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    In Memoriam

    otisOtis Charles, First Openly Gay Bishop

    April 24, 1926 – December 26, 2013

    The Rt. Rev. Otis Charles died peacefully on December 26, 2013, at San Francisco’s Coming Home Hospice, following a brief illness. Charles was with family at his bedside at the time of his death.

    Charles was the eighth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah. Soon after his retirement in 1993, he came out as an openly gay man, making him the first openly gay bishop of any Christian denomination. He relocated to San Francisco, where he helped to found Oasis California, the LGBT Ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of California that seeks to open dialogue between LGBT communities and the congregations in which they worship.

    Following his coming out, Charles retained his voting seat in the 300-plus member House of Bishops. Before and following his announcement, he was an active and forceful advocate on behalf of LGBT communities. In 1979, Charles was one of 17 dissenting bishops when the Episcopal Church’s General Convention stated that practicing homosexual clergy were prohibited from ordination  – a decision that continues to generate controversy to this day. In 1999, Charles was arrested and led away in handcuffs for his civil disobedience at the Church’s General Convention in Denver, Colorado, during a protest against what demonstrators described as the Church’s long history of oppression against gays and lesbians.

    Charles married Dr. Felipe Sanchez-Paris on September 29, 2008. Sanchez-Paris died on July 31, 2013. The two appear in the documentary film Love Free or Die, testifying about a resolution
    directing the Episcopal Church to create a provisional rite for the blessing of same-gender relationships.

    Charles is survived by his first spouse, five children, 10 grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, three children of Sanchez-Paris, and his San Francisco family. Plans for a memorial service are pending.

    reaf co-founderREAF Co-Founder Barbara Richmond

    December 20, 1925 – January 4, 2014

    REAF co-founder Barbara Richmond passed quietly in her home Saturday evening, January 4, 2014, from her battle with cancer. She is survived by her daughter Jeanne Goldman, son-in-law Scott Goldman and grandson Michael.

    Barbara and REAF’s other co-founder, Peggy Ermet, were lifelong friends who both had sons that were diagnosed with AIDS in the mid 1980s. Barbara’s son John died in 1990. During a subsequent TV interview, Barbara recalled that “he died on Mother’s Day — and it was the nicest gift I ever received — because he was free. He was out of pain.” John had been an avid theater buff and worked as an artist, set designer, costume
    designer and had enjoyed close friendships with many local members of the theater and cabaret world. Friends honored his passing with a benefit performance to raise funds for Visiting Nurses and Hospice, the agency that helped care for her son before he died.

    Four years later, when Peggy’s son Doug passed, Barbara was one of Peggy’s main sources of support. Rather than give in to their grief, the two women decided to take action. They enlisted the help of friends Joe Seiler and Ken Henderson, who had been close friends of Doug Ermet, to produce a second benefit titled “Help is on the Way: San Francisco Cares,” also benefiting Visiting Nurses and Hospice of SF and Coming Home Hospice. “Help is on the Way: San Francisco Cares” was a sold-out show at the Palace of Fine Arts and raised a $57,000 profit.

    With the success of this first benefit, Barbara, Peggy, Joe and Ken decided to officially create a non-profit to continue to raise funds for the kinds of agencies that took care of their sons before they died. They named it The Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation, and it is still going strong to this day. When asked once why they choose to create a foundation like this, Barbara explained, “I took care of my son before he died and I took care of a number of his friends before they died. I can’t take care of any more dying boys,but this is something I can do. And it’s something John would have liked.”

    A celebration of her life is being planned and will be announced soon. Her family has requested that donations in her honor be made to The Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation, www.richmondermet.org/reaf10.1/index.htm.