SF LGBT Center Unveils New ‘Queeroes’ Mural After fnnch Honey Bear Controversy

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"Queeroes" will recognize remarkable individuals who have impacted—and stood up for—the LGBTQ community throughout history.
"Queeroes" will recognize remarkable individuals who have impacted—and stood up for—the LGBTQ community throughout history. (Courtesy of SFLGBT Center)

Work has begun on a new mural at the San Francisco LGBT Center. Artists Juan Manuel Carmona and Simón Malvaez are in the process of painting Queeroes—a tribute to LGBTQ+ heroes, both local and international. The artwork graces the center’s East-facing exterior wall, replacing fnnch’s trio of honey bears that was removed in late April.

Queeroes honors four figures from Bay Area LGBTQ+ history: Harvey Milk, Honey Mahogany, Juanita MORE! and Sister Roma of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. It also features international icons including Freddie Mercury, Frida Kahlo, Marsha P. Johnson, Keith Haring, Chavela Vargas, James Baldwin, Sylvia Rivera and Willi Ninja. The piece incorporates the colors of the Progress Pride Flag.

Both Carmona and Malvaez identify as Latinx and queer, and say their work is impacted by their experiences as immigrants. On his website, Carmona says his work also reflects “the intersection of the LGBTQI and Latino communities of San Francisco.” Malvaez and Carmona finished a separate mural of Juanita MORE! earlier this month at Alamo Square. That piece is part of the Painted Gentlemen Project—a series of artworks painted on plywood and affixed to a chainlink fence at 804 Steiner. The project is curated and managed by fnnch.

The new LGBT Center mural follows a flurry of debate surrounding fnnch’s work and its broader impact on the city, which came to a boiling point last month. His honey bears—perceived by some as a symbol of gentrification—prompted a petition, an open letter and several small protests at the mural’s Market Street intersection calling for its removal. Controversy was further stirred by fnnch identifying himself, during an on-camera confrontation, as an “immigrant” from Missouri. Protesters called for the center to employ lesser known, local, LGBTQ+-identifying artists to re-paint the wall.


In the launch video shared by the LGBT Center’s Instagram on Wednesday, Carmona and Malvaez expressed gratitude for the commission. “We feel very grateful to have this amazing opportunity to share our talent,” Malvaez said, “and have the power to raise our voices and celebrate who we are and who we represent.”