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September 06, 2016

'Ask First' Campaign Again Brings 'Consent' To Folsom Street Fair

SAN FRANCISCO—Ask First is a sticker campaign started in 2014 to create awareness about consent. The campaign consists of eye-catching stickers and temporary tattoos that simply read ‘Ask First,’ reminding people to ask for permission before touching or engaging with another person. The project originated at the San Francisco Folsom Street Fair, an annual BDSM event designed to celebrate alternative sexualities and community. Public sexuality is a huge part of what makes the Folsom Street Fair important. But all too often consent gets erased in sexualized environments, especially ones held publicly. With the intent of creating a safer space for all, Bay Area sex worker and public health worker Maxine Holloway founded this simple yet effective sticker project. “If people can understand the importance of consent in alternative and sexualized environments, this will assists our entire culture in understanding that there are no caveats when it comes to consent," Holloway said. "Whether you are in your home, walking down the street, in a bar, or at a BDSM fair, consent must always be present. This campaign promotes consent and fights against sexualized violence everywhere.” Last year, Ask First showed how important consent needs to be by hosting a booth at the Folsom Street Fair. They successfully distributed 10,000 stickers, 2,000 temporary tattoos, and took over 1,000 portraits in their 'Consent Photo Booth.' During the event and over the following weeks, Ask First received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback and appreciation from the community for making consent so visible. "One thing that’s often misunderstood in mainstream coverage of kink culture is that BDSM has consent at its core," noted Cat Donohue of Bitch Media. "Learning the rules of consent is important for everyone trying to get kinky in a shared space. Non-consensual touching is strictly off-limits at the Folsom Street Fair." The project continues to move beyond Folsom. The Ask First campaign has spread to college campuses, Pride celebrations and BDSM events across the country. Stickers can be found all over the Bay area, up and down the California coast, as well as at events in New York City, Boston, Texas, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Georgia and more. Most of these connections were sparked by people seeing the Ask First project at the Folsom Street Fair. The momentum is building and many communities want consent to be visible. This year Ask First plans to double their presence at the Folsom Street Fair by passing out 20,000 stickers to the 400,000 attendees. The campaign are asking the public to advocate for consent by contributing to its Indiegogo campaign. Funds go directly to printing the stickers, which are the heart and soul of this project. Those who support the Ask First campaign may stop by the Ask First booth to pick up their stickers as they navigate this year's Folsom Street Fair, which will be taking place on Sunday, September 25.

 
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