Lesbian Tech Occasion Exits San Francisco After Neighbor Complaints

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, whose district includes Castro, acknowledged his constituents' ongoing concerns, telling The Standard, “The last two years have not been ideal, in my view.”

“Both years it went downhill to the point where it left a bad taste in the mouth of a lot of people in the neighborhood and a lot of businesses in the neighborhood,” he said.

However, Mandelman noted that the upcoming year-long renovation of the historic Castro Theater, which hosted the summit's speaker events, likely contributed to the decision to move the Lesbians Who Tech summit.

For local conference attendees like Tessa Brown, the San Francisco-based founder of encrypted messaging platform Germ Network, the exit from the conference is a real blow to the lesbian tech community, especially in an industry that remains so overwhelmingly male and is heterosexual.

Brown, who gave a workshop on communications and artificial intelligence at the Lesbians Who Tech summit, acknowledged that the event has actually probably outgrown Castro.

“There is an irony there because the Castro is there for anyone who needs it, regardless of gender identity,” she said. “The Castro is public space, and for a few days it really isn’t public space.”

Mandelman expressed hope that Lesbians Who Tech's move to the Big Apple would be temporary – and suggested finding a solution to bring one of San Francisco's premier lesbian professional conferences back to the city. This was also true for Brown, who appreciated only having to take a bus from her home in Twin Peaks to get to the summit.

But any return to Castro Street would likely have to come through an angry Castro community that feels burned by the summit.

“We do not welcome a complete takeover of our neighborhood to the exclusion of our entire community,” Bennett said.

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