San Fransisco To Hold Gay Sex Festival Despite City Declaring Emergency Over Monkeypox Outbreak

San Fransisco To Hold Gay Sex Festival Despite City Declaring Emergency Over Monkeypox Outbreak

San Francisco will hold an annual sexual festival popular among gay men this weekend even though the city declared a local health emergency over the Monkeypox outbreak earlier this week.

The “Up Your Alley” leather fetish festival, commonly called “Dore Alley,” scheduled for Sunday, is expected to bring thousands of people to the city’s SoMa area, featuring kink demonstrations, dancing, and shopping, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The annual event has been running since 1985, being canceled only once since then due to the COVID pandemic in 2020.

Some people who have attended the event in the past are having second thoughts this year due to the Monkeypox outbreak in San Francisco. The most recent data shows 257 confirmed cases in the city, and city leaders recently announced a public health emergency that will go into effect on August 1.

“The same population that’s being most affected by the disease is the same population that attends these events, most exclusively,” 29-year-old San Francisco resident David Harris said. “I just don’t even want to be here this weekend.”

Harris, who identifies as bisexual, told the Chronicle that he is frustrated with the group organizing the event, Folsom Street, for their apparent lack of concern around the disease. “I’ve been scanning their posts. They have yet to say a single word even mentioning the word ‘monkeypox.’ … It just feels utterly irresponsible,” Harris said.

Michael Davidson, a 40-year-old resident of the city who has gone to the “Dore Alley” festival multiple times in the past, said this year’s fair would be a Monkeypox “super-spreader event.” Davidson told Mercury News that even though he received a Monkeypox vaccine, he would be skipping this year’s festival.

While Monkeypox is not spread exclusively through sex, the disease is infecting gay men at a far higher rate than any other demographic. A new report from California showed that 91.7% of monkeypox cases in the state are in “[g]ay, lesbian, or same gender loving people,” while men make up 98.3% of all infections, The Daily Wire reported.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Monkeypox can spread through skin to skin contact that often happens through hugging, kissing, extended face-to-face contact, and sexual intercourse. Symptoms include fever, headache, cough, sore throat, and nasal congestion. The disease can also cause painful rashes and blisters.

Folsom Street Executive Director Angel Adeyoha attempted to dispel some of the fears about the festival moving on as planned and assured that “strong precautions” were being taken.

“It’s important to remember that not all viruses and infections are the same and they don’t all have the same impacts,” Adeyoha said. “Therefore all interventions don’t need to look the same.”

The San Francisco AIDS Foundation encouraged people to go to the gay sex fair while giving them tips on how to protect themselves during the festival. “We’ve heard from people who are worried about attending events out of fear of contracting monkeypox. We hope you partake while also taking steps to reduce your risk,” the AIDS Foundation said.

Its tips included “playing dress up,” “going to sex parties with people you know,” and being “picky about your sex partners.”

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