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    First San Francisco Bay Times Cover Featured Tom Ammiano, Author of New Memoir

    It is a little-known fact that the first cover of the San Francisco Bay Times featured former state assemblyman and San Francisco supervisor Tom Ammiano. One reason is because Ammiano had not yet held political office when the photo was taken in 1978 by renowned LGBTQ photographer Efren Convento Ramirez. Dedicated activist Ammiano, however, had already founded a gay teachers’ organization and, with Harvey Milk and Hank Wilson, founded “No on 6” against the Briggs Initiative in 1977.

    At the time, Ammiano was a special education teacher in the San Francisco Unified School District. The cover shows him with several students in one of his classes. Graphic artist Ken Gould replicated the photo four times, showing the gradual disappearance of Ammiano. As then Bay Times news editor Randy Alfred wrote in the accompanying story “Initiative Threatens Teachers”: “The proposed ballot measure [Briggs Initiative] would allow local school boards to fire or refuse to hire homosexual teachers or teachers who espouse civil rights for homosexuals. The law’s provisions would also apply to teacher’s aides, counselors, and school administrators.”

    Thanks to the work of Ammiano and dedicated others, the initiative—sponsored by Orange County state legislator John Briggs—was defeated. Ammiano was not erased from his teaching job; far from it. He retired from the SFUSD in 1990.

    New ‘Tell-All’ Memoir

    The Briggs fight and teaching efforts are just a few of the many achievements addressed in Ammiano’s self-described “trip down the Yellow Brick Road through activism, stand-up, and politics.” Reading the newly published Kiss My Gay Ass (Bay Guardian Books, 2020) authored by Ammiano, you can take a trip down the Yellow Brick Road with him and relive through his mischievous eyes important moments of the past five decades of LGBTQ history. You will meet many other important individuals along the way, such as Milk—the focus of the featured excerpt.

    As Ammiano says, the book settles a few personal scores, corrects what he feels were inaccuracies in other chronicles of city history, and includes some juicy gossip, such as what happened when he met a handsome soldier on the Greyhound bus he took to San Francisco.

    The San Francisco Bay Times highly recommends Ammiano’s entertaining memoir for anyone hoping to learn about LGBTQ activism, San Francisco’s often bloodsport politics, and Ammiano himself, who remains a very influential member of our community and who is now mentoring and inspiring the next generation of progressive leaders.

    For more information and to order the memoir: https://48hills.org/product/tom-ammianos-kiss-my-gay-ass/

    Published on May 20, 2020