Apr 9, 2011

taking care of business in the gay bay, staying one step ahead of the yelp-pocalypse.

a lot is up for me right now. this city and the rest of it.

one. my girlfriend, who is a high school teacher is dealing with some intense collisions between homophobia and racism staged through a shit-show of multiculturalized admin fumbles that assume a liberal tolerance of homo life but not without re-amassing racist assumptions, compounded through a general abdication of administrative responsibility that relocates the onus of dealing with bullshit onto basically, the queer dealing with homophobia. without being able to say too much about this, it's just really infuriating to watch white admin treat homophobia among staff of color as anachronistic, and the views and actions of people of color as external to the liberal, whitened, multiculturalism of an institution and its progress rather than dealing in a way remotely becoming of their salaries. the good news? my gf has serious skills and dedication and worked with all involved to reconcile this in a way that is accountable to her students, herself, and the people she works with, and manages to locate overcoming homophobia somewhere on the terrain of shared commitments to justice rather than alienating, liberal progress narratives.

two. i’ve been spending some time sorting through effects and responses with a friend who was trans-bashed in the mission last week. while on the one, the ability of this friend to politicize and direct responses, locate healing and transformation in a world while at the same time not forgetting herself and her own needs is teaching me a lot by example. at the same time, i am feeling aware of the eagerness of a gay-stablishment to make an example of the city’s competent application of anti-hate law enforcement strategies that can locate all problems of queer safety with a few, easily pathologized and criminalized bad characters without lending acknowledgement of the (compounding) issues that put queers--no less trans women--at risk, starting with the same increasing criminalization and policing. hello, sit/lie? yet, i’m realizing that no great ideas about community-determined responses as alternatives to state responses to violence seem to capture the fact that sometimes the state just responds without request, and with serious constraining effects on our ability to determine our own responses. btw, for info about supporting this friend, check here.

three. i’ve been looking for apartments. in the mission district, where i’ve lived for the last five years. my own race and class privilege, as well as having been pretty stable in an apartment with good neighbor and landlord relations for several years, have insulated me from the rental-market side of the ongoing epic of san francisco becoming a sanctuary city for the rich. the long and short of it is: we've been rejected for lots of apartments and haven't moved. maybe this isn’t so strange, but as someone who has never offered to lay down so much for rent, i really had no idea how cut-throat this process was, or that when one actually agrees to pay what they ask and qualifies, that you can still wind up without an apartment again and again.

this is generally how the terrifying process has gone so far: mercury willing, receive craigslist and padmapper alerts through a certain mobile apple device all day. read lots of ads that note their preferred proximity to google shuttles and new restaurants. call all decently affordable options immediately. show up at odd times for open houses lasting 15 minutes alongside a dozen other people and turn in exhaustive printed portfolios that include everything but a copy of our birth certificates. cringe as all white, all straight (no exaggeration) couples and dot-com workers show off offer letters from pay pal, apple, google, and zynga, tell their love-at-first sight stories from undergrad days at elite colleges, and talk endlessly about their appreciation for the sf 'cultural scene' to prospective landlords. get rejected again and again and feel ambivalent slash awful over compounding circumstances of who is already not among these white, professional-class, childless couples (we are among these) and being the only queer couple slash being women who work in the public sector and don’t make dot-com male-earner wages and want to live in a neighborhood where we work with young people slash that queer women have lived in for some thirty to forty years but realizing instead we are getting rejected for apartments that have no heat.

it is producing some intense ambivalence about being here for me. i feel super connected to this city, politically invested, involved in the lives of young people i work with, and able to think experimental queer adulthoods (i have earthquake plans that include people a gay mini-generation younger). i want to live here (why i don’t move back to oakland is a whole separate reflection). on the other, the apartment hunting and my recent practice of coffee shop studying alongside start-up workers have left me ultra-aware of how this city is increasingly (okay, its been going on for a minute) designed for this set of people that move through the world as though they were constructing one endless, giant, offensive yelp review. (munira sent me a really good example of this today re: the terrifying and amazing Lemi Ponifasio dance performance we saw on thursday). there’s a lot to love, but i can’t help but sometimes look around, survey the damage, and think, “shit is hitting the fan, and i’m going to be stuck alongside people whose worldly relations function like a yelp review? am i sure this is this a good idea?”

i suppose part of what commitment looks like is intervening on the same evaluative and consumptive impulses by sticking around for what needs to be done. which is why i’m feeling inspired these days by long time queer activists like tommi mecca, who after so many years of seeing the remaking/dismantling of a queer politic in this city are still out there, working for housing justice, mobilizing folks, and building meaningful connections with young people.

which brings me to four. the twitter deal. a bunch of folks have already spoken well to this being a queer issue as it literally declares a redevelopment zone for new businesses to settle tax-free in the tenderloin, home to so many residential hotels--housing, among other people, lots of queer seniors and poor trans people. worse, this deal was cut by some of among the city’s most progressive supervisors, scared into a twitter tax break by the company’s threat to pull out of the city on account of not being able to justify the expense of payroll taxes. zynga also threatened to do the same. this is a tax break that will cost the city tens of millions of dollars. like, neoliberalism is so totally pervasive that even some of the most progressive in city government can’t imagine anything better in this moment than massive trickle down schemes that rob the city and displace residents of the last affordable neighborhood with even more dot-com employees guided by mobile devices towards the holy grail of good cocktails.

and, long as i've been sitting on this post, five, six, seven, eight: nursing hip bruises from a cop confrontation following an attempted banner drop in support of the far-too-long-closed queer youth space at the eureka valley rec center at the castro "townhall," which was actually more like watching 15 (all male) talking heads explain their revenue shortages for 2 hours....high stakes kinda epic confrontation with a queer basher at a crowded party...the possible closure of longtime leatherbar, the eagle, in exchange for some condos...and some hardship over the (possible) virtual-to-actual transitions of hypothetical babies that helped land april an eighth plague of (internalized, in this case) homophobia.

finally, i’m working on a group project at school that is really challenging me to carve out space to talk about the political consequences and possibilities of the lives we live without dismissing the political realities and histories that form those lives in the first place. realizing that even though we may be able to trace the intersections in the lines of power that criss cross, perpendicularize, and paralell in their pummeling of varied and related ‘us’es' that it does not mean we always know what to say to each other about this when we try.

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