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After Assault on Gay Man, Gay Mafia Plans Takeover of Marina Bar

Make the Marina safe again.

An SF Gay Mafia get-together at Pilsner Inn in the Castro in December.

 

In response to a vicious beating of a gay man in the Marina last week, a Facebook group called SF Gay Mafia is mounting a takeover of HiFi Lounge, the bar outside of which the assault took place. Dubbed the Marina Bar Gay Takeover, the action will be part grand statement, part circuit party, says an organizer. “What we are doing is in some ways a response to the incident in the Marina, but it is not a protest,” says Saul Sugarman, one of the group’s leaders. “We also just thought it would be fun.”

No one has been arrested in the wake of Saturday’s assault on Jeffery Lafayette, a 28-year-old man who was allegedly surrounded, beaten, and spat upon by about 20 men. The victim did not file a police report. “I just wanted to go home,” he told CBS. “I was covered in blood.” It’s unclear who the assailants were—whether they were locals or tourists or Super Bowl attendees, or even whether they were patrons of HiFi. After the attack, Lafayette set up a GoFundMe campaign for his medical expenses, as SFist notes. The campaign is no longer active.

San Francisco is no stranger to gay takeovers of straight bars, such as the dot-com-era gatherings by Guerrilla Queer Bar. It’s not typical to reveal the name of the bar in advance, says Sugarman, but the group’s announcement today on Facebook gave HiFi a chance to get on board. The bar is promoting the takeover on its Facebook page, and expressed its support for people of all stripes in another post, writing, “While we are not sure what led to the events of last Saturday outside of our business we want to be very clear that we hold no bias in our place of business.” 

The idea for the gay takeover came up at an SF Gay Mafia meeting before Saturday's assault, as a way of extending the group's activities outside of traditionally gay spaces. "It's not as though I look at every bar that's not a gay bar and think, 'Jeez, I don't want to go into these places,'" says Sugarman. "But, spending so much time with this group in gay bars, at a certain point I realized that there's this shift in my own behavior. I become so comfortable being who I am [in gay bars] that going into a straight bar and acting that way doesn't feel comfortable."

Asked if he was surprised by the hate crime last weekend, Sugarman says, “Yes and no. I will say that San Francisco is the safest place I’ve ever felt. I wouldn’t imagine it happening on a regular basis, like, a terribly unsafe place to be is the Marina—I don’t think that.” But he adds, “I do think it’s probably an unwelcoming place, especially considering the type of outfit I have planned for next week.”

Pressed for details, Sugarman says he hasn’t committed to an ensemble yet, but it could be “anything from bootie shorts to a full-body harness to an array of sequins and light-up shoes that I own.”

 

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