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Arts + CultureOutpouring of love counters LGBT mural arson in Mission

Outpouring of love counters LGBT mural arson in Mission

Hundreds gather outside Galeria de la Raza in the Mission to show strength, resilience of LGBT and Latino communities.

48 Hills: Galeria de la Raza unity rally
A unity rally participant holds up a sign distributed by Galeria de la Raza.

By Marke B. 

JULY 1, 2015 — “As a queer Latino man living in the Mission, this act of violence affects me personally. It cuts to the core of my identity,” Supervisor David Campos remarked before a crowd of hundreds gathered outside Galeria de la Raza for a unity rally after a Chicano LGBT mural had been burned by suspects still at large. The mural, installed by the Los Angeles Maricon Collective, showed two same-sex couples and a trans man in a cholo cultural context.

Beneath the blackened, torched-away surface, you could glimpse evidence of two previous spray-paint defacements. Someone had placed flowers and candles at the mural’s base.

48 Hills: Galeria de la Raza mural unity rally
Someone had placed candles and flowers at the base of the burned mural.

“Our natural instinct in these situations is for retribution,” Campos continued. “But if anything, the recent Supreme Court decision and the outpouring of support around the country have taught us that love always wins, and we are on the side of what’s right. Love is supreme. We must counter this act of of violence against an entire community with love.

“This community is hurting,” Campos continued, referring to the Mission-based Latino community. “But an incredible spirit of resilience is growing within us. We’ve seen in the past two months the power of the people to march on City Hall and speak with one voice about what is happening to our neighborhood. This is no time to let these kinds of acts deter us from our larger goal of unity and strength.”

Campos addresses the crowd outside Galeria de la Raza
Campos addresses the crowd outside Galeria de la Raza

“I’m still shaking,” Ani Rivera, the Galeria’s Executive Director, told the crowd. “This was a direct attack on us and our neighbors.

“The person who did this thinks this sends a message that queer Chicanos don’t exist here. Well, I’m here to tell you we have always existed, and we will continue to exist in the Mission and everywhere!

“This act only points to the fact that more dialogue within the community is required,” Rivera said. More than ever we must be united, we must exercise patience, and we must truly listen and respond to each other to reach a place of peace and reconciliation. ”

Galeria de la Raza executive director Ani Rivera thanked her staff for keeping its cool in the face of the attacks.
Galeria de la Raza executive director Ani Rivera thanked her staff for keeping its cool in the face of the attacks.

“This was a mean, childish, upsetting act,” former state senator and Mission schoolteacher Tom Ammiano added. “But we must not enable hatred by adding more hatred. We must embrace those who did this, in order to educate them. Look what happened in South Carolina. The families of those killed lined up to forgive the killer.

“Forgiveness doesn’t mean no consequences. It doesn’t mean no justice will be done here. But we must echo the call for restorative justice that doesn’t just lead to punishment, but to healing and moving forward stronger than ever as a community.”

Robert Hernandez of Our Mission: No Eviction introduced his young soon Tito as someone who is growing up in the neighborhood and learning about art from Galeria de la Raza and people like its co-founder, René Yañez, a Mission fixture and artist who himself is facing eviction.

Roberto Hernandez and young Tito.
Roberto Hernandez and young Tito.

“When I was growing up in this barrio, we loved everybody we grew up next to, including the queer community. There was no difference. Everything we did in the Mission was ‘con amor,’ with love, ‘con puro amor.’

“Now, the Mission is a flashpoint for anger and frustration, and we must ensure that the anger — of 10,000 people in the city, of 8,000 latino families being displaced in the past decade — does not tear us apart.

“We must remain united against displacement,” Hernandez told the cheering crowd. “We are going to pout a moratorium on luxury condos on the ballot and start to heal this community. What the supervisors failed to do, the people themselves will do. Viva La Misión!”

The seen outside Galeria de la Raza.
The seen outside Galeria de la Raza.

There were other rousing speakers: René Yañez spoke of the history of queer arts in the Mission, including Marga Gomez, Culture Clash, and Tom Ammiano himself, as a comedian at the Valencia Rose. He spoke of “liberating” the billboard on which the mural was displayed from its corporate owners when he helped start Galeria de la Raza in the 1970s.

Dr. Estele Garcia from Instituto Familiar de la Raza reminded the crowd that “we are not defined by acts of violence, but by how resilient we are in the face of adversity. We must find a balance and work toward peace.”

And young trans man activist Lucindo drew a powerful metaphor from the mural’s destruction: “When I first saw this mural, it was the first time I had seen a trans Latino man depicted publicly. I couldn’t believe the scars on his chest were like the scars on my own, from the surgery that helped me to finally be myself. Now, when I see the scars on this burned mural itself, I also recognize the scars on myself — scars of 25 years of fear, confusion, and hurt. Now, more than ever, we need fierce queer brown and black allies to bridge our communities and stand up for ourselves and our right to exist.”


Marke B.
Marke Bieschke is the publisher and arts and culture editor of 48 Hills. He co-owns the Stud bar in SoMa. Reach him at marke (at) 48hills.org, follow @supermarke on Twitter.
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  1. Pfft, what’s this supposed to mean, Troll? Is it supposed to negate the realities of those who’ve been jumped, sliced, and quartered in that Mestizo-ridden and gang-banger filled slum? Grow a heart AND some sack.

  2. I knew it! Get on Bus 48 and meet me in China Basin where I dare you to abuse me to my face as you have on the Internet.

    In one posting you’re residing in the massive crime scene known as Mexico; the next you are living in a Mestizo-Latino slum in San Francisco, Mexifornia full of Nortenos and Surenos and Vipers, You don’t have a home in Brasil, right, and merely pretend to be something you are not, right?

    Again, meet me at the Cal-Train Station at China Bay where I’ll give your Meth-smoking and cock-sucking mouth all the time you want to verbally abuse me.

  3. Doesn’t change the fact that you see Hispanics as being violent and wish them to be more violent, at least when it suits your cause

  4. Long acting hallucinogens is what we’ve got here.

    Maybe you should try to fly off of a building while you’re non compos mentis?

  5. You should duck and hope that nobody notices. I caught you advocating that Hispanics become more violent

    Fascinating slip by you

  6. I was thinking of your characterization of the mafia as a “D9 machine.”

    The only problem with using that term is that machines organize to win elections.

    This cadre organizes to lose elections so that they continue to get paid by the City.

  7. You clearly stated disappointment that Hispnaics were getting violent about gays in the same way they get violent about other issues.

    I want to understand that better. Please educate me. Why is their anger and violence important to you?

  8. Nobody will ever purchase a home in the Mission again unless the City lets developers do what they want.

  9. Seriously, though we may know about (and sometimes agree with, to some extent) your grudge against the D9 machine, doesn’t the cognitive dissonance involved in being a condo-owning transplant to the Mission arguing against giving transplants to the Mission a chance to buy condos give you some kind of a headache?

    I don’t understand it.

  10. You were complaining that Hispancis didn’t react violently here

    I was curious how violent you’d like them to be against gay white male tech workers who buy condos in the Mission thereby driving out poor people of non-whiteness

  11. The gentrification problem

    but if you’re saying there isn’t a problem, then we are in agreement

  12. Looks like someone has been released from the adult day program early and without his meds after suffering this latest episode.

  13. So your complaint is that Hispanics have not been violent enough to drive out white gay male tech workers who gentrify the Mission like you did?

  14. Condos in the Mission are the problem?

    Then why did you buy one thereby compounding the problem?

  15. “We must find a balance and work toward peace.” — Dr. Estele Garcia

    What does this mean? We have to find a balance between what and what, between homophobic violence and our liberation?

  16. Campos thought that he could coast to election in AD17 by catering to developers and the “politically powerful” nonprofits while ignoring his constituents. Campos also said that the Mission has been in crisis for the last few months. What he meant by that is that since he lost his election, Now, All Of A Sudden, there is a crisis.

    To this crowd, affronts conveyed by language are significant and consequential and demand a stern response. Much of the identity politics left thinks that language makes reality. This is magical thinking that has gone mainstream.

    But actual real live physical consequences such as condos (before Campos’ loss) or destruction of art are given a pass as lesser crimes to be met with love and deference.

    On the hierarchy of oppressions, queer oppression rates below economic and race oppression with this crowd. Note that google buses are not met with love and understanding. Note that white techies are not met with love and unity. “Unity under us” is what the message is.

  17. “As a queer Latino man living in the Mission”

    I thought Campos lived in Bernal Heights?

  18. When the affront is racist or classist, the response is not one of love, compassion and unity.

    But when the affront is homophobic, then that is a lesser affront and demands love, compassion and unity.

    What can we expect when queer migration histories to the Mission are not deemed legitimate?

  19. I’m a gay white male who has lived in the Mission for 25 years and I’ve never experienced a anti-gay hate crime.

  20. Yes, homophobia has always existed in many communities throughout San Francisco, It is easy to concentrate on this one statement yet the overall message among other speakers was a call for unity. Unity, forgiveness. Yes, frustration among the Latino community also exists regarding the gentrification of the Mission. When you are forced out of your place of residence and your corner stores are replaced by chi-chi restaurants, frustration, feelings of powerlessness occur. When the questionable statement of one individual is discussed above and beyond what other speakers shared in their honest, truthful speeches, this is frustrating. UNITY, FORGIVENESS, EDUCATION, COMMUNICATION, RESTORATIVE JUSTICE – these were the issues discussed at the Unity Rally. To emphasize anything else is simply false, short sighted and frankly missing the point.

  21. There is circumstantial evidence that this was likely was done by cholos. If so, it it has NOTHING to do with displacement.

    But hey, it’s easier to blame things on gentrification, rather than looking into the dark heart of Latino homophobia. Hernandez can go screw himself.

  22. “When I was growing up in this barrio, we loved everybody we grew up next to, including the queer community.”

    Man, that’s a load of horseshit if I ever heard it. There were plenty of anti-gay hate crimes in the Mission long before anyone in the current tech wave ever showed up there, and anyone saying otherwise is just whitewashing. It takes some serious gall to say this is about gentrification.

  23. Hernandez is a racist. He was a disgrace at the BOS meeting, even after they cut his mic he kept ranting and raving about white people. He almost destroyed Carnaval as well. F off.

  24. Yes folks, the multiple defacements, and most recently arson, of this mural is all about the mission moratorium. No matter that the overall latino percentage in SF has gone up, we should continue to highlight that some of these latino families have moved into other neighborhoods. It’s more important that we maintain a cohesive narrative than actually address the real problems.

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