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    About Our Cover

    “I may think I have inalienable rights to be alive and happy, but I don’t—life is a blessing.”
    —Terrence McNally (1938–2020)

    The coronavirus pandemic has put many of us into the stages of grief and loss, initially because life as we once knew it is not possible at present, and now compounded by news of so many deaths worldwide due to COVID-19. As for the HIV/AIDS pandemic, it is becoming more common for most of us to have a personal connection to someone who has died as a result of the virus. Our cover features just some of the many victims of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic who were from the LGBTQ community.

    They include:

    • Mona Foot (Nashom Wooden), drag legend and performer;

    • Terrence McNally, Tony award-winning playwright;

    • Lorena Borjas, transgender advocate;

    • Tarlach MacNiallais, Irish LGBT activist;

    • Anthony Brooks, Texas councilman;

    • Phillip Tsai-Brooks, business owner;

    • George “Skip” Panse, member of the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida;

    • Israel Carrera, dancer and radiologist;

    • Ito Curata, fashion designer;

    • Shannon Bennett, Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputy;

    • Henrietta Robinson, entertainer and transgender activist; and others.

    The list could sadly go on, and will continue to grow. It also does not include allies, such as Gita Ramjee, a South African virologist renowned for her research in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Upon learning of her death, her colleague Gavin Churchyard told the BBC, “She dedicated many years of her life to finding HIV prevention solutions for women.”

    With tears streaming down his face, fashion designer Geoffrey Mac remembered on Instagram his close friend Wooden: “I lost my best friend today from the coronavirus,” he said last month. “And I just want to make sure that everybody out there stays healthy and takes care of each other because the virus is really real. And I’m just so sorry.”

    Anthony Brooks (42) and Phillip Tsai-Brooks (52) were a couple who died just two days apart. Phillip’s brother Alfred Tsai told The San Antonio Express-News: “Tony Brooks and Phillip Tsai loved each other so much, and they left this world together. It’s a love story that ended too soon in this world, but in heaven, it will last for eternity.”

    As we have all been reading, COVID-19 has led to the deaths of young and previously very healthy individuals, in addition to heavily impacting people of color and seniors with preexisting conditions. McNally had survived lung cancer and lived with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, yet he bravely forged on and continued with his prolific work until stricken with COVID-19. As the quote at the beginning of this piece indicates, he was constantly aware of his own mortality, and grateful for every moment of life.

    This issue of the San Francisco Bay Times honors all of these individuals, who have made valuable contributions both to and beyond our LGBTQ community.

    Published on April 23, 2020