The Castro District, once home to an empowering queer movement, home to inspirational figures like Harvey Milk, is now home to a bunch of faux-camp and kitch knick knack companies looking to make a buck. Enter Gay Coffee, debuting this weekend at the Castro Street Fair, a company that names its blends after cliched gay caricatures and nomenclature, each with historical context. Reading the history of roaster Melissa’s humble New England college town beginnings makes us want to meet her, and we’re sure she’s a very nice person, but we can’t shake how this all feels like gimmicky exploitation.
Despite the name and branding, Krueger says it’s no gimmick.
“I want to take civil rights history and put it on people’s counters,” she says. “It’s not a kitsch thing.”
Right. Can you think of another minority group whose civil rights would benefit from selling coffee named after tired and groan-inducing stereotypes with historical context behind their significance?
Are we just being fussy fuddy duddies about this? Has Sprudge.com turned into PC thugs? Should we have a sense of humor about the whole thing? They use fair trade and organic green Royal coffee (though not certified organic themselves, so that whole organic language is fuzzy) and they do plan on donating 1% of profits to the LGBT Task Force. That’s nice. But no! It’s just so tacky. It’s bad camp. It’s setting a bad example for the children.
Ultimately we are reminded of the efforts of Gay Shame SF, a radical queer organization against unfavorable gay mainstreaming, who find traditional pride events and activities increasingly (and detrimentally) commercialized. From their mission statement:
We seek nothing less than a new queer activism that foregrounds race, class, gender and sexuality, to counter the self-serving “values” of gay consumerism and the increasingly hypocritical left. We are dedicated to fighting the rabid assimilationist monster with a devastating mobilization of queer brilliance.
Now there’s something we can get behind.