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    In The News: 11.10.2016

    Compiled by Dennis McMillan

    LGBT Center Hit by Thefts, Vandalism, Homophobic Graffiti

    A recent rash of burglaries and vandalism targeting the nonprofit Rainbow Community Center of Contra Costa has stirred up memories of a turbulent period of open anti-gay bias in Concord. The attacks on the Rainbow Center and the burning in April of a Clayton church’s rainbow flag, indicate that the LGBT community still faces bigotry in the famously liberal Bay Area. In the span of two weeks, thieves broke into the Rainbow Center’s office on Willow Pass Road four times. Concord police are treating the last incident as a hate crime because the culprits also scrawled homophobic graffiti on the exterior of the building. The burglars kicked in doors, forced open desk drawers and trashed offices. They stole seven laptops, a cash box, a projector, computer towers, flash drives and a credit card machine. The suspects also took a file containing donors’ financial information and fraudulently charged $10,000 and used a forged check to purchase $1,000 worth of goods at a Kohl’s. But a week before the first burglary in late September, a vandal threw a rock through the window of the Rainbow Center’s thrift store on Pacheco Boulevard. Two weeks ago, someone tried to kick in the shop’s door and broke the glass again.

    After 37 Years, Celebration of Craftswomen Canceled

    After much research and discussion, it has been decided not to produce the Celebration of Craftswomen. This annual event, which “Betty’s List” and the San Francisco Bay Times have frequently participated in, has been an important part of The Women’s Building for over 35 years. It had grown large enough to fill a giant hall at Fort Mason over two 3-day weekends. In recent years, as the commercial space in San Francisco has skyrocketed in price, it had become more and more difficult to secure space at an affordable rate. The Celebration of Craftswomen was traditionally held in late November, during Thanksgiving weekend and the start of the Holiday Shopping Season. After a year of waiting, Fort Mason has confirmed that they do not have space available during this time. Other event venues are prohibitively expensive. Changing the time of year for the fair would likely significantly reduce income for the artists. Reducing the size of the fair would only reduce the cost of production slightly, yet have a large impact on the income.

    Fix-It Program Pushes Forward in Castro with New Community Ambassadors

    Fix-It director Sandra Zuniga will be training five new community ambassadors. The paid staff—part of an entry-level training program that could eventually lead to future job opportunities for them with the City—will help to implement the Fix-It program on Castro streets, including cleaning up leaves and litter, removing graffiti, and calling in quality of life issues to 311. The Fix-It team has been continuing to address cleanliness and upkeep concerns around the Castro, as well as call in 311 issues. According to Zuniga, Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial Library remains a focal point of her team’s efforts, and Fix-It recently installed a new light on 16th Street to brighten the sidewalk around the library. A four-hour training session was divided between classroom and field training covering job duties, tools and equipment, safety practices, and customer service skills during the classroom training. On the streets, she and her team will lead the new ambassadors around the neighborhood, reinforcing classroom training, and demonstrating how to identify and report concerns to 311.

    CDC Report Says Sexually Transmitted Disease Rates Are Rising

    The most commonly reported sexually transmitted diseases reached an all-time high in 2015, according to the annual Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Between 2014 and 2015, cases of primary and secondary syphilis grew 19%, gonorrhea grew 12.8% and Chlamydia grew 5.9%, according to the report. The CDC blames state and local STD program budget cuts for the rise. Americans aged 15–24 accounted for most Chlamydia and gonorrhea diagnoses. Men who had sex with men accounted for the majority of new gonorrhea and primary and secondary syphilis cases. usatoday.Com

    Second Castro Station Escalator Upgrade Almost Done; Use of Rainbow Lights Still TBD

    This spring’s unveiling of the Castro Muni station’s rainbow escalator was a memorable moment for the neighborhood—and drew some mixed opinions. The escalator’s upgrade, the first of several at Castro Station, was significantly delayed: the SFMTA said last October that it would take four and a half months to replace it, but it didn’t debut until about seven months after construction began. The SFMTA has made better time with the station’s north entrance escalator, which closed for an upgrade in May, and is now saying that it will resume service later this month, five months after construction began. Once it reopens, construction will immediately begin on a third escalator: the inbound escalator that leads to the Castro Station platform. According to the SFMTA’s website, that escalator is similarly expected to be out of service for “about five months.” It’s still uncertain if the soon-to-debut new escalator, and Castro Station’s other upgraded escalators, will include rainbow features. The use of rainbow lights “has not yet been determined,” wrote SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose in an email. According to Rose, the initial plan was for the escalators to have traditional white lights. “If [rainbow lights] are something the community would like, we can certainly consider it.”

    Folsom Street Events Seeks New Executive Director

    As Demetri Moshoyannis is leaving Folsom Street Events to join Positive Resource Center as Managing Director of Strategic Partnerships, FSE is looking for a new Executive Director. This person must work diligently in many areas in order to properly oversee this nonprofit organization. These areas include management and administration, fundraising and finance, events management and program development, Board of Directors, and more. FSE is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco that produces nine annual events including dance parties, parades and two world-class street fairs that serve the adult alternative lifestyle communities. The mission of Folsom Street Events is to create world-class leather and fetish events that unite the adult alternative lifestyle communities with safe venues for self-expression and exciting entertainment. Their events raise funds to sustain San Francisco Bay Area-based and national charities.

    Pentagon to Same-Sex Domestic Partners: Get Married by New Year’s Eve, or Else

    In a move that is sure to create preholiday season stress for unmarried LGBTQ couples who work for the U.S. military as civilians, the Department of Defense is preparing to announce an ultimatum that it claims is meant to ensure “that both same-sex and opposite-sex couples are treated on an equal basis,” according to Pentagon documents revealing the military is ending all same-sex domestic partner benefits for civilian employees, effective December 31, 2016. The plan, according to the information prepared by the DoD, offers those who cannot plan, organize and commit to a wedding by New Year’s Eve the military equivalent of COBRA, known as Temporary Continuation of Coverage, or TSS. The only hitch is that these papers show those choosing this option “will be responsible for 100 percent of the premium payments.”

    Grand Opening Celebrates San Francisco’s Newest Park, Noe Valley Town Square

    Supervisor Scott Wiener was joined by State Senator Mark Leno and others in celebrating the newest park in the city. Wiener worked for the last six years on this project, including passing legislation to have the City purchase the parking lot on 24th Street, and then securing funding in the budget to help develop it. The Residents for Noe Valley Town Square organized community support, attended countless public hearings, and raised over $500,000 in private donations for the development of the park. They had support from state and federal grants, from Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Senator Leno, and Assemblymember David Chiu. City staff, most importantly from the Recreation and Parks Department, helped build a beautiful park in the heart of Noe Valley.

    Grass Roots Gay Rights Foundation Distributes Checks

    The Grass Roots Gay Rights Foundation invited the public to attend their Wrap-Up Party & Check Presentation. Their 2016 Season of Events has come to an end and they presented the ‘big check’ to their 2016 beneficiaries. This year, they were supporting the following worthy organizations: Project Homeless Connect, HIV Story Project, Dolores Street Community Services, LGBTQ Connection, New Conservatory Theatre Center, and The Trevor Project. The Foundation has raised and granted more than $2.3 million to promote a happy, healthy and connected Bay Area LGBT community over the last 27 years.

    Study Confirms Children of Gay and Lesbian Parents Are Well-Adjusted

    Science has shown once again that gay and lesbian parents are just as good at raising happy, healthy children as straight parents. Children’s behavioral issues are not impacted by the sexual orientation of their parents, but rather by parenting stress and other child adjustment issues, according to findings from a longitudinal study published in Developmental Psychology this month. “In these adoptive families diverse in parental sexual orientation, as has been found in many other family types, family processes emerged as more important than family structure to longitudinal child outcomes and family functioning,” explained the study’s author, University of Kentucky assistant professor and psychologist Rachel H. Farr. “Regardless of parental sexual orientation, children [in the study] had fewer behavior problems over time when their adoptive parents indicated experiencing less parenting stress.” The report also debunked a discredited study claiming kids from same-sex families have major developmental problems.

    Joshua O’Neal and Jared Hemming in New Director Roles at Strut

    Joshua O’Neal is the new Director of Sexual Health Services, and Jared Hemming is the new Strut Site Director. O’Neal started at San Francisco AIDS Foundation as Manager of Testing Services and then served as Interim Director of Strut before becoming Director of Sexual Health Services. Hemming’s tenure at Strut has included Magnet Community Organizer, Bridgemen Program Manager, and Interim Director of Community Engagement before accepting his new role of Strut Site Director. Strut is the relatively new home for health and wellness from San Francisco AIDS Foundation as a place where gay, bi and trans men can find tools and support to manage physical, emotional and social aspects of health.

    Mayor Lee Announces Opening of Three New Supportive Housing Buildings for Chronically Homeless Individuals

    Mayor Ed Lee and Jeff Kositsky, Director of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, recently announced that 244 new permanent supportive housing units will soon become available. Adding supportive housing is central to the City’s plan to end chronic homelessness. The extra housing will be added to San Francisco’s existing portfolio of over 6,200 units with the addition of: the Crown Hotel, the Winton Hotel and the National Hotel. These three buildings will provide homes to people currently living on our streets and in our shelters. Supportive Housing is a nationally recognized best practice in ending homelessness that combines long term affordability with onsite social services to ensure that our most vulnerable residents can maintain their housing and improve their health.