UPDATE June 30, 2015
Galería de la Raza strongly condemns last night’s act of terrorism to try to yet again silence Chican@/Latin@ LGBTQ visibility.
On Monday, June 29 at about 11pm, the Por Vida digital mural by Manuel Paul was set on fire. Thankfully no one was physically hurt; however, the emotional trauma our neighbors and local communities have suffered is unacceptable and we must find ways to heal. The level of anger and hate expressed by the perpetrator(s) has moved beyond the dislike of a piece of art and into endangering the lives of families who live in the building and could have displaced families that have lived in the building for more than 20 years.
We have the perpetrator(s) for the last two incidents on video and this is an active investigation with SFPD and we will be cooperating with SFPD in their investigation.
In midst of all the hatred and violence we have experienced, we maintain a strong dedication to Galería de la Raza’s mission to help give voice to all relevant issues within the larger Chican@/Latin@ communities including LGBTQ Latin@’s.
We will be hosting a community conversation on Saturday, July 25th, details to come. (originally scheduled for July 18.)
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UPDATE June 21, 2015: The defacement and re-defacement of the current digital mural by Manuel Paul of Maricón Collective has only proven the credibility of its purpose. Galeria de la Raza believes in the importance of continued dialogue about LGBTQ visibility, awareness, and acceptance in the Mission District and within the greater Latin@ communities. Galería does not condone actions of hate, violence and homophobia and is dedicated to continuing to promote understanding and tolerance through peaceful means. While ignorance and hate may have been expressed by the few, we thank the extraordinarily generous support we have received from the vast majority of the community. We are in the process of organizing a community forum to engage the larger community in the coming days but in the meantime we need to raise funds to fix the current mural.
Galería de la Raza (Galería) would like to release a statement in response to the derogatory comments and threats (homophobic hate speech and physical threats via social media) received by the Maricón Collective and The Q-Sidesartists.
Since its inception in 1970, Galería has been dedicated to pushing the limits of the art world to be inclusive of multiple narratives, including the marginalized sectors of our community who have been excluded from the Chican@/Latin@ experience. We engage artists that explore contemporary issues in art, culture and civic society, and advance intercultural dialogue by embracing concepts such as community memory, popular culture, ceremony, family and social activism. It is in this spirit that Galería invited Maricón Collective and The Q-Sides to present during LGBTQ Pride month.
Yesterday, the Digital Mural was defaced. These actions (property damage and cyber attacks) are reminders that homophobia is alive and well in our communities; however, we will not let it thrive. In addition, the artists have been accused of culturally appropriating gang culture by glamorizing and claiming gang affiliation. We see these actions as tactics of aversion towards Chican@/Latin@ LBGTQ visibility. In response to these comments, we want to be transparent about the current artworks on display:
Not once have any of the artists or subjects claimed any gang affiliation, nor do we accept the glamorization of gang culture. The intent of these two art projects is to bring visibility to the many queer individuals who grew up in periphery of the Lowrider community; those who have never had the opportunity to share their queer narratives in fear of violence and rejection. The work of The Q-Sides and Maricón Collective are a declaration of love for oldies music and lowriders - and how these art forms have informed and shaped queer Chican@ LGBTQ identities. The artists and subjects depicted in the artworks are Chican@s/Latin@s from various intersecting communities, all of who understand the gang/ prison industrial complex system. There is no intent of disrespect. For many, they have first-hand lived and are still dealing with the trauma associated with the aftermath of having loved ones lost to the system. The artists and participants are leaders who work towards the empowerment of their communities. They are activists and social service workers advocating for children, youth, family, homeless and equitable housing, and many have stood and participated in community marches. Calling the artwork a cultural appropriation is extremely misinformed. The negative remarks validate why we need to continue to advocate for community spaces to present these narratives - enough with the rejection and erasure of the Chican@/Latin@ LGBTQ history!
Por Vida was created to celebrate the LGTBQ Chican@/Latin@ culture within the context of a historically Chicano Barrio. Through our art and our work we present counter-stories that reflect queers growing up in the Barrio. Barrio Queerness is not a new concept or trend, it has always existed but has been silenced by centuries of patriarchy and machismo that plague our communities. The love depicted in the mural is meant to reach more than just LGTBQ people; it is meant to create bridges of love and support with one another. We stand for restoring, not destroying. We remain positive and hope that people can see the message of the mural and what it represents to us as Chican@s/Latin@s that face obstacles in life due to Racism, Sexism, and Homophobia. - Manuel Paul of Maricón Collective
To begin an honest conversation, we must accept that we live intersectional lives and thus, we need to arrive with some level of open-mindedness, as we will encounter differences of opinions. We encourage folks to discuss, share ideas and thoughts in a civil and respectful manner and to refrain from inciting violence and unlawful behavior - this is not acceptable. For those of you who are enabling homophobic violent behavior by providing a platform through your social media channels, we encourage you to open your heart and be aware that demeaning/insulting behavior and words perpetuate hate, divisiveness and further fractures our communities. Consider these words:
Tú eres mi otro yo | You are my other me
Si te hago daño a ti, | If I do harm to you
Me hago daño a mi mismo | I do harm to myself
Si te amo y respeto,| If I love and respect you,
Me amo y respeto yo |I love and respect myself
By Luis Valdes, 71', Excerpt from Pensamiento Serpentino
Galería is committed to present work that incites dialogue, and continues to contribute to the articulation, examination and expression of artistic concepts central to the Chican@/Latin@ experience. Since the opening of The Q-Sides we have had over 3,000 visitors. We stand behind our vision and believe that it is important to hold a space where the Chican@/Latin@, LGBTQ, and Lowrider pride can exist together; therefore, Galería will fix the mural as many times as it is necessary.
We would like to ask our communities to come out and support Galería by keeping a neighborhood watch on the Mural. In addition, on Thursday, June 18, we will need support to restore the mural; if you are able to join us email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also would like to ask folks to join us in the main gallery to welcome our many visitors and patrons.
Lastly, if you continue to see offensive, threatening dialogue on the social media channels, please report it - do not leave any room for cyber attacks. Galería would like to extend our support and send healing vibes to those who have been affected by the negative comments. Please stay connected; now more than ever, we must come together and gather. We would like to thank those of you who have reached out to us in support of the Galería, Maricón Collective and The Q-Sides.