The Queer Toothache That Comes From Walking Past San Francisco’s Honey Bear Murals

Straight men invading LGBTQI+ spaces is as historied as it is harmful

Matt Charnock
6 min readApr 29, 2021


Photo: Flickr/Hero 1 Cropped

I remember the first time I came by one of fnnch’s honey bear pieces. It was in 2018, the painted ursid — a mesmeric mix of sun-yellow Pantone colores juxtaposed against an otherwise utilitarian gray backdrop — was an innocent visual delight.

Its recent presence was welcomed by a passerby; I was far from the only person who filled their iPhone with pictures of the Haight-Ashbury bears. I eventually left after a few minutes, ambivalent; I was not pulled nor pushed in any single way; the bag of cellular waste and protein enzymes that I call my own carried on existing, unaffected.

The same level of indecision when I would find myself eyeing one of fnnch’s human-sized murals lingered for some time. But by the very nature of my job — someone who makes a living by publishing timely syntax and diction and SEO-friendly articles — my equivocation and familiarity with his work began shifting, albeit slowly.

(Much like KQED’s Rae Alexandra — who wrote what can only be described as an absolute mic drop on the controversy swirling around fnnch’s artwork — I, too, called his pieces the “most Instagram-able” murals in San Francisco… more times than I’d care to publicly admit.)

I plugged fnnch’s honey bears in listicles. I waxed on the cis-heterosexual white man’s occasional philanthropic niceties. I explained how denizens of the city could purchase print copies of the former tech employee’s honey bear murals. I glowed about his Covid-19-themed honey bears that doubled as PSAs for mask-wearing.

I, rather embarrassingly, became a passive consumer of his artwork.

But my unbothered opinion on fnnch however quickly evolved into a repressed rage as his murals began morphing into fixtures of gentrification. Like suffocating canaries in a coal mine, the appearance of fnnch’s…



Matt Charnock

SF transplant, coffee shop frequent; tiny living enthusiast. iPhone hasn’t been off silent mode in nine or so years. Former EIC of The Bold Italic.