Recent Comments

    In the News: 1.12.2017

    Compiled by Dennis McMillan

    Mayor Lee Appoints Jeff Sheehy As First Openly HIV-Positive Supervisor

    Mayor Edwin M. Lee announced the appointment of Jeff Sheehy as District 8 Supervisor, filling newly-elected State Senator Scott Wiener’s vacant seat on the Board of Supervisors. Sheehy will be the first person openly living with HIV to serve on the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco history. Sheehy is a long-time HIV/AIDS activist and pioneer for LGBT equality who has dedicated his life to public and community service. As former President of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, as former Mayor Newsom’s advisor on HIV/AIDS, and as a victim advocate in the San Francisco District Attorney’s office before that, Sheehy has been on the front lines fighting inequality and injustice for disenfranchised populations. Twenty years ago, he helped create and defend San Francisco’s historic Equal Benefits Ordinance, making San Francisco the first city in the country to require employers with city contracts to offer equal benefits to their employees’ domestic partners. Similar measures were eventually passed by the State of California and municipalities around the country, and more than 4,000 companies have complied, providing desperately needed benefits to LGBT Americans across the country. More recently, he has led communications at UCSF AID Research Institute since 2000, educating the public on the groundbreaking work of UCSF’s HIV researchers. Sheehy is also a founding member of the Steering Committee of San Francisco’s Getting to Zero Consortium aimed to make the City the first municipality to achieve the UNAIDS goals of zero new infections, zero HIV deaths and zero HIV stigma.

    New Police Chiefs Announced in San Francisco, Oakland

    New police chiefs were announced on both sides of the Bay. On December 20, Mayor Ed Lee said that he would appoint Bill Scott, Deputy Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, to serve as Chief of the San Francisco Police Department. Deputy Chief Scott will succeed Interim Chief Toney Chaplin, who was asked by Mayor Lee to lead SFPD after the resignation of former Police Chief Greg Suhr. Scott will lead SFPD as it undertakes key reforms laid out by the Department of Justice. During the last 16 years, the LAPD has adopted and enacted dozens of major reforms, including overhauling its tools for tracking officer misconduct, investigations into cases involving force by officers, training, an independent watchdog office and more. As for Oakland, Mayor Libby Schaaf on January 4 announced the appointment of Anne Kirkpatrick as the city’s new Police Chief. Kirkpatrick, the first female to hold this position in Oakland, has 34 years of law enforcement experience, and most recently worked to lead reform efforts in Chicago. “I do have the courage to hold officers accountable, but that includes myself,” Kirkpatrick said at the news conference. “But also to the men and women of the Oakland Police Department, in this chief, I have the courage to stand by you.”,

    Thrillpeddlers Need to Vacate Hypnodrome Theatre

    Thrillpeddlers, the award-winning quirky and scrappy little theatre-that-could, and artistic director Russell Blackwood were saddened to announce that due to a sudden sale of the building that has been their home since 2004, they must vacate the premises by the end of next month. The company—which for 17 years has performed an annual Shocktoberfest, and of late has had major successes with revivals of many 1970s Cockettes musicals (working with composer and original Cockette Scrumbly Koldewyn)—has announced the final shows at the theatre, while they regroup and see what opportunities present themselves. This sudden change in their plans directly affects two upcoming offerings that have been cast, and one of which that just began rehearsals. Amazon Apocalypse, a new musical with book and lyrics by Scrumbly Koldewyn and Cab Covay and music by Scrumbly Koldewyn, was slated to run February 23–April 15, and a revival of Cyberotica—Peter Fogel and Kelly Kittel’s Y2K rock musical—was scheduled for May 4–June 10. With the sudden news of the theatre’s closure, Amazon Apocalypse will be presented as a semi-staged concert for only 3 nights.

    Transgender Law Center Offers New Resource on Changing Gender Markers on Birth Certificates

    The Transgender Law Center has created a new resource, “State-by-State Overview: Rules for Changing Gender Markers on Birth Certificates.” As the center mentions, some states require a court order, some require surgery, some require a doctor’s letter and a few do not permit gender marker changes. In California, with a doctor’s letter, there is no surgical requirement. To access the new resource, go to:

    Café Flore May Soon Be the Site of San Francisco’s First Cannabis Café

    Café Flore, a gathering spot in the Castro for 44 years, has new owners, Terrance Alan and Aaron Silverman, who wish to turn the business into San Francisco’s first cannabis café, according to the Bay Area Reporter and Hoodline. Stu Gerry, the current owner, and J.D. Petras, the property owner, will remain on as minority owners. Alan’s biography at Medical Jane reports that he “became an inadvertent cannabis activist after more than 150 SWAT, DEA, CHP and SFPD officer raided his home, pinned him and his lover to the ground with guns in their faces. He had been growing medical marijuana for himself and Randal, his lover of 12 years, under the auspice of Prop P, which recommended marijuana as a treatment to stimulate appetite, reduce nausea and relieve pain.” Marijuana legalization in California via voter approval of Proposition 64 could usher in many other cannabis-inspired cafes in San Francisco and throughout the state.,,

    After Orlando to Be Presented at Oakland City Hall

    The Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando on June 12 last year impacted a number of issues that are particularly relevant post the recent election: LGBTQ rights, gun violence, Islamophobia, and also anti-Latino/anti-immigrant prejudice. As a response to the massacre, artists Caridad Svich, Zac Cline and Blair Baker invited playwrights to participate in an international theater action called After Orlando. Seventy playwrights responded to the call. On Friday, January 13, Brava Theatre will be sharing this important work at Oakland City Hall, Council Chambers at 7 pm, with doors opening at 6:30 pm. There is a suggested donation of $10–20. No one will be turned away for lack of funds, however. Profits from proceeds will benefit a local charity.

    Kate Brown Sworn in As America’s First Openly LGBT Elected Governor

    Oregon Gov. Kate Brown makes history as the first openly LGBT person elected governor of any state and the first openly bi governor in history. Gov. Kate Brown was sworn in for the first time as Oregon’s elected governor on January 9 in Salem and outlined her agenda for the 2017 legislative session. In a speech that also served as Brown’s State of the State address, she balanced aspirations for Oregon in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential victory against the hard reality of a looming partisan fight over state spending. Brown didn’t name Trump, but presented Oregon as a refuge from some of the racist and partisan rhetoric stirred by last year’s election.

    London Breed Unanimously Re-elected as President of Board of Supervisors

    London Breed of District 5 was sworn in for her second term on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and she said she was proud and honored to be unanimously re-elected as President. “I want to thank the residents of District 5 and volunteers who made my re-election as Supervisor a success, and my colleagues for supporting my re-election as President,” she stated. Breed celebrated with her constituents on January 9 at 1538 Fillmore Street.

    Castro Artist Shares Inspiration for Vibrant Tributes to Fallen Stars

    After the passing of Carrie Fisher and the Christmas Day passing of George Michael, a memorial tribute to the two stars emerged at the corner of 18th and Castro created by Castro resident and artist Joe Martinez. Due to the positive reception, Martinez decided to also make a tribute for Debbie Reynolds, mother to Carrie Fisher, who passed away one day after her daughter’s death, at the age of 84. On making the tribute to Fisher, Martinez said that “growing up a gay nerd, I idolized her ever since those iconic hairstyles, kick-ass action sequences and snappy comebacks scorched my retinas. She was just amazing.” On George Michael, Martinez said, “He was amazing, a truly gifted talent.” Martinez feels “many blacklisted or turned their backs on him after that ‘bathroom scandal.'” Overall, Martinez noted that “all three share qualities of complicated people … outsiders, perhaps.” As a queer Latino, he says, “I definitely feel for outsiders and usually root for them. In this case I mourn for them.”

    Castro Country Club Family Just Grew by One

    After a rigorous search and interview process, the clean and sober Castro Country Club has hired a new Café Manager. Brandon Stanton has a long history of service to the community. “We are thrilled to have him as part of our team,” said Billy Lemon, Executive Director of Castro Country Club. “Help us welcome Brandon by visiting the CCC to say hello and introduce yourself.” Lemon added, “At this time of year, we’re reminded how fortunate we are to have a place like the Castro Country Club in San Francisco. To keep the Club open 365 days a year, we rely on your generosity. Quite simply, there wouldn’t be a clean and sober Club in the heart of the Castro without your financial support.”

    Congresswoman Barbara Lee Sworn in as Member of 115th Congress

    When Congresswoman Barbara Lee was sworn in as a member of the 115th Congress, she released the following statement: “In these uncertain times, I am honored to be a member of the Democratic Caucus, a caucus in which women, people of color, and LGBT Americans constitute an historic majority. Our caucus looks and thinks like America and our strength comes from our diversity. Together we will work to bring an end to systemic racism in this country and provide the solutions necessary to address economic inequality.” She added, “The trust and confidence my constituents have placed in me once again strengthens my resolve and determination in these trying times. Lee promised a progressive resistance to Republicans and to remain “united against the voices of division and hatred trying to undermine the progress we’ve made over the past eight years.”

    SFPL to Forgive Fines on Returned Library Books

    Now through February 14, the San Francisco Public Library will be forgiving the fines on all returned items, regardless of how long they are overdue. They will also be forgiving pre-existing fines on patron’s accounts. There are currently over 55K patrons with overdue fines preventing them from borrowing items. They have held two prior fine amnesties, but this will be the longest running one at six weeks. They expect to forgo between $15,975 and $76,782 in fines and recover between $40,725 and $203,775 in items.

    California First in Nation to Fund Inmate’s Gender Confirmation Surgery

    A 57-year-old convicted killer serving a life sentence in California became the first U.S. inmate to receive state-funded sex-reassignment surgery, the prisoner’s attorneys confirmed. “For too long, institutions have ignored doctors and casually dismissed medically necessary and life-saving care for transgender people just because of who we are,” said Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Transgender Law Center, which represents Quine and other transgender inmates. Hayashi said the surgery fulfills a landmark legal settlement and is a victory for “all transgender people who have ever been denied the medical care we need.” Quine previously wrote that her presence in the men’s prison creates “confusion and mixed emotions from the males that go from romantic thoughts to disgust and explosive turmoil reactions.” She will be moved to a women’s prison following the operation, which was performed at a hospital in San Francisco, her attorneys said.