A photo of the artist working on a mural on the side of a utility box on Valencia Street at 22nd.

J Manuel Carmona Makes Valencia Beautiful

I recently noticed some beautiful new murals appearing along Valencia Street. These murals were appearing on the ugly green utility boxes on Valencia between 20th and 22nd Streets. One morning I finally got to meet Juan Manuel Carmona, one of the artists who worked on these murals, so I shot a quick interview with him about his art, the process of working with Paint The Void and the city for approval, and the surprising amount of vandalism he had been dealing with on a previous mural that featured a trans man on it.

— @ (@@www.youtube.com)

I’m glad I had a chance to document the completion of this mural by Manuel and Gui, but before I even had time to edit this video, the mural had been covered in a coat of brown paint by a neighbor who objected to the mural’s subject matter, a local drag performer named Juanita More.

Manuel’s Art Gets “Erased”

During our interview, Manuel mentioned that he was frustrated with the unusual amount of vandalism he was experiencing with his two newest murals. It’s sad that some of our neighbors are destroying the work of working-class queer and Latino artists, but it’s not surprising. There’s been a recent rise in anti-LGBTQ+ hate all over the US, and that’s going to happen here in San Francisco too if we let it. I’ve even been noticing a rise in anti-LGBTQ+ stickers in our neighborhood recently too.

While attempting to restore the mural on 22nd and Valencia, Manuel spotted the bully who tried to censor it. In the Instagram below, Manuel shows that confrontation and talks about his own personal history of being bullied in Mexico and even in San Francisco because of his identity.

Manuel’s response:

I’m also posting Manuel’s full text here, just in case something happens to his post on Instagram:

✨We are Queer, We are Brown, and We will not be “ERASED”!✨

I remember being a kid in high school and we were in a simulated United Nations panel when one of the popular kids decided to make fun of me and my buddy for being Gay. Everyone started laughing and the moderator did nothing. I remember thinking “this would not happen in the real United Nations”
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Seven years ago i attended @missmore8 pride party with my best girlfriend from high school @glowp and we took a @sfmuni bus back. I was gaybashed by another Mexican (from all people) because of my “FAGGOT” laugh. I decided it was enough and got up to fight. I felt a squeeze in my hand and looked back at my girlfriend then realized six other dudes got up too. Nobody in the bus did anything. It was Pride weekend and the bus was packed.
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Last week I painted a message of love and a tribute to 30+ years of work by @missmore8 on a utility box commissioned by the city. It was “erased” two days later on a Friday afternoon. (Thanks friends for the footage ♥️✊🏾✊🏽✊)
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I’m tired of being bullied, abused and “erased” because I’m a minority and my behavior is outside the “BOX”. I have been a proud citizen of San a Francisco since 2010. This is the first place where i felt i truly belonged and yes it’s full of issues and I’m struggling to pay rent but this is my home and my city ♥️✨
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I encountered and confronted this guy on Valencia Street yesterday. I called and talked to the police afterwards and I’m tired of hearing “there’s nothing we can do”. I’m posting this in the hope that someone can give us some direction of what to do. He promised to destroy my work every time i fix it and threatened me physically several times.
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As a member of the LGBTQ+ community i know we are stronger together and we have united before to survive. I have full support of my friend and muse @missmore8 my business partners @guileemes & @simonmalvaez and so many more friends and allies. Most importantly @paint.thecity@paint_the_city_sf_@paintthevoidproject@civic_joy_fund and @emanuelseth@welcometomannys
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Thank you so much for following and any help would be greatly appreciated 🙏♥️✨
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– Juan Manuel Carmona on Instagram (October 7th, 2022)

San Francisco Deserves To be Beautiful

Some folks are keeping San Francisco colorful; others carry around buckets of brown paint to cover up the parts they approve of. Which side are you on?

If you’d like to keep S.F. beautiful and inclusive, support local artists. You can start by visiting Manuel and Gui, on Instagram. This city is expensive, so anything you can do to help support local artists is always appreciated.

But if you find yourself hating art because it shows gay representation, then keep it to your god-damned self. Leave your brown paint and paint scraper at home. The world is already tough enough for many people as it is, and the last thing anyone needs is someone making it uglier.

Update: Restore Drag event

On Friday October 20th, Galería De La Raza is organizing “Restore Drag! Painting Against Homophobia” on the corner of 22nd and Valencia from 11am-2pm.

“We invite everyone to come together – wear pink – in support and celebration of San Francisco’s creatives who make our City and County a vibrant and inclusive beacon for all. We will gather as Carmona restores the mural on the utility box.”

-Galería de la Raza on Instagram

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