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Second Lining and the Affective Disruption of Gentrification in San Francisco’s Polk Gulch Neighborhood

Authors: Trushna Parekh*, Texas Southern University, Damon Scott, Miami University
Topics: Urban Geography, Sexuality, Cultural Geography
Keywords: Gentrification, Affect, LGBTQ+, Dispossession, Second Line Parade, San Francisco, Bars
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Drawing on a queer approach to processes of urban change, we examine the rupturing of gentrifying space-time through a second line parade march in the Polk Gulch neighborhood of San Francisco in March 2018. We interview organizers and participants and examine press coverage of the march in order to analyze the psychic and affective dimensions of resistance as residents claim, articulate, and embody their attachment to the neighborhood, mourn the loss of gay bars, and publicly perform their affect to disrupt the temporality of gentrification. In so doing, we unravel the ‘undecidability of the urban’, in which residents call into question the impacts of gentrification and (despite being fully aware of the limitations of the parade), embody an alternative vision of urban spatial and cultural production in defiance of the status quo. Complete with brass band, drag queens dressed in mourning, and black banners, participants stopped at the sites of former gay bars and other commercial establishments where they laid wreaths, offered eulogies, and affectively resignified the social meaning and historical value of these institutions in the neighborhood. Understanding the affective character of the process of gentrification in this neighborhood and the ways in which attachment and mourning inform the remembrance and reclaiming of the LGBTQ+ past through the parade foregrounds the possibilities for resistance and challenge to the presentist and futurist process of gentrification, and forges paths toward alternatives to the ongoing destruction of vital neighborhood institutions.

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