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”:
I’m just gonna put one of these up every day until they take it down. pic.twitter.com/9QLrBQHVTL
— Laurie Voss (@seldo) June 8, 2017
“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.