Lesbians Who Tech considering move to NYC

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Tuesday November 14, 2023
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Lesbians Who Tech has issued a survey to find out if people want next year's Lesbians Who Tech & Allies Summit in New York City or San Francisco. Photo: Courtesy LWT
Lesbians Who Tech has issued a survey to find out if people want next year's Lesbians Who Tech & Allies Summit in New York City or San Francisco. Photo: Courtesy LWT

Lesbians Who Tech announced in an email blast November 14 it is open to moving locations for its Lesbians Who Tech & Allies Summit next year. One possibility is holding it on the East Coast for the very first time.

Its willingness to do so comes after business owners in its longtime home of San Francisco's LGBTQ Castro district have voiced opposition to allowing it to take over a main street in the neighborhood once again in 2024. During this year and in 2022 the conference closed down Castro Street for use as a gated gathering area for its attendees.

"Team, for the first time in 10 years we are open to a new location for our marquee Lesbians Who Tech & Allies Summit. This is HUGE and we want to hear from all of you. What city should host our 2024 Summit?" the blast asks. "Please vote today, and fill out this super short survey."

The survey asks only about two cities — New York City and San Francisco, where the conference has been traditionally held. The survey also asks about potential dates for the conference, which this year was held October 16-20.

The email blast also states that this year's summit in the Castro was "our best ever."

It comes after many Castro residents and business leaders made it clear they may not want to open their Golden Gate for the annual tech confab — at least if doing so entails the closure of Castro Street.

As the Bay Area Reporter reported earlier this month, the Castro Merchants Association voted to oppose future closings of Castro Street to the event after concerns members had brought up with the tech group went unaddressed. These included a barrier one merchant compared to an "armed camp" in the words of Auto Erotica owner Patrick Batt, and issues with garbage collection, street signage, and communications generally.

Terry Asten Bennett, a straight ally who is president of the association and co-owner of Cliff's Variety at 479 Castro Street, was one of those who'd expressed her frustrations. She did not immediately return a request for comment November 14 about the confab's relocation survey.

"We have a voice that goes back to the city," she'd said at the November 2 merchants' meeting before a vote was taken. "The city respects that, and we'd be sending our position to the supervisors, the mayor, and ISCOTT [the SFMTA's Interdepartmental Staff Committee on Traffic and Transportation]. I've been asked by other neighborhood associations where we stand on this."

The wording of the merchants' resolution was specific to the street closure, and several expressed support for the conference continuing in the Castro if it were indoors, as in prior years. But the association was not able to come to a consensus on that matter and so did not vote on it.

Batt, who said he closed his business at 4077-A 18th Street for the duration of this year's confab, told the B.A.R. in response to the survey news, "I'm happy to see them go wherever they are welcome."

Leanne Pittsford, a lesbian who is the CEO and founder of Lesbians Who Tech, did not immediately return a request for comment Tuesday. In the past she has been adamant about wanting to maintain having the summit in San Francisco due to its being close to Silicon Valley, the epicenter of the tech sector.

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