QUEER REAL ESTATE IS NOT QUEER SAFETY
PSSST is a million-plus dollar real estate investment. The founders and participants continuing refusal to side with Boyle Heights residents reveals the white supremacy and elitism that is at the core of this queer-and-poc washed non-profit art spectacle.
The founders of PSSST also participate in high-profile media pieces that label Boyle Heights as the next area for the wrecking ball of city-development measures — measures which use institutionally sanctioned art and culture to pave the way for working class and poor neighborhoods to be turned over to a new class of settlers and attract further investment.
The connection between opening institutional art spaces, artist studios, and luxury businesses and the creation of a real estate frontier (gentrification) is ridiculously, painfully, well documented and obvious.
Despite this, PSSST still denies any implication in the gentrification process. In hundreds of neighborhoods across the United States, this violent and destructive process has gone on for decades. This is one of several cultural initiatives (like Current-LA) where city governments and developers enlist artists to open areas to real estate speculation and gentrification.
PSSST’s latest move in glossing over their place in this process is to hold community conversations. The topic of the galleries disbandment, as demanded by various organizing groups in Boyle Heights, is still not on the table. A conversation this summer used the June shooting of 49 queer and trans people, mostly Latinx, at Pulse in Orlando as a premise and justification for it’s existence as a queer safe space.
As queer and trans people involved in resisting the role of art in the gentrification process, we recognize and push back on the problematic notion of queer, safe space as a category that neutralizes a high-profile, highly marketable, gentrifying presence.
There is no heterogeneous category or way to address queers as a class on it’s own. Queerness, like the identity of artist, is a descriptor, not a determinant. Many queer and trans people live under threat of a queerness that utilizes property accumulation and economic prosperity as the only method of safety. This needs to be called what it is in America: white supremacy.
This leads us to the heart of the objection to this project: when queerness and property ownership merge, white supremacy is recreated and guarded fiercely. This is an organization that will never stop consuming and co-opting queer and trans identity in order to justify it’s existence. Because of this, we insist:
Queerness is an inadequate category when used to imply a liberatory politic
It is often used in ways which erase racial and class violences
Queer real estate agents evict queer families and tenants
Queers live in the margins and queers maintain the status quo
Queer gentry and property owners call the cops on their neighbors
Queer gentry protect their property at all costs
Queer business owners call the cops on the homeless so
that the gentry can shop in comfort
Queerness and queer safety is not a free pass in this world of
racial violence and violence against the poor
The argument that queer spaces (such as PSSST) are necessary to relieve the violence of everyday life as queer people demands we push back and assert that Boyle Heights is full of low-income queer people, and that gentrification and homelessness are also imperative, intersectional queer issues.
Safety means not being pushed out of your home due to speculation, rent hikes, racism, and evictions. Why does PSSST continue to remain silent about their role in this process?
We cannot separate art and the way we choose to live. Queerness is not a single-issue platform. You cannot separate queerness from the need for secure shelter, food, health, and safety from a racist police state.
PSSST, along with many other careerist and social climbing artists, feel attackedس in this process. They wonder why resistance groups are taking such a hard stance on the use of art as a tool for displacement. We are loud because people are being evicted. We are loud because homeless people are dying. We are loud because your language is disingenuous and diluted. We are loud because you haven’t listened to us. We are loud because the calls to action of those that came before us were crystal fucking clear.
#QueerRealEstateisNotQueerSafety #PSSST #GetOut #Fuera