Westboro Baptist Church protest turned into Folsom Street Fair advertisement 

When the virulently anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church showed up in downtown San Francisco earlier this week, Folsom Street Fair organizers knew exactly how to respond.

"We picked up some posters and ran out there and photo-bombed," said Demetri Moshoyannis, executive director of Folsom Street Events, which organizes the 30-year-old fetish and leather fair. "They usually expect people to protest them, but not to use them as photo backdrops for amusement purposes."

The pictures -- which show gleeful photo-bombers holding up sexy ads for the Folsom Street Fair next to dowdy protesters with signs saying "Same-Sex Marriage Dooms Nations," among other things -- have been a hit online.

Fair staff made a note when the church -- known for protesting gay rights at funerals of troops and other events -- launched a tour of protests against tech companies, which it condemns for supporting gay rights.

"We've been in the same neighborhood with Twitter since before Twitter got there," Moshoyannis said, and organizers sprang to action when the church showed up Tuesday.

Moshoyannis said the photo-bombers weren't worried about giving more publicity to the Westboro clan.

"Given our core audience, most people already know about Westboro Baptist Church and their tactics," he said. "This is just our way of juxtaposing their message against something they would probably hate most in the world."

Commenters on the festival's Facebook page seemed to agree.

"Love the ability to free speech on free speech," one person wrote.

Another person commented on a picture of Shirley Phelps, daughter of late church founder and bigotry buff Fred Phelps, holding a "Repent or Perish" sign.

" I thought for a sec it said "Repent or Fetish," the commentor quipped, "which would be an easy choice."

The Folsom Street Fair is Sept. 21.


SoMa StrEat Food Park and FunCheapSF are holding a Robin Williams Free Mini Film Festival on Saturday and Sunday, including free screenings of "Mrs. Doubtfire," "Good Will Hunting" and more on 11th Street in San Francisco. ... "World of Warcraft" is creating a character to honor the memory of Robin Williams, who was a big fan of the online role-playing game.


Actress Jennifer Lawrence ("Hunger Games") is 24. ... Actor Ben Affleck ("Argo") is 42. ... Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu ("Babel") is 51. San Francisco artist Mari Bianca Tepper is 66. ... Singer Tom Johnston of The Doobie Brothers is 66. ... Journalist Linda Ellerbee is 70 ... Actress Rose Marie ("The Dick Van Dyke Show") is 91.

Got scoops or Bay Area celebrity gossip? Email scoop@sfexaminer.com.

About The Author

Giselle Velazquez

Giselle Velazquez was born and raised in the shadow of San Francisco's Diamond Heights and now lives in the shadow of South San Francisco's Sign Hill. She has written for publications such as The S.F. Examiner, Ventura County Star, and the S.F. Bay Guardian.
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