Activist uses bully pulpit to draw attention to housing

Tommi Mecca on market street in the Castro San Francisco, CA
Tommi Mecca on market street in the Castro San Francisco, CA

It’s all about highlighting the city’s housing crisis for one San Francisco

Pride community grand marshal, and he’s using the bully pulpit that

comes with the honor to make sure the issue gets attention.

Longtime queer activist Tommi Avicolli Mecca has called the city home

for many years. Prior to moving to San Francisco, Avicolli Mecca lived

in Philadelphia, where he grew up in an Italian Catholic family.

As is typical for anyone who knows him, Avicolli Mecca looks at being

a grand marshal as much more than the attention it brings him


“I’m honored to be named a grand marshal, but I feel this is more about

the work I do in the community rather than me as some kind of

celebrity,” Avicolli Mecca said. “I want my contingent to be open to

anyone who wants to be in it, and certainly it will have housing is a

queer right as the theme, as a reminder to all of us that housing is our

issue, too.”

Avicolli Mecca believes that there is a housing crisis in the LGBT

community just as other groups in the city are also affected. But the

number of LGBTs identifying as homeless are staggering.

Last June, the biennial San Francisco Homeless Point-In-Time Count

and Survey was released and, for the first time, included statistics on

LGBT people. The 2013 report found that out of a total of 7,350

homeless people, more than one in four (29 percent) identified as

lesbian, gay, bisexual or “other,” for a total of 2,132.

Avicolli Mecca noted that about 3 percent of homeless identify as

transgender, and that 40 percent of homeless youth identify as queer.

“Where is the affordable housing in the Castro?” Avicolli Mecca asked.

“Where is the LGBT friendly affordable housing in the city? The LGBT

community hasn’t made housing a priority. It’s time to do it, and to do it


Advocating for affordable housing for 17 years – with an emphasis on

the LGBT community – Avicolli Mecca sees that more people are being

displaced now than during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, when

the city also saw a spike in evictions.


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