FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 5/30/14
WE’RE #NOTPROUD: MAJOR PRIDE EVENT CELEBRATES, PROFITS FROM PRISON VIOLENCE
OFFICIAL SF PRIDE ORGANIZATION ENDORSES THE EVENT
San Francisco-based pornography company kink.com, in association with event planner and San Francisco Entertainment Commissioner Audrey Joseph, is throwing “the biggest Pride party in San Francisco’s history” on Saturday, June 28, 2014. The party, “WE PARTY: PRISON OF LOVE,” fetishizes prison sexual assault, a form of violence that primarily affects low-income people of color, particularly LGBTQ people. In an official marketing communication, promoters write, “What kind of trouble will 3000 of the world’s hottest men get into when in lockdown? Solitary confinement, showers, jailbreak, love and lust, freedom and confinement. All on display in the penal colony.”
“WE Party: Prison of Love” is the work of a Madrid, Spain LGTBQ events promoter. “WE Party: Prison of Love” events will be held around the world. But the theme plays very differently in the country with the world’s leading incarceration rate, representing 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the global incarcerated population. According to scholar Michelle Alexander, the U.S. “imprisons a larger percentage of its black population than South Africa did at the height of apartheid.”
This event makes light of the realities of incarceration that the most marginalized people in the LGBTQ community face:
The two 2 leading risk factors for prisoner rape are previous sexual abuse and being LGBT.
Incarcerated homosexual and bisexual men are sexually assaulted at rates 10 times higher than their heterosexual counterparts.
The federal definition of “rape” didn’t even include men or non-vaginal penetration until 2010. Men assaulted in prison were not considered rape victims by the U.S. Department of Justice until 2010.
Incarcerated trans women in men’s prisons report rates of sexual assault nearly 13x greater than among groups of other people.
Yet organizers will profit handsomely: Tickets have sold out at the $50 and $60 level, and remaining tickets range from $75 to $175. 3,000 men are expected to attend
Joseph, SFPride, and kink.com have belittled critics who have asked the organizers to reconsider this theme, charging that they just don’t understand BDSM and kink. This reaction evades the issue they have been called out on. Critics are not concerned so much with kink as they are with kink being used as an excuse for fetishing rape and violence.
Likewise, the complicated history of prison fantasies in gay BDSM and leather communities does not excuse the presentation of this event. The sharp rise in mass incarceration in the past 30 years changes the context of this subculture. While it is certainly appropriate for individuals to participate in scenes, or even larger events, that explore prison fetishes, throwing a major event billed as the city’s largest Pride party is inappropriate.
On Twitter, @SFPride responded by tweeting a link to a Wikipedia article on sexual roleplay and saying, “The good news is that sexual diversity doesn’t need to be understood to be celebrated.”
kink.com, which is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the San Francisco Armory building with this “Pride event,” tweeted under the event handle, @pridethearmory, that “I guess no one has ever been to Folsom, Black Party or Southern Decadence - too busy being politically correct.”
And Joseph has responded to email inquiries with the statement, “I … regret that you do not see the value in being a prisoner of love.”
We urge concerned community members to take action by writing to the organizers and by attending an official SF Pride board meeting on June 3, 2014. Queer people are also tweeting on this and other subjects under the hashtag #NotProud, started by @DarkMatterRage.
More information is available at boycottsfpride.tumblr.com.