Fans of Muni, BART, LGBTQ Pride and — most especially — fans of puns: rejoice.
Your train has arrived.
San Francisco product designer Chris Arvin has gained a cult following among transit-lovers after crafting two Muni maps detailing local streetcar history.
Now, he’s marrying his love of transit with his own coming-out story by debuting some very punny, already-successful LGBTQ Pride-themed transit merchandise.
And for the duration of Pride Month Arvin isn’t pocketing a dime, not even for bus fare: All of the proceeds through June 30 are going to nonprofits serving the LGBTQ community.
“There’s a really wonderful overlap of transit lovers and queer folks, and someone ought to celebrate that,” Arvin said.
Muni and BART aficionados who fashion themselves LGBTQ community members or allies can now wear shirts or sport stickers proclaiming they are “gay for transit,” or that they’d love to “pride the bus.” Or instead of driving LGBTQ transit geeks can boldly claim they’ll “get there bi train” or tell their friends, hey, “lez take transit.” Those from the transgender community can proclaim their support for “transbay,” which is either a description of BART’s underwater tube or a community identification, depending on how you look at it.
Each of the pun-heavy shirts sports a cartoon icon Arvin designed representing Muni trains, BART trains, AC Transit buses and other transit modes.
While pairing LGBTQ pride with transit t-shirts may seem an odd combination at first, public transit is a place where many in the LGBTQ community have been vulnerable to violence, Arvin said. As recently as the beginning of June, Pride month, a transgender woman was attacked in the Castro neighborhood while waiting for a bus.
get there bi train ❤️💜💙 pic.twitter.com/E0DfLAhKJg
— chris arvin 💕 🌁 (@chrisarvinsf) June 25, 2019
In the Twitter photo above, designer Chris Arvin wears his own bisexual-Pride themed transit t-shirt.
“Transit is a public space, which means it’s a place where LGBTQ people can be targeted or a place where they can be supported and defended,” Arvin said.
There are also Facebook groups dedicated to both communities, like the 16,000-member strong “Queer Urbanism Memes And Other Things For Lonely And Forgotten Teens.”
Arvin first opened up shop for his LGBT transit offerings May 20. Proceeds from those sales will go to the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center, Larkin Street Youth Services and Trans Lifeline. Arvin has netted $4,300 toward his eventual donation to the organizations so far, with 1,562 stickers and 152 shirts sold.
Enthusiastic transit nerds, like K. Travis Ballie, have written glowing praise for the Pride-themed transit t-shirts.
“HAPPY PRIDE TO ALL MY STAN PUBLIC TRANSIT INFRASTRUCTURE NERDS!!!” Ballie tweeted in late May, adding the shirts made them “feel seen.”
While the transit and Pride-themed merchandise has been an early success for Arvin, with some items selling out since its debut, the work has also helped him on a personal level.
Arvin identifies as bisexual but said he doesn’t discuss it often.
While designing his “get there bi train” t-shirt, however, it occurred to him that wearing it would mean being more open about his sexuality.
“Honestly, the idea of wearing my sexuality literally on myself would have seemed ridiculous to me a few years ago, and I have this internal thing sometimes that I feel like I shouldn’t talk about it because I’m in a monogamous relationship with a woman,” Arvin told the Examiner.
But, he said, “I’ve realized that it’s important to talk about it, because we have to normalize openly bi folks and stop all the bi erasure.”
Now Arvin proudly wears his identity on his sleeves for everyone on Muni to see.