TBT: Anti-Homeless Gay Rock Causes Controversy In The Bay Area

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Posted: Sep 19, 2019 9:55 AM
TBT: Anti-Homeless Gay Rock Causes Controversy In The Bay Area

Happy Throwback Thursday folks! We are throwing it back to a few months ago to San Francisco when controversy swirled around a rainbow-colored rock that critics said was meant to discriminate against the legions of homeless people currently inhabiting Saint Francis of Assisi's namesake city. 

Twitter user Aleph brought this story into the forefront again after tweeting, "Anti-homeless gay rock has to be peak neoliberalism" on Wednesday.

What is anti-homeless gay rock? No, it is not the latest music craze sweeping the nation. According to San Francisco Gate, a sushi restaurant in the Castro neighborhood of SanFran painted a giant boulder on their property to celebrate Gay Pride month. The rainbow flag, of course, is the symbol of the LGBTQ community and represents "inclusiveness" of all sexual orientations. 

But at Izakaya Sushi Ran, the establishment which owns the property that it is located on, others did not see a welcoming sign -- but one of hate and abuse towards people experiencing homelessness. 

"It was pretty clear to me why a big boulder was there in the alcove," said  T.J. Johnston, a reporter from a homelessness coalition advocacy group, said at the time. "And I thought, 'Oh god, now they're almost pride-washing this anti-homeless piece of architecture.'"

Here's the SF Gate's recap of why Johnston found the multicolored stone so problematic:

Hostile architecture, most typically associated with "anti-homeless spikes," is any measure designed to discourage people from sitting or sleeping in public spaces. Johnston found an irony in the LGBTQ-friendly rock: According to an article in the California Sunday Magazine, 48 percent of San Francisco's homeless youth are LGBTQ.

Those who work at the restaurant denied this rock was meant to deter homeless people.

"Yoshi loved the rock a lot and he worked really hard to pick it out. He even painted it gold a few times," said Jess Meddock, a server at the Japanese establishment. 

"It never occurred to me that it was anti-homeless architecture. [Yoshi] is very much about respect and honor. I remember when I first started, he said that we won't be like that person in the White House — we will always treat people with respect," Meddock added. 

"The intention was to marry the two cultures of the Japanese garden tradition and the queer iconic flag," Rhonda Richards, the sushi bistro's beverage director and bar manager, told the paper. "We've never kicked anyone out. We support our community a lot. It's hurtful to think that people are crucifying us for trying to be a part of the community visibly." 

What sort of world is it where you cannot even blend the two cultures of the Japanese garden tradition and the queer iconic flag without somebody asking you to check your privilege? For shame. Well, that's Townhall's Throwback Thursday. But, if progressives keep winning, I suspect there will be many more stories of businesses trying to virtue signal and winding up offending an unrelated group entirely. Happy #TBT.