San Francisco leaders vote to create cultural district for leather, LGBTQ

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday to add another cultural district to a growing list of neighborhoods they want to promote and preserve. It's part of the LGBT community you may not be aware of.

Everyone knows the Castro, but now another LGBTQ neighborhood is getting official recognition.The South of Market street area where the Folsom Street Fair showcases the leather community, a distinct part of the gay community. The city believes its decades long history should be preserved and protected, as development rapidly transforms the landscape.

Jonathan Schroder is general manager of Mr. S Leather, a neighborhood shop that has catered to the leather community since 1979. Schroder applauds the designation. "Just having some recognition that this has history and as people move in to it, to recognize there was something here before them" he says.

Other supporters who showed up at a Supervisors' committee hearing last week, are also hopeful the leather district will mean access to city funds and community input in future developments. Geoff Benjamin owns the Oasis nightclub. He wants to make sure the community doesn't lose its cultural heritage as it gentrifies.

"We have a tension with the tech economy and an older creative economy so I think we need to move forward without losing what we've treasured."

The resolution which unanimously passed today was co-sponsored by Supervisors Jane Kim and Jeff Sheehy. Sheehy acknowledges other cities might smirk at the idea of a leather LGBTQ cultural district but he believes it "represents the finest of what we are as San Franciscans." He says "we're really trying to preserve those vital parts of the LGBT community that have been so central to us being able to participate the way we have in the life of the city."

Various city departments and community representatives will now begin working on a strategic plan.
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