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    In the News 12.2.21

    By Joanie Juster–

    The holidays are here, and events and social gatherings are back in a big way. From tree lightings to the Santa Skivvies Run to concerts, plays, and drag shows, there are plenty of choices to fill your social calendar. As we return to these in-person events, please remember to follow safety protocols so you and everyone else can stay safe and healthy.

    Campaign Season Comes to the Castro

    Just as we are kicking off the holiday season, it is also election season once again—with extra focus on the Castro and the all-important LGBTQ vote. 

    Governor Gavin Newsom has set February 15 as the date for the special primary election to fill the 17th District Assembly seat left vacant after David Chiu stepped down on November 1 to become San Francisco’s first Asian American city attorney. Chiu was appointed by Mayor London Breed after she named former city attorney Dennis Herrera the new general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. If no candidate secures more than 50% of the vote then the top two vote-getters advance to a runoff race April 19.

    Acknowledging the political importance of the LGBTQ vote, two of the top candidates for the Assembly seat have opened campaign headquarters in the Castro. David Campos, who is on leave as chief of staff to District Attorney Chesa Boudin, is renting the former Under One Roof space at 541 Castro Street, while District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney, a straight ally, has moved into the vacant retail space at 17th and Market, former home of Pottery Barn. Both spaces had previously housed campaign headquarters.

    Campos hosted a kickoff party for his headquarters on November 13; Haney‘s grand opening is slated for December 10. The candidates will be facing off in a debate at Manny’s, the café and event space owned by Manny Yekutiel, at 16th & Valencia on January 20.

    The two other candidates running to succeed Chiu—City College of San Francisco trustee Thea Selby and former Obama administration staffer Bilal Mahmood—are expected to open their campaign headquarters by early 2022.

    Groundbreaking Trans Journalists Honored

    Two groundbreaking trans journalists, Christina Kahrl and Monica Roberts, are being inducted into the LGBTQ Journalists Hall of Fame, as announced by NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists.

    Christina Kahrl is the sports editor for The San Francisco Chronicle, and the first out transgender editor at a major metropolitan media outlet. When Kahrl came out as transgender in 2002, she was the nation’s first openly trans sportswriter. She also became one of the first four internet-based writers accepted into the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, as well as its first out trans member, in 2008.

    In addition to her accomplishments as a journalist, Kahrl is a nationally known advocate for transgender civil rights. She has served on boards including GLAAD, the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, and Equality Illinois, and has worked with the Chicago Police Department and the Justice Department on improving police interactions with transgender citizens.

    Monica Roberts was a trailblazing blogger, writer, transgender advocate and activist, sports lover, and the founding editor of TransGriot, a blog that chronicled the lives and deaths of trans women, particularly trans women of color. Roberts described her blog as “A proud unapologetic Black trans woman speaking truth to power and discussing the world around her.” Her writing has been lauded for covering transgender issues more deeply and authentically than mainstream media outlets. Roberts passed away at her home in Houston in October 2021. Christina Kahrl praised her friend and fellow journalist, saying on Twitter, “Moni was a relentless fighter for the proposition that trans Americans are people who possess the same rights as every other American. She was never shy about calling out hypocrisy, whether by word, deed, or legislation.”

    Castro Community on Patrol Needs You – Oh, and There’s a Party!

    For 15 years, Castro Community on Patrol (CCOP) has been keeping our community safe at parades, protests, vigils, marches, parties, and more. So now they are celebrating—and recruiting!

    The holidays are a particularly busy time for CCOP, as many community organizations ask them to assist with events. As fun and rewarding as this time of year can be, they could really use some extra pairs of hands helping our fellow community organizations to succeed. As CCOP says, “Safety is a community effort.” Sign up through the CCOP website, complete online initial training in one three-hour session, and you can be out patrolling with them in a blaze orange vest the following week.

    Now, about that party … CCOP will be celebrating 15 years of improving Castro safety at The Academy (2166 Market Street) on Monday, December 13, from 7–9 pm. They will be honoring current and former volunteers, and also having conversations about the past, and making plans for the future. Please come, and bring friends! (And, by the way, congratulations to CCOP for being honored with the Community Service Award at the recent Harvey Milk Democratic Club Annual Gayla. Well done!)

    To attend CCOP’s 15th anniversary party:

    Santa Second Saturday!

    Those festive folks who brought you SOMA Second Saturdays! this summer are at it again, producing a multi-location holiday fair with a kinky twist. On the heels of a very successful debut summer season of SOMA Second Saturdays!, The LEATHER & LGBTQ Cultural District, Folsom Street, and SOMA West Community Benefit District have announced their first-ever Santa Second Saturday! This one-day holiday fair will feature the best of local leather and kink artists, craftspeople, and businesses to kick off the holiday season. The fair will take place at multiple locations throughout the LEATHER & LGBTQ Cultural District on Saturday, December 11, with a free hop-on, hop-off shuttle from Fogcutter Tours running continuously between the locations from noon until 6 pm.

    The LEATHER & LGBTQ Cultural District Manager, Cal Callahan, said that after such a well-attended summer season of SOMA Second Saturdays, the community was eager to try an indoor holiday event. “Santa Second Saturday! will provide a welcoming, festive space for the leather and kink communities, as well as providing artists and craftspeople a venue to sell their wares, and bringing revenue to local businesses that had been so severely impacted by the pandemic. And when you’ve finished your holiday shopping, stay to play in SOMA!”

    What – Another Jeopardy! Item?

    We recently reported that Bay Area filmmaker Peter Stein competed on Jeopardy! on October 28. Well, the Bay Area continues to be well-represented on Jeopardy!—this time by Oakland-based computer scientist and stand-up comedian Amy Schneider, an openly trans contestant who as of press time has been dominating the iconic game show, with eight wins and earning $295,200. For the Thanksgiving episode, she wore a Trans Pride flag pin. Schneider is now the first trans person to qualify for the show’s Tournament of Champions.

    While not the first openly trans contestant on Jeopardy!, Schneider’s participation in the show—and her success—has attracted media attention, including interviews in Newsweek and USA Today. Her first three winning games happened to air during Trans Awareness Week. On Twitter, Schneider remarked on the importance of representation: “FYI, I am not the first out trans person to appear on Jeopardy! (a few friends have asked). There have been a handful before, including one, Kate Freeman, who was the first out trans champion on 12/16/20. My thanks to all of them for blazing the trail!”

    May Schneider continue to blaze a trail for future contestants.

    16th Annual World Tree of Hope Lighting

    After another long year marked by the COVID pandemic, we can all use a dose of hope. For 16 years the Rainbow World Fund (RWF) has been providing just that, with the World Tree of Hope—a symbol of global unity created each year to promote peace, love, and humanitarianism. This year’s tree lighting ceremony will take place on December 6, from 6:30 to 8 pm, at Grace Cathedral. The event is free.

    Founded in 2000, RWF is the world’s first and only all-volunteer, LGBTQ-based humanitarian aid organization. RWF works to help people affected by natural disasters, hunger, poverty, disease, oppression, and war by raising awareness in, and funds from, the LGBTQ community to support relief efforts around the world. Their mission is to promote peace, unity, and hope by leading and participating in local and humanitarian relief efforts.

    The RWF Tree of Hope is the largest origami decorated holiday tree in the world. Traditionally 23 feet tall, this year’s tree, due to COVID-19 and subsequent time and social distancing restrictions, will be 15 feet tall, and decorated with over 10,000 origami cranes and stars, each hand folded and inscribed with wishes for the future of the world. The lighting ceremony on December 6 will feature musical entertainment, speakers, blessings from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and Landa Lakes, emcee Donna Sachet, and much more. The Tree of Hope will be displayed at Grace Cathedral through January 8.

    World AIDS Day Events Continue

    In addition to the World AIDS Day commemorations around San Francisco that took place on December 1, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation-Latinx Health Program, El Grupo, is hosting an event to celebrate the lives of Latinx and indigenous people who have died of HIV and AIDS. The event will be hosted at the AIDS Memorial Grove on December 3 from 12–3 pm and will include an art installation at the Latinx boulder, Aztec dancers, and mariachis. Tamales and atole will be served. For more information contact Rosa Mercado at 415-823-3499.

    Two moving displays of the AIDS Memorial Quilt will continue beyond World AIDS Day. Both St. John the Evangelist Episcopalian Church at 15th Street and Julian, and Grace Cathedral on California Street at Taylor have a number of Quilt panels on display indefinitely. Check with each location about visiting hours.

    That’s it for now. Enjoy this holiday season, and stay safe!

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

    Published on December 2, 2021