TGIJP’s response to the Armory’s Prison of Love party

and signed by 2014 Pride marshal Miss Major:

The Prison Industrial Complex and the incarceration of generations of people of color, gender variant, trans people, and queer people is not a sexy trope to throw a play party around. It’s not that we don’t love sex, sex parties, sex workers, and kink. It’s that we love it as much as we love justice, and are appalled by the casual use of the Prison Industrial Complex, which destroys the lives of millions of people and kills thousands every year, as a party theme …

We are not interested in yucking anyone’s yum or shaming anyone who has fantasies or fetishes about ideas of this real-life violence. We are not interested in censorship or policing anyone’s sex life. We are interested in public space and party themes that get us closer to liberation from systemic and administrative violence and do not recreate a culture that normalizes or continues our oppression. Our push back is about navigating the legal and extra-legal targeting and criminalization of our communities.

thorsockrock

thorsockrock:

jacqui shine is on the ball calling out SF Pride.

[Tweets read:

If you think prison is a joke, you have never been & don’t know anyone who’s incarcerated and you don’t fear being arrested.

FACT: Women are sexually assaulted in prison at 3x the rate for men.  

FACT: Half of all sexual abuse in prison is committed by staff.

FACT: 2 leading risk factors for prisoner rape: previous sexual abuse and being LGBT.

FACT: 1 in 8 youth detainees are assaulted. Trans youth? Rates are 9X HIGHER.

FACT: over 200,000 inmates are sexually abused annually.

FACT: LGBT adults and juveniles are primary targets of prison sex abuse.

FACT: Homosexual and bisexual men are victimized at rates 10 times higher than heterosexual males.

FACT: The federal definition of “rape” didn’t even include men or non-vaginal penetration until 2010.

FACT: Percentage of estimated false rape reports annually: 5%.

Prison rape survivors’ stories (WARNING: graphic content):

Please circulate widely!

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.

ACTION: Attend an SF Pride board meeting.

"Public Board meetings take place the first Tuesday of every month. Meetings for the 2013-2014 fiscal year are:

October 1, November 5, December 3, January 7, February 4, March 4, April 1, May 6, June 3, July 1, August 5, September 2

Unless noted, all meetings take place at the San Francisco Pride Office, at 1841 Market Street, Fourth Floor, please enter around the corner at 30 Pearl Street.”

FAQ: Why are you demonizing a kink?

We’re not. 

Okay, people have sexual fetishes related to prison fantasies. That’s just true. And, as they say, “your kink’s not my kink and your kink is okay.” What is problematic, however, is holding a major public event meant to attract 3,000 people and advertising it as a centerpiece of San Francisco Pride Weekend—and then aggressively and rudely defending it to critics. That shows real contempt for and ignorance of the ways that incarceration disproportionately affects low-income people of color and the ways that sexual abuse in prison disproportionately affects LGBT people. 

ACTION: Contact event organizers

Contact event organizers to protest this scheduled event. Email pr@kink.com, info@freshsf.com, info@audreyjoseph.com, and info@sfpride.org. 

Here’s a sample letter, facts about the prison industrial complex, how it affects LGBT people, survivors’ stories (TW: graphic details on sexual assault) and stats on prison sexual abuse. Use or include any you find powerful. 

To the event producers of the SF Pride “Prison of Love” event:

I’m writing to ask you to reconsider the wildly inappropriate theme you’ve chosen for this year’s Pride party. 

It’s well-known that mass incarceration disproportionately affects low-income people, people of color, and LGBT people. It’s EQUALLY well-known that for many decades, LGBT people have been and still are criminalized on the basis of their sexual and gender identities. This is a real issue in our community. 

Some facts:

  • LGBT teens comprise as much as 15% of the general population in juvenile justice facilities; among girls alone, 27% are lesbian or bisexual.
  • LGBT young people and adults face harsher penalties from the justice system. LGB people face higher rates of abuse and assault in prison.
  • 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. 

I could go on, but this issue is real and it hurts people in our community, including families, loved ones, and chosen families of the incarcerated. It’s not funny. It’s not sexy. Prison rape is not sexy. 

This theme is hurtful, demeaning, and offensive. It capitalizes on the stories, bodies, voices, and lives of our most vulnerable community members. Please don’t throw this party.

Thank you,

YOUR NAME