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    LGBTQ Activists to Reunite for San Francisco Bay Times 40th Anniversary Panel

    1970s San Francisco LGBTQ activism will be brought back to vivid life on September 28 during the first ever reunion of founding members of the San Francisco Bay Times, which was the first newspaper for the LGBTQ community to be jointly and equally produced by women and men.

    The event, a living history panel moderated by Dr. Bill Lipsky of the Rainbow Honor Walk, will bring together San Francisco Bay Times founding contributor Cleve Jones, founding news editor Randy Alfred, founding production manager Susan Calico, founding arts and entertainment editor M.J. Lallo, columnist and Commissioner Andrea Shorter, San Francisco Supervisor and former columnist Rafael Mandelman and others. Historic images from legendary photographer Rink will be shown during a reception preceding the panel at The GLBT History Museum.

    The discussion and images will center around 1978, the year that the San Francisco Bay Times was founded by the late Roland Schembari and Bill Hartman, as well as their dedicated team. It is hard now to fathom the emotional highs and lows of that year. Consider that Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in the history of California, took office on January 8 as a San Francisco supervisor. Just 11 months later, on November 27, he and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated.

    In addition to the founding of the San Francisco Bay Times, 1978 marked the birth of the following:

    • LGBTQ Rainbow Flag;
    • San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus;
    • Women’s Building in San Francisco;
    • LGBTQ Studies (Department) at City College;
    • San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band and numerous other LGBT-related non-profits, businesses and more.

    Helping to fuel LGBT activism then was the Briggs Initiative, officially California Proposition 6, which attempted to ban gay men, lesbians and potentially their allies from working in the state’s public schools. The initiative was part of a larger anti-LGBT movement that started with a successful campaign headed by singer Anita Bryant and her “Save Our Children” organization. Milk, lesbian activist Sally Miller Gearhart and other community leaders were instrumental in fighting the statewide ballot measure, which was defeated by voters on 

    November 7, 1978.

    The politics of 1978 were an inflection point, bringing together LGBT men and women for shared goals. This included the founding of the San Francisco Bay Times.

    “It began with the simplest of ideas: a newspaper ‘by lesbians and gay men’ and for lesbians and gay men, as the masthead of the first issue of the San Francisco Bay Times proclaimed,” Dr. Lipsky says. “The goal of founders Roland Schembari and Bill Hartman was not only to bring the community’s diverse people together, but also to ‘forge links between our movements and those of racial minorities, feminists, rank-and-file labor, environmentalists, the disabled, the old, the young and the poor.'”

    A “Prospectus” for the paper dated Spring 1978 included the following: “Gay men and lesbians, though similarly affected by prejudice and discrimination, have little understanding of each other’s lives and feelings. Lesbian professional associations may be unknown to their sisters’ militant political groups. Well-to-do gay men may have no understanding of the daily frustrations of their low-income counterparts. San Franciscans are often unaware of what goes on across the Bay.”

    It went on to declare: “The Bay Times will provide reliable, authoritative news, covering the less-than obvious stories affecting lesbians and gay men. We will publish every two weeks. Our crisply written basic news will be supplemented with lively features, reviews, photos and graphics.”

    And so it has done these four decades since. The Bay Times continues to grow and evolve while honoring its history and ability to build and strengthen unity in the LGBTQ community. This could not have been possible without the hard work of the past and present Bay Times team members, including those who will be on the upcoming panel. Their achievements could fill many volumes. Here is just a brief summary:

    Cleve Jones

    Founding San Francisco Bay Times contributor Cleve Jones is an LGBTQ and labor activist who authored the book When We Rise: My Life in the Movement (Hachette Books, 2016) that was made into an ABC miniseries in 2017. He conceived the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, which is the world’s largest piece of community folk art. He also co-founded the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

    Randy Alfred

    Founding San Francisco Bay Times news editor Randy Alfred conducted a detailed 1980 probe of the biased portrayal of San Francisco’s gay community in CBS Reports’ “Gay Power, Gay Politics.” His investigation led to CBS issuing a rare public apology for its failed coverage. He went on to produce The Gay Life on KSAN-FM, the first regularly scheduled LGBT-themed program on commercial radio in the U.S. He is also a founding board member of NLGJA, The Association of LGBTQ Journalists.

    Dr. Bill Lipsky

    San Francisco Bay Times columnist Dr. Bill Lipsky is a member of the Rainbow Honor Walk board of directors. He created Snapshot: LGBT History of San Francisco for the Human Rights Campaign and GLBT San Francisco: Castro for the GLBT Historical Society. He is the author of Gay and Lesbian San Francisco (Arcadia Publishing, 2006).

    Andrea Shorter

    A commissioner and the former president of the historic San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women, San Francisco Bay Times columnist Andrea Shorter is a co-founder of the Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition. A senior consultant for the City and County of San Francisco, she develops non-profit, public and private sector collaborative strategies to intensify outreach and service delivery to San Francisco’s homeless LGBTQ youth and young adult populations.

    Rafael Mandelman

    Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, a longtime former San Francisco Bay Times columnist, is the former president of the City College Board of Trustees. He has also served as president of the Noe Valley Democratic Club, commissioner on the San Francisco Board of Appeals, chair of the San Francisco LGBT Center and president of the District 8 Democratic Club.

    Susan Calico

    Founding San Francisco Bay Times production manager Susan Calico served as an editor for The Daily Californian and a writer for KPFA. She has fought for social justice for decades.



    M.J. Lallo

    Founding San Francisco Bay Times arts and entertainment editor M.J. Lallo had already served as a writer and editor of numerous newspapers in Colorado, and had two published collections of her poetry, before her work in the Bay Area. She is now an award-winning voice artist, director and composer.

    They and other community leaders will be at “San Francisco Bay Times: Four Decades of an LGBT Free Press,” September 28, 6 pm to 9 pm, at The GLBT History Museum, 4127 18th Street, San Francisco. The reception will take place from 6–7 pm, followed by the discussion. Admission is $5 and free for GLBT History Museum members.