Walking Tour Needs You

The LEATHER & LGBTQ Cultural District is developing a Walking Tour of our special neighborhood, and we invite you to join in the project.

We want folks to send us photographs that evoke leather and queer life in South of Market San Francisco, past and present, and also to create for us original short written or spoken “essays”, to help us create a free Walking Tour App of Leathertown.  Send your items to Walking-Tour-Content@sflcd.org, or upload them here.  Please be sure to give us your contact info.

We will also need lots of volunteer help, including folks with special skills or life experiences. 

Full details below.      


How You Can Help

The easiest way to get involved is to attend a meeting of our Arts and Culture Committee.  The next meeting is set for Thursday, August 4, 2021, from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. Info at Facebook post. Join at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88470691792 or call 1 408 638 0968 US (San Jose) and enter Meeting ID: 884 7069 1792.  The proposed agenda can be viewed here 

But if Zoom Meetings are not your thing, we can still use your help, in two important ways:

1. Contribute “content”.  Here are the kind of things we are looking for:

          • Photos from your personal archives.  These will be most usable if:
            • They show the interior or exterior of a significant SOMA location, business or event;
            • You have full rights to the picture and are willing to give us the right to use it;
            • There are few or no identifiable people in the picture who might be hard to contact;
            • You are certain of the date and location when it was taken
          • Brief audio or video clips
            • This could be just you telling what you know about a place or event;
            • Or it could be an interview with an important community figure;
            • Or audio or video capturing an important or interesting event that took place in SOMA.
            • Be sure to include names, dates, and any other info you can.
            • It will be most useful if we can authenticate it in some way, and/or obtain rights if applicable.
          • Written notes
            • Describe a particular location in your own words.
            • Offer a personal recollection, or a “little-known fact” about a place.
            • Ideally, it should all be information that can be verified or authenticated by our historians.
            • If it’s just your own recollection, we may still include it, in the “myths and memories” category.
          • Essays
            • We have a lot of topics, both site-related and more general, about which very short essays need to be written.  Some possible topics are listed below., but let your own imagination and experience inspire you.
            • We want essays that offer insight into Leather Culture to our wandering tourist, or will make someone want to visit San Francisco.
            • Keep it under 2 minutes — the time it might take to walk one block.
              • That’s very hard, of course.  If you submit longer items, we can help you edit and condense them.
              • Or consider creating separate or nested topics.
            • Refer to any reference material you think useful.  Please do not copy from Wikipedia, Leatherpedia, or random Internet gossip.

      Send your items to Walking-Tour-Content@sflcd.org, or upload them here Please be sure to give us your full contact information.  

      The fine print:

      Please understand:  Our final product will need to be carefully scripted, meticulously checked for historical accuracy and rights ownership, and professionally produced.    So what you contribute might not be used in the tour.   But you might contribute a gem that brings our tour to life!  So thanks in advance.

      [Translate the following to Legalese]:  If you share a picture you yourself took, you are giving the LEATHER & LGBTQ Cultural District the right to use it in any form or format.  If you are sharing a picture taken by someone else, you are affirming that you know of no reason anyone would object to its being used.  (If you know the name of the photographer, the names of people depicted, or where the picture was first published, you need to provide that information.)  This applies roughly equivalently for other media.

      If you share your own original writing, you are giving the LEATHER & LGBTQ Cultural District the right to use it in any form or format. You consent to its being edited for length, historical accuracy, or any other reason.  Your sole compensation is being listed as a contributor (if your item is used).

      End of fine print.


      2. Volunteer or Refer Expertise.  As noted above, we will need voice actors, video editors, copy writers, audio engineers, Augmented Reality experts, and a great many other trained and experienced folks to make this Walking Tour a reality.   If you are or know someone who might be willing to volunteer their talents (or give us a substantial discount), please get in touch.

          • Provide names and whatever contact info you have, and be clear about their area of expertise, experience, etc.
          • If using your name might be helpful when we reach out to them, let us know if we can do that.


      Suggested Essay Topics

      • Lesbian Bars in SOMA and Beyond
      • BIPOC in Leather and Onyx Northwest
      • Women in SOMA History
      • Filipino Community and SOMA Pilipinas
      • Gay Asian and Pacific Islanders in SF, Asia nightclub
      • The Trans Community
      • Cultural Districts in San Francisco
      • The Leather Menace
      • Publishers and Censorship, Drummer Offices
      • Sex Work
      • Motorcycles
      • Leather
      • Photographers
      • Safety on the Streets
      • Safety in BDSM
      • Safety in Post-COVID Leathertown
      • Leather and Drag
      • The Importance of a Gathering Place
      • Auctions, Contests, and Other Leather Bar Antics
      • Safe, Sane and Consensual
      • What is Kink?
      • Clubs and Organizations in SOMA
      • Religion and Spirituality in SOMA
      • Active Military & Veterans in SOMA
      • Gentrification
      • Starting a Business in SOMA
      • The Politics of SOMA
      • Community Organizing in SOMA
      • Folsom / Howard Street Upgrades
      • Architectural Styles on Display in SOMA
      • Neighborhood History
      • Leathertown during COVID
      • Rebuilding after COVID
      • Visiting a Leather Bar
      • The Wicked Grounds Experience
      • An Anthropological View of Leather Sex
      • Consent
      • Bathhouses, Past and Future
      • Tenant Advocacy and Housing
      • Sexual Health and Resources
      • Sleeping Rough
      • Do You Party?
      • Driving and Parking in SF
      • Memories from Specific Events
      • Memories from Specific Venues

        What are our goals?

        • Our goal is to create a powerful  but simple way for folks to use their smartphone to explore our neighborhood on their own.
        • It should run on a smartphone, either as an app (on both Android and IOS) or as a “Web app” (requiring just a Web browser).
        • It should appeal to both locals and visitors.
        • It should be worth using more than once.
        • Using it when elsewhere (e.g. before visiting San Francisco) should also be possible, and should make folks want to visit us.
        • It should be fun and interesting for the casual user, but offer greater depth for those with an interest in the history of the Cultural District, its current activation, and its future.
        • It should, explicitly or implicitly, help the user to understand and appreciate “Leather Culture”.
        • Ultimately, it should offer a variety of tours for folks with specific needs or interests; however our initial project focuses on a single tour, lasting about one hour, and requiring a walk of no more than one mile.
        • The tour will ultimately be tied in to the sidewalk plaques which we are hoping to install in many locations of historic interest.  (For more about the plaques, click here.)
        • It would be nice if the app could know where the user is, either by aiming the camera at a plaque, or by using the phone’s GPS.
        • Users will be encouraged to take the tour as presented, from start to finish.  Doing so should present users with a storyline or arc.  But users who find themselves in a particular location should be able to get info about that location.
        • We expect to offer the tour free of charge; it is therefore almost essential to be able to offer some kind of value to local merchants, through simple ads, sponsorships, coupons, tie-ins,  “passport stamps” or other marketing gimmicks.
        • We must be able to edit the content quickly and easily.
        • Including links to a local event calendar or other existing online resources would be excellent.
        • We are interested in “augmented reality” features, such as the ability to aim your camera at a building and see the historical location “superimposed” over the present one.  We are doubtful, however, that we have enough relevant content to make that feature worth the cost and effort.
        • We want our tour to be accessible to folks with disabilities; any spoken text should also be available in written form, etc.  The user interface should have basic accessibility features built-in.
        • We will assume that the typical user has earbuds and is capable of safely using them while navigating city streets.  Video clips should be short, and intended for playback only at specific locations, not while walking.
        • Ultimately, we will have a lot more content than a user can absorb in one hour.  So it would be great to have some easy way for the user to tell the app if they have specific interests, or specific time constraints (or lack thereof), or to simply offer “digressions” on topics of special interest.
        • It would be of value for the user to be able to select “family friendly” or “adult” versions, and/or require age verification for adult content.
        • Translation services to convert content to other languages might be valuable, if affordable.

        Tour Route(s)

        We have set a route for our first (“proof of concept”) tour, walking from Eagle Plaza to 7th and Folsom (or vice versa).  The exact route  is detailed here.  Consider taking that walk yourself, keeping your eyes open and making a note of any interesting details that might be worth mentioning, or that spark questions in your mind.  Or suggest an alternate route if you like, especially linked to a “special interest” topic or audience.


          How To Proceed?

            If you are inspired to do help us with any of the above, we are enormously grateful.