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Jan 15, 21

Gay Shame Hexes the Condos

Report back from ‘Hex the Condos’ action by San Francisco based group, Gay Shame, a long running autonomous anti-capitalist queer liberation group.

by Tory

Gay Shame radical queer group extraordinary, a virus in the system, has been steadily organizing throughout this cursed pandemic. Resorting to online meetings, foregoing the pleasures of the sardonically funny in person meetings, Gay Shame has been particularly focused and creative. The Gay Shame twitter has been acerbic, bitter and enraged, calling out the white supremacy of the gentrifiers and the hypocrisy of the mayor and the so called progressive San Francisco board of stupervisors. There have been exquisitely beautiful revolutionary fliers circulated online. Gay Shame has been producing dramatic Podcasts, featuring the Marys’ screaming desires for abolition of police and prisons, calling out movement co-optation, expansion of mental health conservatorship aimed at disappearing the unhoused, and delving into reparations focusing on the theft of indigenous land and slavery, and emphasizing the murder of Black transwomen.

Early in the pandemic people responded with a specific mutual aid campaign to give money to unhoused people called Cash Not Conservatorship, and also raised money to provide quarters for the laundry machines in an SF single room occupancy hotel where people were left to fend for themselves. Gay Shame people participated in Defund the SF police and Hotels not Hospitals actions. The meetings remain open to new people with the exception of yimbys or cops.

Gay Shame called an action on October 30th named the Night of the Living Next Door. The chant was HEX THE CONDOS CURSE THE COPS GENTRIFIERS OFF THE BLOCK. In keeping with the creepy nature of Halloween people came in costume, of their favorite gentrifiers, a gruesome white gentrifier couple with an icky baby doll, a wicked nun, a green next door monster, a coopted anarchist yimby The action assembled at 24th and Mission street at the BART plaza, a strange macabre scene, the plaza reclaimed as our public space filled with wild costumes, people greeting each other ever so carefully, masked and distant, yet so thrilled to be there in the night, defying the social disorder of capitalism and patriarchy. Kate and Julie from LAGAI Queer Insurrection produced ghoulish propaganda projections on a huge graffitied wall adjacent to the BART plaza. National Lawyers Guild sent observers and we had a cool queer medic van from Queers United in Community Care (QUICC) to support us.

The plan was take the street through the Mission stopping at several key heinous places of gentrifier violence against the people, beginning with paprilka on 24th street, a yuppie restaurant known for its vitriolic racism. We spread out through the eerily covid quiet city street about one hundred militant strong, chanting down mission with radical music sounding from a bicycle sound system, classically including “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” First stop was 22nd street at the site of the burned out building, likely the result of landlord arson, one person dead, the rest of rent control tenants displaced forever. This dead lot abuts the obscenely expensive vida condos built in the center of this latinx community sold to techies wanting to live in urban grooviness, shuttled on giant google luxury buses to their tech campuses in silicon valley (except WFH during the covid). The march turned at 21st street to Valencia where we marched past the upscale outside dining which covid has opportunistically expanded. These tony restaurants have been claiming public space for years making pseudo parklets, from which they hound unhoused people. Now these invidious bourgeois eateries have extended out to the streets with bubbles of plastic and plexiglass filled with revelers in a time of death and destruction. These are the people basking in their entitlement and privilege, who work from home sheltered from covid in luxury condos, oblivious to work done by often black and brown “essential workers” who have no choice but to ride transportation and go to workplaces, exposed and unprotected from the virus. These self-serving elites harass and hate on unhoused people displaced by the condos out to the streets.

The demonstration took on a weird Fellini film like quality as we walked through this nightmare scape, we: vocal angry costumed, with banners, somewhat ragtail, catcalling, chanting; fancy diners: bemused, confused, slightly nervous not sure if we were the revolution or entertainment. They took lots of cellphone selfies with us as backdrop. We continued on past the notorious mission police bunkeresque station, barricaded but notably and oddly silent. Clearly the police had decided to leave us alone, even unresponsive to some loud vigorous banging on the doors. From there we moved to the Manny’s, possibly the world’s most annoying gentrifier wine bar, object of a year long weekly boycott action calling out Manny’s slimy pretense at creating community venue, trying to control progressive discourse and in addition being a Zionist. This struggle underscored the relationship with displacing the local mission community with u.s.-backed Israeli colonization/occupation of Palestine. Finally we ended at the 16th Street BART station plaza, next to the site of the planned “Monster in the Mission,” a 330 unit condo building, at last defeated by the community, led by the Plaza 16 Coalition after a seven year battle with the evil maximus corporation.

Gay Shame is important because it is an uncompromised radical queer grassroots group. We need people who hold the very radical edge, that are completely honest about the complexity of the hypocrisy that permeates our lives. Groups like LAGAI, QUIT! and Gay Shame who are not part of the non profit world, are anarchist, non hierarchical, honest about the relentless effects of privilege and oppression in our daily lives, use consensus and community building principles, help us remember what exactly we are fighting for. The existence of this defined revolutionary edge helps me push the limits in all the communities I am part of.


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