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LGBT mural in La Mission draws hate – but why?

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Artist Miguel Paul’s mural “Por Vida”, as it originally looked before being defaced on Sunday, June 14, 2015, next to the Galeria de la Raza on 2857 24th Street. COURTESY PHOTO

On Guard column header Joe

Is there such a thing as a gay Mission homie?

Well of course there is. It’s 2015, and San Francisco’s Pride parade drew more than a million people. The Supreme Court just ruled same-sex marriage to be constitutional. LGBT folks are everywhere.

So why ask? Well, someone must’ve forgotten to tell the folks defacing an LGBT mural outside the Galeria de la Raza.

As the Examiner has reported, a Mission district mural depicting gay, lesbian and transgender cholos was defaced by unknown persons. Vandals defaced “Por Vida” (For Life) not once, not twice, but three times.

Some Latinos in the community defended the defacement.

“Jus sayin if there is one homo cholo that dont mean it’s all of us,” wrote one commenter on an Instagram photo of the sprayed-over mural.

Another commenter wrote, “I was born and raised in the mission & I feel this mural is straight disrespectful to our gente.” (sic)

Another commenter said the mural would eventually be riddled with bullets.

Cholo culture is longstanding here. As a San Franciscan born of a certain time, I remember my fellow S.F. natives in Ben Davis outfits, the love of lowriders and La Mission.

But it’s also a culture that celebrates la familia, and love. So where did people go astray?

Roberto Hernandez, a community organizer, said the eviction crisis brought the entire Mission to a boil. “People feel powerless here,” he told me. “To see the U-Haul trucks hauling people out. To see families living in backyards, in garages.

“It is criminal in a city that’s so wealthy to have 3,000 children living homeless,” he said. “So yeah, are there people angry? Yeah, there’s people angry.”

It makes me wonder if my fellow young Latinos are taking anger at losing their homes and misdirecting it to the mural. It probably didn’t help that the artist, Manuel Paul of the Maricon Collective, is from Southern California.

Some in the 415 would not respect a social message, even a righteous one, from someone from the “outside” (especially SoCal).

But Paul isn’t the only one representing cholo gay culture in art. Inside Galeria De La Raza is a photo gallery called Q-Sides, featuring queer women and other LGBT people posed next to lowrider cars.

“I consider myself a homie,” said Vero Majano, one of the Q-Sides artists. “I was born and raised in the Mission.”

Now she’s 48, but as a kid she’d run out of her home to watch the lowriders coast by. The sparkle of that perfect finish, the bumping hydraulics, the music, the community, is all part of her experience.

She identifies as queer. So for her fellow Mission latinos who hate on Por Vida, she has just one question: “Why you trippin’?”

Apart from gentrification or other concerns, she heard straight out hate from some in her community against her queer lowrider photos. But, she said, it brought out the best in her family.

“I have a brother a few years younger than me,” Majano said. “People called him up and said ‘hey, what’s up with your sister?’” she told me.

Her brother, a straight up homie, defended her.

“He said to them ‘man, someone in your family is gay,’” Majano told me. “I was surprised to hear him say that. My brother is a homeboy, but that was a wonderful interaction. He was like, ‘Who cares? There’s much deeper shit going on in the world right now.’”

More than the style, more than cars, more than sexual orientation, her brother demonstrated what it really is to be a homie, she said.

“My brother had my back.”

On Guard prints the news and raises hell each Tuesday. Email him at joe@sfexaminer.com.

TAKE ACTION: To make a donation to restore the mural, “Por Vida,” head to http://bit.ly/PorVidaMission

Update 6/30, 12:39: As this story went to press, someone set fire to the mural. Read our coverage of the fire here.

This story has been updated from its print version.

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