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    In the News 10.21.21

    By Joanie Juster–

    (Editor’s Note: Members of our San Francisco Bay Times team have long admired Joanie Juster for her talent as a writer. Her moving words were featured prominently in our October 19, 2017, issue concerning the Napa, Lake, Sonoma, Mendocino and Solano County fires ( ). For decades, we have also admired her work directly benefiting women, the LGBTQ community, and others.

    Joanie as an LGBTQ community ally particularly has been a tireless fundraiser for HIV/AIDS nonprofits and has devoted years of service in various ways including volunteering for Shanti, serving on the board of AIDS Emergency Fund, holding the Reader Coordinator title for over three decades at AIDS Memorial Quilt/National AIDS Memorial, and being a team coordinator for AIDS Walk San Francisco. In recognition of these and other efforts, she received the Heritage of Pride award for service from SF Pride in 2016.

    Through the Breast Cancer Emergency Fund and now Bay Area Cancer Connections, she has also worked to help those diagnosed with breast and ovarian cancer.

    This issue of the Bay Times presents the first “In the News” column authored by Juster. In this ongoing column she will be sharing news about people and events affecting our community, as well as ways you can have a positive impact. Send tips to her at )

    The LEATHER & LGBTQ Cultural District Wraps Up SOMA Second Saturdays Season, Hires First Executive Director 

    Bob Goldfarb, President of The LEATHER & LGBTQ Cultural District, has accepted the new position of District Executive Director. As such, he has resigned from his seat on the board of directors, which he has held since 2019. Other board moves include: Bob Brown has been elected President, Eric See will serve as both Vice President and Secretary, and Val Langmuir as Treasurer. The board will appoint another member to the vacant seat to serve the remainder of the term.

    On October 9, the District wrapped up a successful six-month run of “SOMA Second Saturdays!” events in conjunction with Folsom Street and the SOMA West Community Benefit District. As the city started to open up in May, the three organizations partnered to provide safe and fun events for the leather and kink communities to gather, and also to provide artists and craftspeople a venue to sell their work after the long shelter-in-place. The events also brought much-needed revenue to local businesses that had been so severely impacted by the pandemic. Stay tuned for plans for winter events.

    Long-Term Survivors Organize Panel-Making Workshops for AIDS Quilt

    In January 2020, the AIDS Memorial Quilt, which had been operating in Atlanta since leaving San Francisco in 1999, returned to the Bay Area as part of the National AIDS Memorial. Plans were underway for a major display in Golden Gate Park in April 2020 before COVID-19 changed everything.

    The display was cancelled. And instead of preparing a display, Gert McMullin, who has taken care of the Quilt since its inception in 1987, pivoted to helping yet another pandemic, by sewing thousands of masks for first responders and caregivers. Now, in preparation for World AIDS Day on December 1, Gregg Cassin, who organizes programs for long-term survivors of HIV and AIDS through Honoring Our Experience, has been leading groups to the Quilt’s workshop in San Leandro to meet Gert, tour the workshop, learn the Quilt’s history and lore, and learn how to make new panels for the Quilt. According to Cassin, “This is an opportunity for us to memorialize and honor our loved ones. The Quilt Panel Making Workshop is an opportunity to experience the healing power of community.” Sewing experience is not required. Rides to the workshop can be arranged. Information: Contact Gregg Cassin at

    National Coming Out Day 2021

    Each year on National Coming Out Day, more and more people find the courage to come out to their family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers, often under difficult circumstances. There is great power in sharing your stories, whether in writing, on film, or in person. You never know who will be inspired to take meaningful action in their own life because you shared yours.

    This year, a documentary film about a powerful coming-out story used National Coming Out Day to make a plea to allies to “come out” as well. In an in-depth interview on Good Day LA, Barbara Brass and Col. Pat Thompson, the subjects of the film Surviving the Silence, talked about the importance of coming out—whether as LGBTQ or as an ally. Their challenge:

    O. #OutYourselfAsAnAlly
    U. Understand Your Impact
    T. Tell the Truth

    To watch the interview:

    Surviving the Silence became available on streaming platforms (AppleTV, Amazon Prime, Google Play and more) on October 19.

    LYRIC Names New Executive Director

    Laura Lala-Chávez has been named the new Executive Director of LYRIC, the Bay Area’s leading organization offering expertise in youth workforce development, healthcare navigation, individual counseling, and group-based community building to marginalized low-income LGBTQQ+ youth. Lala-Chávez will start on October 25, bringing over 25 years’ experience in youth development, counseling, and nonprofit management to LYRIC.

    LYRIC’s longtime former Executive Director Jodi L. Schwartz continues as President to oversee the ongoing capital campaign through December 2021 to renovate LYRIC’s landmark home in San Francisco’s Castro District, allowing for increased program opportunities for youth. Interim Executive Director Toni Newman, who will remain through November 2021 to support Lala-Chávez’s executive transition, was recently named as interim CEO for the Black AIDS Institute.

    Big News for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

    Twenty years ago, San Francisco’s legendary AIDS Emergency Fund—which had been providing financial assistance to people with AIDS & HIV since 1982—created a partner organization to help women and men struggling financially through breast cancer treatment. After serving clients in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara since 2001, Breast Cancer Emergency Fund (BCEF) has now merged with another long-standing Bay Area service organization: Bay Area Cancer Connections (BACC), which provides a full continuum of services—completely free—to patients with breast and ovarian cancer. So BCEF is now BOCEF: the Breast and Ovarian Cancer Emergency Fund, a program of BACC.

    While many of BACC’s services had to go virtual during the pandemic, they have continued to provide fittings for free wigs and prosthetic garments, and are about to launch a mobile van to make it easier for clients to access these services. Breast Cancer Emergency Fund has deep roots in the LGBTQ community, and hopes that the community groups and individuals who have supported them for the past 20 years will join them on this next step in their journey. More updates will be coming soon, including about BACC’s annual cancer conference in November.

    Pioneering Lesbian Activists Inducted into California Hall of Fame

    Phyllis Lyon and Dorothy “Del” Martin were trailblazing activists who spent their lives advancing civil rights and equality as leaders of the LGBTQ+ and women’s rights movements. Now they have been inducted into the California Hall of Fame, which was established at the California Museum in 2006 to honor legendary people who embody California’s innovative spirit and have made their mark on history. 

    And what a mark Lyon and Martin made. San Franciscans since 1953, their forward-thinking activism included founding organizations (Daughters of Bilitis was the first nationwide lesbian organization, founded 1955), and publications, as well as changing established organizations from within (demanding lesbian recognition within the National Organization of Women). They were leaders in the fight to decriminalize and destigmatize homosexuality. Their influence was felt from San Francisco to the White House and beyond. And in 2008, their lifelong fight for equal treatment under the law was rewarded when the California Supreme Court declared same-sex marriages legal, and they were married in California’s first legal same-sex union.

    First Trans Person Sworn in on SFO Airport Commission

    Congratulations to Jane Natoli, the first-ever openly trans person sworn in on San Francisco International Airport’s powerful 5-person airport commission, which establishes the policies by which the airport operates. Natoli is an advocate for safe and affordable transit and the LGBTQ+ community. She currently serves on the Board of the San Francisco LGBT Center, and as a Mayoral appointee on the Citizens’ General Obligation Bond Oversight Committee.

    “It’s an honor to be appointed to the Airport Commission and I want to thank Mayor London Breed for nominating me,” says Natoli. “San Francisco is an LGBTQ+ capital and SFO is the first entry point for so many people visiting and moving here and I want to ensure that SFO is as welcoming and inclusive to all folks as it can be.”

    Volunteer Opportunities in the Age of COVID

    During the pandemic, as offices closed and events were cancelled, many of us missed volunteering for our favorite organizations and causes. As the Bay Area starts opening up again, we want to hear about volunteer opportunities, including ones that can be performed remotely or safely. Contact me at

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

    Published on October 21, 2021