For the LGBTQ community of San Francisco, where rent increases and evictions continue to alter the cultural landscape, the term “safe space” takes on a whole new meaning.
Recent years have seen the closure of Esta Noche in the Mission, catering to many queer Latinos; the Lexington Club, San Francisco’s last remaining lesbian bar; Marlena’s, which played host to a weekly drag show; and Kok, the infamous SoMa Leather den. Meanwhile, after 50 years in business, The Stud was recently handed a 300-percent rent increase, leaving the future of the legendary gay bar in doubt.
What does it mean when one's safe space is taken away? For countless patrons, these venues have symbolized home: places where they’ve found their identities, created relationships, and found the strength to come out. Between evictions in San Francisco and the recent massacre in Orlando, safe spaces coast-to-coast feel under attack – and perhaps most intensely in the Latino queer community.
In the video above, KQED Arts asked some of the Bay Area’s LGBTQ artists to reflect on their “first” safe place, what the loss of recent safe places means, and how they're creating new sanctuaries for belonging and community.