQ social-cultural heritage and fabric of this San Francisco neighborhood." 

The cultural district would protect the history and culture of the neighborhood, especially as the National Parks Service LGBQT Initiative found that many locations in the area have significant historical value, including the End Up (401 6th St.), Oasis (298 11th St.), and the Stud Bar (399 9th St.), which was granted Legacy Business status last year.

"While the Castro was unquestionably the center of local gay politics, the Folsom had become the sexual center," the draft proposal stated. 

Map via SF Planning 

Those venues, along with many others, fall within the proposed district, which would be bounded by Howard Street between 7th and the 101, 7th Street between Howard and Harrison, I-80 between 7th and Division streets, the 101 between I-80 and Howard Street, and the south side of Harrison Street between 7th and Morris street. 

“The district seeks to reestablish SoMa as a major destination for LGBTQ nightlife, and will seek to preserve, revitalize, or reopen the District’s historic venues, theaters, bars, cafes, and clubs,” the resolution stated.

The area is much smaller than it was in its heyday during the 1970s and 80s. And while the leather scene may have sparked moral outrage in the past, these days, the biggest threat to the area is displacement, SF Weekly noted. 

The Stud was granted Legacy Business status last year. | Photo: Kevin Y./Yelp

Along with preserving the cultural nightlife history of the neighborhood, the district would also recognize the area's significance as a refuge for LGBQT seniors and people living with HIV.

It would also aim to foster a supportive space for “the past, present, and future manifestation of LGBQT leather communities and resources.” 

If the resolution passes, expect more installations like Eagle Plaza at 12th and Harrison streets. The proposed open space pays homage to "the area's rich LGBTQ and leather cultural heritage."

The park is largely funded by an in-kind agreement with the developers of 1532 Harrison St., a proposed mixed-use building that would include 136 residential units and about 1,460 square feet of ground-floor retail. 

Proposed mixed-use building at 1532 Harrison St. | Image: 1532 Harrison

The resolution is currently with the Board of Supervisors' Land Use and Transportation Committee, which now has to wait 30 days after the introduction of the resolution before taking action on it. 


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