“Queers Hate Techies”: Gay Shame’s controversial ATA exhibit

All month, the phrase “Queers Hate Techies” has taken up residence in the window gallery at Artists’ Television Access (ATA) on Valencia and 21st. The words are printed on balloons, inscribed on a banner and written on stickers pasted to the glass.

It’s one of the radical activist group Gay Shame’s well-known anti-gentrification slogans; they have used it in graffiti and stencils across the city and, allegedly, to target the offices of Yes In My Backyard (YIMBY), a pro-housing development group. Now Gay Shame has brought the message to the Valencia Street storefront to continue the group’s long resistance against June’s Pride events, which, the group has said, serve corporate interests and should not represent the queer community.

A Gay Shame media contact (all members of the group identify themselves as Mary) wrote in an email, “what our balloons do is point out the real violence, the ways techies and YIMBYS vision is for a rich white SF, with cops on every corner and an Uber waiting out front… while the rest of us are evicted, locked up, murdered by cops or homelessness….”

It’s a message they will also spread during their annual Gay Shame Awards, held tonight at 1 Jose Sarria Ct. near 16th and Market streets, where they will pretend to celebrate “glorious gentrifying genocidal forces,” including local politicians and members of the Kardashian family.

Tessa Siddle, a member of the window gallery committee at ATA, said Gay Shame approached ATA months ago with the idea for the exhibit. “There’s been, I think, some feedback through our Twitter account, both pro and con,” Siddle said.

Some passersby said they have found “Queers Hate Techies” hurtful. Since the exhibit at ATA went up, they have taken to social media to criticize it, or to express their concern with the organization’s other actions, citing widespread vandalism and intimidation of those who disagree with them.

On social media site Nextdoor, some local residents called the exhibit “irresponsible” and “threatening,” while others said they wanted to see more art of this nature.

On Twitter, tech entrepreneur Laurie Voss tweeted a picture of a post-it on the window of the exhibit that changes it to read “Queers are Techies”:

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“Queerness is a politics, not a sexual identity,” Gay Shame responded in their email. “…. techies have all kinds of sexual and gender practices and identification, but if they are invested in the destruction of poor/working class/POC communities  through their drive to gentrify every inch of the Bay (and beyond), then they are the anthesis of ‘queer’.”

The organization refers to itself as a “virus in the system” and has existed since the early 2000s. Recently, it has advocated for the liberation of Michael Johnson, a black gay man sentenced to thirty years in a Missouri prison for transmitting HIV to another man. The group is also a long-time critic of gay marriage movements, calling marriage an oppressive institution.

Siddle acknowledged the window display is controversial. She added, “I don’t feel like it’s our place to police the tone of their exhibit.”

The exhibit in the ATA window will be up until the end of this month.

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8 Comments

  1. Tom Quill

    “they have used it in graffiti and stencils across the city and, allegedly, to target the offices of Yes In My Backdoor (YIMBY)”

    Are you serious with this

    • Didi Delgado

      OMG, talk about Freudian slip… or is it? Hilarious…

      On a serious note, this is the GOOD side of gentrification. Enjoy Antioch, losers.

  2. Lee Markosian

    Wait, who are the gentrifiers, if not these guys? The anti-YIMBY policies they champion directly produce “a rich white SF”, with soaring rents that lead to mass evictions and displacement and enrich wealthy owners.* Gay Shame might play Robin Hood at their dumb show, but in real life they’re on the side of the sheriff. Sad!

    *Compare to YIMBY Tokyo, where rents are a quarter of what they are here.

  3. Pete jones

    Loved it! Great to see the diversity of opinions in San Francisco! Rebellion and protest has been part of SF for decades! Glad to see it continuing!

  4. Eric Jones

    No, queers hate hate.

    If your speech is hating on all of one group indiscriminately, what is that called…? Find the allies and strive to educate the larger population with your culture and ideals – this has historically been the path of success.

    Hatred only divides and repels.

  5. Rabbit

    I came here trying to work out what the heck a “techie” is in this context, and I’m still lost…

  6. Ela

    I get quite sad when I walk by this exhibit (and their many other signs). I suppose it is free speech, but why use your freedom of speech like this? Why not use it to create an exhibit that gives suggestions for ways that we can improve life around here?

    I do not find divisive speech constructive, and around here where we have many complex problems, I crave constructive criticism and education about the potential solutions. Perhaps the storefront could be used for something like that next. That would be nice, I think.

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