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    Happy New Year! It’s a Matter of Attitude

    By Joanie Juster —

    Happy New Year!

    During the holidays it occurred to me that wishing people a Happy New Year constitutes the ultimate expression of hope over experience. Past experience has taught us that from impending climate apocalypse to political division and chaos, to the personal challenges each of us faces, there is always darned good reason to worry about what might happen in the year to come. Bad things are always going to happen; we don’t have a choice in the matter. But we do have a choice in how we deal with it. So, let’s choose hope. Let’s choose to take positive actions to make things better for everyone. Let’s choose kindness. And let’s choose joy. Happy New Year!

    Preparing for the Worst

    We are living in dangerous times. And, frankly, writing about the insanity going on around us can be hard. But these are conversations that must be had, so here goes.

    I grew up in the Cold War era. In elementary school, my generation practiced duck-and-cover drills in case of a nuclear attack – which, fortunately, never happened. But my eight-year-old great nephew has grown up practicing active shooter drills, because these attacks do happen, all too frequently, in our gun-addicted country: in schools, places of worship, theatres, supermarkets – and in nightclubs that were created as save havens for LGBTQ+ folks.

    The deadly shootings at Club Q in Colorado, at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando in 2016, as well as the escalating threats against the LGBTQ+ community across the country, have increased awareness of the need for preparedness in case of an attack.

    In the face of such threats, community groups Castro Community on Patrol and Community Patrol Services have been working on ways to help prepare and empower people in San Francisco. On December 21 they presented a free Active Shooter Workshop for the owners and managers of queer nightclubs, bars, and other businesses by providing skills and strategies to help prepare and defend in case of an attack.

    About 25 people attended this preliminary event, presented in coordination with local agencies including the San Francisco Police Department, San Francisco Fire Department, Department of Emergency Services, and the District Attorney’s office to ensure the material would be current and accurate. The class included establishing policies and protocols within organizations to help identify and prevent individuals who have violent intentions.

    CCOP and CPS are also engaging with San Francisco agencies to develop an ongoing framework for long-term planning and prevention methods, and will be holding public-facing events, including a popular Basic Self-Defense workshop.

    According to co-organizer Ken Craig of CCOP, the long-term goal is to establish a Community Safety Plan program to engage all members of the LGBTQ+ community in raising awareness, preparedness, responding effectively to any incident, and resiliency in post-incident recovery and aftermath navigation. This Community Safety Plan program will leverage the federal, state, and local resources who supported this initial class, to host future classes and provide support, assistance, training, and guidance to all program members into the future.

    They also plan to host trainings for members of the general public, including an “Active Shooter” class, and well as their popular “Community Self-Defense” basic classes.

    As dates and locations are finalized, they will be listed in this column. Stay tuned for updates.

    I wish I didn’t have to write about such things. But we need to be prepared to protect each other, and stay safe.

    And While We’re on the Subject…

    Also on the front lines of this same issue: the good folks at Drag Queen Story Hour. Their December email put some sad statistics right up front:

    • 124 anti-drag attacks in the US in 2022
    • 9 drag bans proposed in 2022
    • High schoolers hear 26 anti-LGBTQ slurs per day

    In today’s superheated political climate conservative extremists are targeting LGBTQ+ folks, and especially drag performers, by labeling them as “groomers” and “pedophiles,” spreading disinformation and sowing hate and fear everywhere they can. And they don’t stop there: they target allies as well, especially librarians, teachers, school board members, medical professionals, lawmakers, and basically anyone who dares to treat LGBTQ+ people with compassion, dignity, and humanity.

    Where is this all going? Historical precedent is not comforting, as anyone who has studied Nazi Germany can tell you. But in the meantime, we all owe profound thanks to every performer brave enough to put on a wig and sequined stilettos, to every librarian brave enough to defy book bans in their town, to every teacher who insists on teaching actual facts instead of sanitized lies, to every lawmaker who stands up to the haters to fight for equality for all of their constituents.

    We have work to do, friends. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.

    Save the Date

    More information coming soon, but in the meantime, here are some events worth putting on your calendar for February:

    2/11: Project Nunway is one of the most wildly fun and creative events of the year, because it is created by and for those wildly fun and creative folks, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Designers are paired with Sisters to create a high fashion look from recycled materials. All proceeds support the Sisters’ Grant Fund. Link for tickets coming soon.

    2/25: Imperial Council of San Francisco Coronation 58: Voting for the next Empress and Emperor of San Francisco will take place on Saturday, February 18, followed by a full week of events culminating in the coronation on February 25. Don’t miss it.

    2/17-21: Creating Change, the National LGBTQ Task Force’s annual conference is coming to San Francisco. This is the nation’s largest gathering of LGBTQ+ community activists and leaders. Over 3500 attendees are expected for this much-anticipated event.

    About All Those Emails…

    Remember all those emails you received in December warning you it was your “Last Chance” to support your favorite causes? Guess what: Nonprofits need your support every bit as much – and even more – in January than in December. Forget the annoying emails, and do what you can to support the causes you believe in. These are the folks working hard every day to protect your rights, the environment, our democracy, and everything else we hold dear. And if you can, sign up to be a monthly donor; even small amounts ever month make a big difference. Happy New Year, and remember to choose hope, kindness and joy.

    Joanie Juster is a long-time community volunteer, activist, and ally.

    In Case You Missed It
    Published on January 12, 2023