Goodbye Bubbles. SF Won’t be the Same Without Your Magical Weirdness.
Fucking Bubbles. I don’t know how many times I’ve said that phrase since I first met him in Dolores Park in 2014. In fact anyone who ever met Bubbles uttered that phrase at least once, whether in absolute awe, complete exasperation, or both simultaneously.
Bubbles was Bubbles. There are a lot of other things we can tack onto that like artist, DJ, rebel, queerdo, performer, nightlife staple. He was even an activist in his own way. Simply existing and boisterously being himself in this world was an act of defiance and activism. But really the only thing that properly described Bubbles was Bubbles. He was truly one of a kind.
This is why his murder early on Saturday morning in the Tenderloin has struck San Francisco so hard. For so many of us Bubbles was proof that San Francisco still had magic in it. That this city was still for everyone. That it was tolerant, and loving, and strange, and heartfelt. That if you didn’t belong anywhere else you still belonged in San Francisco. That The City allowed you to become who you were meant to be and that it would take you back even if you fucked up.
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And let’s be honest, Bubbles did fuck up. A lot. It was part of what made him Bubbles. The list of bars he was 86’d from is almost folkloric and his Facebook updates played out like a magnificent soap opera where he was often the only character. From live-streaming himself doing drugs to boasting that he was able to make rent because a “techie” paid him for a blowjob, you’d find yourself muttering the same refrain “Fucking Bubbles”.
But it’s not like Bubbles gave a shit what you thought anyways. And that’s what made him special. Bubbles lived his truth in a way that very few of us will ever have the courage to do. He wasn’t just fabulous Bubbles when cloistered in the (imagined) safety of San Francisco, he was Bubbles with the mustache and the wig and the bikini top even when traveling through places like Turkey. Bubbles was his own spirit animal. He did what Bubbles wanted, and only what Bubbles wanted, all the time. He could be a real motherfucker like that, but he was OUR motherfucker. And we loved him for it, even if sometimes begrudgingly.
I am absolutely gutted right now thinking of poor, sweet Bubbles bleeding to death on the sidewalk in the Tenderloin. That someone was so upset by the audacity of Bubbles’ existence, that they shot him to death in the streets of our city. Our city where people like Bubbles are supposed to be safe. Our city where people like us – all of us who don’t fit in anywhere else – are supposed to be safe. Bubbles identified as a man but with his mustache and his sparkly skirts and padded breasts, purposefully presented himself to the world as neither male nor female, but both, because that’s how he expressed his true self. It hurts to know that the man who shot Bubbles, the man who argued with him outside of the strip club and then chased him across the street and murdered him, it hurts to know that he probably just saw a queer freak in front of him instead of the richly complicated and complex individual that Bubbles was. It hurts to know that Bubbles was most likely murdered because he was unabashedly queer, and was unwilling to compromise that under any circumstances. It hurts to know that Bubbles was killed in the same neighborhood that will soon be designated the Transgender Cultural District. It hurts. It all hurts.
Fucking Bubbles. What’s left of San Francisco’s soul had another chunk taken out of it on Saturday morning when you died. I know you were planning on moving to Berlin at the end of the month and starting a new life there, but even all those miles away you’d still be ours because there would be no Bubbles without San Francisco, and San Francisco will never be the same without you.
If you want justice for Bubbles, call the police and City Hall and demand it.
If you’d like to contribute to a funeral and memorial for Bubbles please do so here.