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.

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5 Comments

  1. “The fact that the club comes with a membership fee also didn’t go over well.”

    The mission has very little for gay people. Just because something costs money, doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. Think of this like a familiy restaurant serving an ethnic cuisine. You have to pay to eat there, but you feel comfortable going because people there are like you.

    Even in SF, being gay can still be very uncomfortable in many places all throughout the city.

  2. I’m queer and wouldn’t set foot in any club founded by or funded by Ayn Randian sociopath Peter Thiel. This is a man that gleefully gloats about creating total monopolies and has 100% disdain for humanity. No integrity and no ethics, doesn’t matter if you are gay or not. Frankly, I don’t understand what he’s doing supporting any kind of “community” space since he has no concept what community is and his very existence is anti-thetical to the idea of community, which involve Communing with Others and sacrificing self in service of a broader aim as opposed to sacrificing all of humanity so that you can line your pockets with a few more nickles. Sickening human being.

    1. Hey its his idea and his dime and its a business venture so I’m not sure exactly where your anger is coming from. And here’s another revelation, the gay community does not own the concept of community … don’t like it then don’t join its as simple as that. But I’m hazarding a guess that there are plenty of gays who in fact would welcome this and flock to join.

  3. Regardless of your personal opinions of the ‘man’ Peter Thiel the fact is that he is a very successful entrepreneur who has identified a business opportunity and now wishes to exercise his right to spend his money as he sees fit on said business venture.

    So what if its a club with a membership, guess what there are all kinds of clubs where you pay to participate. If he thinks that there is an opportunity to create a space that offers a different kind of engagement and/or networking opportunity for the gay community then so be it. And in a space that is NOT displacing anyone or anything other than a upscale Italian restaurant that screams gentrification.

    I for one (and I’m beginning to hear this from many others in the Mission) am becoming increasingly concerned verging on angry about individuals and special interest groups who take it upon themselves to co-opt an identity and purport to speak for all of us.

    No one owns the word community and if Thiel wants to create his version of it then so be it. News flash … if you don’t like the club don’t join … its a very simple equation.

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