Recent Comments


    In Case You Missed It 1.27.22

    By Joanie Juster–

    Donation Love Throughout the Year

    If you’re like me, you might have experienced a flood of emails during the last two weeks of December from every nonprofit you have ever supported (and probably a few you haven’t) proclaiming this is your LAST CHANCE to make a tax-deductible donation before the year’s end. Confession: I delete them.

    It isn’t that I don’t love and support the work of these organizations, because I do.

    And it isn’t because I don’t think they need and deserve my support, because they do.

    But as someone who has had to write some of those year-end solicitation letters myself, I know one thing to be true:

    Nonprofits don’t just need our support in December. They need it every month.

    So, here’s my challenge to you: Spread your donation love throughout the year. Your favorite causes will be thrilled to receive your donation in February, or May, or August, not just in December. And if you really want to help an organization—especially the smaller ones—become a monthly donor. Even a modest amount, when given monthly, makes a world of difference for a nonprofit.

    SOMA Second Saturdays Presents Game Day and More

    After a successful indoor holiday debut, the Leather & LGBTQ Cultural District has announced plans for more indoor winter events.

    Up first is Game Day on February 12 from 12–5 pm at the Folsom Street Community Center, at 145 9th Street. Plans for games—with a twist, of course!—include Kinky Pictionary, Taboo, SOMA Trivia, UNO Dare!, and many more. Enjoy the games, and free snacks and non-alcoholic beverages. Applicable COVID-19 precautions will be enforced, so bring your proof of vaccination and ID, and mask up. Volunteers are still needed for two shifts; for more info or to sign up contact

    Mark your calendar for more SOMA Second Saturdays:
    March 12 – Movie Day
    April 9 – SOMA Second Saturdays returns to the streets
    Booth applications for artists and craftspeople will open soon; stay tuned.

    Dr. Monica Gandhi Brings Focus Back to AIDS

    As San Francisco has been at the forefront of battling COVID-19, critical resources have been drawn from a pandemic that has been going on for 40 years, according to Dr. Monica Gandhi, who is not only a widely respected infectious disease expert and leading voice on COVID-19, but she is also the medical director of Ward 86, the HIV Clinic at San Francisco General Hospital.

    “The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a lot of setbacks in the city’s HIV response. I think the COVID response in the city did deflect resources and interest in combating HIV/AIDS, but I also think that HIV has been losing attention for some time. We need to refocus our efforts on the care and treatment of people with HIV and on prevention of HIV in San Francisco,” said Dr. Gandhi, quoted in a blog post by AIDS activist Hank Trout on the SF AIDS Foundation website. The post also cited some disturbing trends in San Francisco during the time of COVID:

    • HIV testing was down by 44% at community testing sites from 2019 to 2020. Since HIV testing is a key strategy for identifying people with HIV early in order to prevent transmission, this huge drop in testing is worrisome.
    • Rates of viral suppression (being “undetectable”) dropped from 75% to 70% from 2109 to 2020. More disturbing, among the unhoused, viral suppression rates dropped from 50% to 20%, while overdose deaths skyrocketed.
    • Many scientists and researchers were pulled from their HIV/AIDS work to work on COVID, and funding was diverted.
    • During lockdowns and social distancing, trips to clinics decreased, which interrupted testing and early treatment of HIV.

    Dr. Gandhi’s call to action: “I think the HIV treating community, i.e. healthcare workers, need to team up with activists, community, and patients like we did in the 80s to again raise awareness that HIV is not over and that more resources and support should go towards HIV/AIDS. Our strength in HIV activism has always been researchers, clinicians, patients, advocates, and activists working together. We need to do this again to ‘take back’ HIV as a major priority in our city.”

    Read Hank Trout’s full article here:

    Good News for LGBTQ+ Elders: Survivor’s Benefits Now Available

    The legalization of same-sex marriage brought a certain measure of equality to LGBTQ+ couples, but they were still left without critical protection in one major area that becomes more crucial as they age: Social Security survivor’s benefits.

    According to the National Center on Law & Elder Rights (NCLER), “whether they were barred from marriage throughout their committed relationships or they were finally able to marry, only to lose their beloveds less than nine months later, these survivors continued to feel the sting of discrimination even after marriage exclusions were struck down by the courts.”

    But there is now good news. Two recent court cases have fixed this oversight, and now the Social Security Administration can no longer deny survivor’s benefits to those same-sex survivors who could not previously meet the marriage-related requirements as a result of discriminatory laws.

    On January 19, NCLER presented a free webcast on survivor’s benefits. The webcast was recorded; watch and learn about your rights: 

    ICYMI: Free Forum on Mental Health, HIV/AIDS & LGBTQ+ Seniors

    The Howard Grayson LGBTQ Elder Life Conference and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation co-sponsored a virtual forum on January 22 titled To Your Queer Mental Health! HIV/AIDS, Mental Health, and Elders. The free Zoom event featured panelists Cecilia Chung from the Transgender Law Center; AIDS & human rights activist Cleve Jones; Derrick Mapp, Senior Services Care Navigator at Shanti Project; and Liliana Talero, Health Counselor at Shanti Project. The forum, led by co-chairs Gregg Cassin and Katherine von Rothschild Grayson, focused on a call to action for community resources to be allocated to mental health services, and to better integrate those services to support LGBTQ+ elders. The Zoom forum was recorded; for further information email

    Welcome to SFAF, Tyler TerMeer!

    Coverage concerning Dr. Tyler TerMeer, the new CEO of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, appears elsewhere in this edition. But I just wanted to offer my own congratulations to Dr. TerMeer. Besides his expertise in nonprofit leadership, HIV/AIDS policy and advocacy, Dr. TerMeer brings to SFAF his own experience as a person living with HIV, and as a person of color. He also has participated in the AIDS/Lifecycle an impressive 11 times. This is an historic and welcome step for SFAF.

    More Congratulations – To Sister Roma!

    In addition to their title as Most Photographed Nun in the World, San Francisco’s own Sister Roma has now been elected Mistress of Novices (MoN) of the San Francisco Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Their duties will include guiding all volunteers, aspirants, and Novices through the membership process. So, if you’ve always wanted to serve the community by joining the Sisters, Sister Roma will be there to help you.

    Roma shared their excitement over this new role on their Facebook page: “Believe it or not, in my 35 years as a Sister, this is my very first official leadership role in the Order. I am committed to see us continue to evolve and grow to become even more diverse and inclusive to reflect the many communities we strive to serve.”

    Congratulations, dear Roma! We are all grateful for your service.

    Honoring Val Bias

    The community lost a giant when Val Bias died on December 30. Bias, who overcame the effects of hemophilia that disabled him as a child, successfully advocated on a national and international level for better health care for those with hemophilia and HIV/AIDS. He was 63.

    A survivor of both hemophilia and AIDS, Bias became co-chairman of the National Hemophilia Foundation’s Blood Safety Working Group and encouraged the Federal Drug Administration to mandate testing on all blood donations.

    John Cunningham, CEO of the National AIDS Memorial, said of Bias: “Occasionally, there are people who enter our lives who are transformative in spirit, heart, and action. Val was one of those people. His commitment in creating the Hemophilia Memorial Circle within the National AIDS Memorial Grove brought our two communities together to bring hope, healing, and remembrance, ensuring that the painful story of the hemophilia community and AIDS is forever known.”

    A Val Bias Memorial Fund has been established at the National AIDS Memorial, and a celebration of his life is planned for this spring in the Hemophilia Memorial Circle in the Grove. Bias was filmed as part of the National AIDS Memorial Surviving Voices mini-documentary, The National Hemophilia Community & AIDS

    @JeopardAmy Wins Hearts and Minds

    If you haven’t been watching Jeopardy! for the past few weeks, you’ve missed a dazzling and historic winning streak by Oakland resident Amy Schneider, a trans woman who as of this writing is the second-most winning contestant in Jeopardy! history. She is not only piling up impressive winnings on the show, but also winning hearts and minds with her witty, charmingly down-to-earth posts on Twitter as @JeopardAmy. Go, Amy, go!

    Election Season Is Here: Do You Know Where to Vote?

    San Franciscans are facing a dizzying array of elections this year. The first one is the Consolidated Special Municipal Election on February 15. Ballots have already been mailed out—have you received yours? And do you know how to submit your ballot so your vote is counted?

    You can vote by mail (and track your ballot online).

    You can vote in person at your designated polling place on Election Day, or at the City Hall Voting Center from January 18 to February 15.

    And new this year! You can drop off your ballot at one of the 34 official ballot drop boxes that are popping in neighborhoods across the city. The boxes bear the official seal of the City and County of San Francisco, and are clearly marked “Official Ballot Drop Box.”

    Still have more questions? Call (415) 554-4375, or visit

    But the important thing is: VOTE!

    Stay Safe!

    I know it’s hard, folks, and this pandemic seems to be dragging on and on, but PLEASE hang in there and stick to the safety protocols. Wear your N95, wash your hands, and keep your distance. If we all do our part, it will, eventually, get better for all of us.

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