We Are Family


Alexis Miranda. Photo by Gabriela Hasbun

Alexis Miranda, manager of Divas bar and 33rd Empress of the Imperial Court

“The people coming in here with money want to take out the life that has always been Polk Street. And create their own ambience….The bar across the street wanted us closed. They figured that…if [Divas] wasn’t here that the prostitution wouldn’t be here. Well you know prostitution has been on Polk Street for seventy years that I know of….I just wish that people would open their minds to some of the diversity that’s on Polk Street and not try to change it. Clean it up possibly, but don’t try to change it.”


Shane "Yoyo" Gibson. Photo by Gabriela Hasbun

Shane "Yoyo" Gibson, resident of Polk Street SRO hotel

“Polk Street was a refuge. This is where all the runaway kids came. At one time we had a family out there…I don’t even like to walk up and down Polk Street anymore. Nobody camps out here. The hustlers don’t come here. I only live here for now because it’s the only thing I can afford.”


Kevin "Kiko" Lobo. Photo by Gabriela Hasbun

Kevin "Kiko" Lobo, bouncer at Deco Lounge

“Some very pretty boys and some very pretty girls have become very ugly people because of the gentrificational change of the neighborhood. Because of the loss of the great community….I’m here [at Deco Lounge] because these people are my family. I would probably be pushing a shopping cart if it wasn’t for this place and my friends and my family that have been with me through the ups and the downs of my life.”


Cecilia Chung. Photo by Gabriela Hasbun

Cecilia Chung, Chair of Human Rights Coalition

“There’s a lot of [transgender] girls that would only feel safe in this neighborhood. Even today….It's sad to see that some of the hotels that used to be residential hotels that the girls could check into, they don't exist anymore.….You’re talking about folks who might be HIV positive, have no means to support themselves, have nothing to wake up for in the morning. And yet, in spite of all these challenges, they manage to find reasons to wake up and live. That’s resilience. That’s something you cannot take away from this community. Regardless of what your belief system is.


Coy Ellison. Photo by Gabriela Hasbun

Coy, former bouncer and local activist

“There’s a big sense of loss….The opportunities are going away for people who are coming to the city trying to find themselves. You can find a job on Polk Street for about minimum wage right now but you can't afford an apartment with minimum wage, or a rooming house with minimum wage…and the straighter it’s become [and] the more gentrification that’s going on it seems like it s gotten a little more aggressive. It’s not as gay friendly….As far as the economy and the general attitude of the street, it's changed a lot.”