A meetup space for queer people “accessible to every ‘letter’ plus more” apparently plans to move into the space where Italian restaurant Farina was evicted after its liquor license was seized by the state last summer.
Yass, a kind of social club and co-working space for LGBTQ people, is planning to open in the Mission sometime in the spring. Though its founders have been mum on a specific location, a rendering published in the Guardian on Thursday shows that the intended space is 3560 18th St. at Dearborn, a fact quickly picked up by various San Francisco observers on Twitter.
Yass has attracted attention because it is funded by a company co-founded by Peter Thiel, a Silicon Valley magnate and billionaire who also backed President Donald Trump.
The proposal has therefore been met with some skepticism and concerns about exacerbating gentrification. A rapidly changing neighborhood has already seen several LGBT spaces shuttered, including near the apparent new location of Yass. The city’s last lesbian bar, the Lexington Club, closed in 2015, and the former lesbian bar Amelia’s, now the Elbo Room, is expected to relocate as the building is developed.
“Yass will turn us into a real fucking community,” a testimonial on the company’s site boasts.
While space has shrunk, a vibrant LGBT community certainly exists in San Francisco.
“I want to know who they’re talking about because we have a community, alive and thriving,” said Ani Rivera, executive director of Galería de la Raza, a gallery and events space that frequently hosts events and exhibits work by and about queer communities. She called on the community to focus instead on supporting existing organizations. “Now more than ever, as we’re seeing these spaces, we have to protect what we do have.”
The fact that the club comes with a membership fee also didn’t go over well.
“When we have the lives of trans women and the trans community still at the margins, that they need support … how is this accessible to the most marginalized folks?” Rivera asked. “It’s really difficult to be supportive and not think that they’re adding to more of displacement and gentrification happening in our community when they’re really not working in the community to make a space.”
Rivera reacted to the placement of the space almost directly across from the Women’s Building, a decades-old nonprofit feminist organization rooted in lesbian activism, with particular chagrin.
“That’s the piece that makes me almost cringe, is how tone-deaf they are to the community, coming in, and the historical legacy,” she said.
An email to Yass for comment was not immediately returned.
What, you ask, is happening to the old Farina space? A Peter Thiel-funded private club for gays called Yass https://t.co/P99q7h5VIM
— Jonathan Kauffman (@jonkauffman) December 7, 2017
“Tran said he was not ready to announce Yass’s exact location in the Mission” – it’s clear from the rendering it’s at 18th and Dearborn, across the street from the Women’s Building, former site of Farina, which closed after a history of wage theft.https://t.co/9Hx1daWGSb
— Larry-bob (@larrybobsf) December 7, 2017