SF LGBT Center Unveils New ‘Queeroes’ Mural After fnnch Honey Bear Controversy
Work has begun on a new mural at the San Francisco LGBT Center. Artists Juan Manuel Carmona and SimoÌn Malvaez are in the process of painting Queeroesâa tribute to LGBTQ+ heroes, both local and international. The artwork graces the centerâs East-facing exterior wall, replacing fnnchâs 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 âthe intersection of the LGBTQI and Latino communities of San Francisco.â Malvaez and Carmona finished a separate mural of Juanita MORE! earlier this month at Alamo Square. That piece is part of the Painted Gentlemen Projectâa 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 fnnchâs work and its broader impact on the city, which came to a boiling point last month. His honey bearsâperceived by some as a symbol of gentrificationâprompted a petition, an open letter and several small protests at muralâs Market Street intersection calling for its removal. Controversy was further stirred by fnnch identifying himself, during an on-camera confrontation, as an âimmigrantâ 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 Centerâs Instagram on Wednesday, Carmona and Malvaez expressed gratitude for the commission. âWe feel very grateful to have this amazing opportunity to share our talent,â Malvaez said, âand have the power to raise our voices and celebrate who we are and who we represent.â
Copyright 2021 KQED