Lesbians Who Tech & Allies Conference Takes Over The Castro

The Lesbians Who Tech & Allies conference begins today at the Castro. Photo: Megan Rose Dickey/Axios

The 9th Annual Lesbians Who Tech & Allies Conference returns to San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood this week.

Why is this important: San Francisco remains in pandemic recovery mode, with the city having the third-slowest rebound in the nation, by data of the 62 largest cities in the United States and Canada from March to May.

  • In the wake of shutdowns and forced separations at the height of the pandemic, the Lesbians Who Tech & Allies conference has the potential to bring members of the LGBTQ+ community together.

What is happening: The nonprofit, which aims to foster community through events, will host the in-person portion of its annual conference beginning Wednesday.

  • Speakers include comedian Rosie O’Donnell, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, author Roxane Gay and San Francisco Mayor London Breed.
  • Lesbians Who Tech expects 3,000 attendees to descend on the Castro.
  • Castro Street will be closed to vehicular traffic between Market and 19th Streets.

What they say : Leanne Pittsford, founder of Lesbians Who Tech, told Axios that the rally is taking place at the Castro “because it’s one of the most historic queer spaces in the world…and it’s still a space that doesn’t have a lot of women, a lot of non-binary leaders, a lot of people of color,” she said. “So it is very important for us to recover this space. “

  • Dave Karraker, co-chair of the Castro Merchants Association, told Axios it’s exciting for Lesbians Who Tech to be back in Castro, adding that the neighborhood was “one of the hardest hit” in the city during the pandemic. “We’re always looking for those types of events that can bring this activity back.”

Between the lines: Both the Castro district and the Castro theater have been at the center of recent controversy.

  • Public backlash ensued soon after Another Planet Entertainment announced in January he would revamp the lineup of events and redesign parts of the century-old theater. At the time, Castro Theater co-owner Steve Nasser says the San Francisco Chronicle “After 100 years, everyone and everything needs a makeover.”
  • Yes, but: Neighborhood groups like the Castro LGBTQ Cultural District opposed the planswhich involves, in part, changing the seating configuration of the theatre.
  • Meanwhile, the Castro Merchants Association of August threatened to withhold taxes if the city did not address homelessness and drug use in the neighborhood.
  • raise promised last month to coordinate city efforts in the Castro, saying police would intervene if people refused to accept help.

What to watch: If business owners keep their taxes.

  • Karraker said the Merchants Association is “encouraged by some of the progress we’ve seen” in tackling homelessness and addiction, but merchants still need answers on “what exactly does it do” San Francisco and how the city will measure success.


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