It was a beautiful day on Friday at San Francisco’s famed Dolores Park; the perfect setting to kick off the annual Trans March, one of the first events of the city’s Pride festivities.
But instead of cheering or rallying, the crowd at Dolores was angry. The group reportedly heckled, swore, mooned, and gave the finger to California state senator Mark Leno. The gay Democratic politician and San Francisco native challenged his critics, which only enflamed the situation.
“And why am I a piece of shit?” Leno asked, before scolding someone for giving him the middle finger. “Though this has not been a warm welcome or one of respect, I will continue to fight for transgender rights, equality, and the respect that you’re not giving us today.”
The response to Leno was so bad, scheduled speakers Mayor Ed Lee and City Supervisor Scott Weiner declined to take the stage. After Leno left, the crowd began shouting, “House keys not handcuffs!”
Leno was likely the unintended recipient of the chant — Weiner has inspired much ire from the city’s trans community for saying San Francisco's ubiquitous tent camps should be removed.
“These tents are a public safety and a public health problem for the people living in them and for our neighborhoods,” Wiener said in an interview, according to KQED.
Homeless advocates were not pleased by Weiner's words and neither were many trans activists, since the issue of housing is so central to trans people, especially in expensive cities like San Francisco. The most recent statistics show that nearly 30 percent of the city’s homeless identify as LGBT.
The issue of homelessness in San Francisco — where at least 6,600 people live on the streets — is so acute it prompted a rare show of teamwork from the city's media. Dozens of Bay Area publications and TV stations will simultaneously debut a series on the issue beginning Wednesday.
"We will pool our resources — reporting, data analysis, photojournalism, video, websites—and starting Wednesday, June 29, will publish, broadcast, and share a series of stories across all of our outlets," read a statement from the media, which calls itself The SF Homeless Project. "We intend to explore possible solutions, their costs, and viability... Fundamentally, we are driven by the desire to stop calling what we see on our streets the new normal. Frustration and resignation are not a healthy psyche for a city."
Back at Dolores Park, trans activist Ashley Love explained to reporters on Friday the basis of the outrage, according to LGBTQ Nation: “I’m upset because I’m a trans woman who has a lot of trans friends who are homeless and I’m tired of people using our community as a prop.”
With San Francisco’s housing prices continually some of the highest in the nation — partly the result of the booming tech industry — the class wars riling San Francisco are expected to continue unabated.