Castro art gallery starts fundraiser as rent doubles

  • by David-Elijah Nahmod
  • Monday February 6, 2023
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Queer Arts Featured gallery window display
Queer Arts Featured gallery window display

Queer Arts Featured, affectionately known as Queer A. F. according to owner and cofounder Devlin Shand, is a boutique, gallery and event space in the Castro that features works by queer artists from across all mediums.

"It's an artistic kaleidoscope, with something for everyone," Shand said in an interview with the Bay Area Reporter.

Queer A. F. is now asking for the community's help. They have seen their rent double this past month and have launched a GoFundMe campaign. The fundraising goal is $50,000.00. As of February 6 they have raised $3,832.

"With our increased rent, and the Castro slowly coming back to life after the pandemic, we need the community's support to cover new costs and grow into the even more vibrant, engaged, supportive space Queer A. F. is destined to be," Shand wrote on the fundraiser. "Additionally, the Queer A. F. founders have kept this space open and alive by volunteering our time, energy and love, and it's time to be paid for our efforts."

Queer A. F., located at 575 Castro Street, is an important location in the annals of LGBTQ history. The storefront was once occupied by Harvey Milk's Castro Camera. This is the place where Milk ran his political campaigns, eventually getting elected to the Board of Supervisors, the first openly gay person in California history to win a major elective office. Eleven months later Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated at City Hall by disgruntled former supervisor Dan White.

Queer Arts Featured gallery co-owner Devlin Shand  

"It's an honor to be able to create Queer A. F. in a space with such a pivotal and rich queer history," Shand told the BAR. "This space was the impetus for what we've grown into. In the '70s, 575 Castro was a place for gay people from across the country to come find a community, organize, and fight against the status quo. That legacy is baked into our mission, and we honor it by prioritizing queer folks who are still underrepresented in the Castro and the greater community."

Some of the shows already seen at Queer A. F. include an exploration of being queer as a resident of the USA, a showcase of queer youth from 18-24, a show around sex, kink and intimacy, and an exhibition highlighting the work of queer Palestinians.

"We currently have an open call for exhibitions for the coming year, and we have left the space open-ended so as to encourage folks from all different experiences and artistic practices to apply," said Shand. "We're so excited by the submissions we've received, and we can't wait to show you."

Shand hopes that the GoFundMe campaign will enable the space to secure rent and utilities for the year so they can build up their programming and events and become self-sustaining. The Queer A. F. staff has been working without pay thus far while balancing their fulltime jobs. Reaching their goal will enable them to hire the help they need to maintain and grow.

"This space is a reminder that while San Francisco becomes even more colorless, you can still hang a pink neon beacon reading Queer A. F. in a historic window and build something that stands for, supports and celebrates our community," said Shand. "The Castro needs it and our community needs it. I read the phrase painted over that sign every day, and it's gravity is always with me: 'you gotta give 'em hope.'"

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