Queer AF opening in Harvey Milk's SF Castro camera shop inspired by legacy

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Friday, June 10, 2022
Queer AF opening in Harvey Milk's Castro camera shop
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The historic site of Harvey Milk's Castro Camera shop in San Francisco has been transformed into Queer Arts Featured, or Queer AF.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- This Pride Month, you'll have a chance to check out one of San Francisco's most significant LGBTQ historic sites reimagined.

Harvey Milk's Castro Camera shop became the center of the neighborhoods growing gay community in the 1970's.

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For Devlin Shand to sit in this historic place roughly 50 years later is surreal.

Shand is a photographer, and in 2020 was looking for a place to show series of photos when a friend connected him with this space. COVID put those plans on pause and the idea evolved, inspired by the space.

"This was a community spot," Shand says. "This was a place for people to organize. And so we wanted to bring that vibe back. And we wanted it to be a space for queer people who don't feel seen or need space to have that and to be creative here."

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Shand is part of the team that transformed the space into Queer Arts Featured, or Queer AF.

"Queer AF is a space for local Bay Area artists to show and sell their work and to come and gather and be creative," Shand says.

In the front is a gathering space. Then, a boutique for creators to sell jewelry and other works. In San Francisco, one of the most expensive cities in the country, co-founder Fadi Salah says that is vital.

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"It's critical to you know provide that access to provide that representation and to allow folks that wouldn't normally be featured become featured," Salah says.

The goal is to present a diverse group of artists and creators. Right now, 60% of artists represented here are people of color.

"Here, you can see yourself," Salah says. "The many sides of yourself, you can see them here."

Co-founder Erika Pappas says Queer AF will have a rotating art gallery and exhibit space featuring a different artist every month.

"So this is our first exhibiting artists," Pappas explained. "This is Luis Felipe Chavez."

Pappas says galleries can sometimes feel exclusive and competitive and take high commissions.

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Not here.

"We wanted to be a space that maybe can be like a jumping off point for artists and those who want to have this exposure and gain an understanding or an opportunity to display," Pappas says.

You can feel Milk's legacy of community, connection and inclusion here, and Queer AF is building upon it in its own way.

"We have big ideas and big plans," Shand says. "And I think that's going to keep evolving as people come into the space as we learn from the community because it's really this is a community centered project."

QueerAF says its focus now is to fundraise.

Co-founders are almost halfway to their $70,000 goal, which will cover startup costs and get money back to the artists they are featuring.

You can donate and find out more information here.

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