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    In the News: 10.05.2017

    Compiled by Dennis McMillan

    Las Vegas Shootings Provide Painful Reminder of Last Year’s Pulse Massacre

    While watching the details emerge concerning the mass shooting in Las Vegas this week, Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer commented that the October 1 event—which resulted in at least 60 fatalities and some 527 injured victims—was “starkly similar” to the Pulse nightclub massacre last year, during which 49 individuals lost their lives. Florida State Senator Linda Stewart renewed efforts to ban the sale of assault weapons in Florida. In fact, her bill SB196 was filed on Sunday morning, just hours before the mass shooting occurred on the Las Vegas Strip. Here in the Bay Area, politicians also called for renewed discussions over the sale of guns in the U.S. For example, Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), said, “Our prayers are with the Las Vegas victims and their loved ones. This act of extreme violence is yet another tragic example of why this country needs to pull its head out of the sand regarding gun policy.” Additionally, he said that “now is absolutely the time to talk about guns and the real damage these killing machines are doing to our society. Our country is awash in guns, and every time we put off dealing with it, more people die.”

    Gays Against Guns Responds to Las Vegas Shooting

    The inclusive direct-action group of LGBTQ people and their allies, Gays Against Guns, held a march and rally for the Las Vegas massacre on October 2 in New York City. Streamed live via social media, the event received tremendous support from members of our community here in the Bay Area and across the nation. Gays Against Guns also issued statements that read, in part, “Gun violence is killing us. Gun violence is an epidemic. Gun violence is a public health crisis. Gun violence is curable.” Gays Against Guns claims to be “the only gun violence organization to have gone to (gun shows) to speak with people who are strong supporters of the Second Amendment. We’re not confrontational, but we engage with people and ask them to consider the facts. It can be uncomfortable at times, but this is what must happen if we want to change minds and save lives.”

    ‘Harvey’s Halo’ Light Installation to Mark 40th Anniversary of Milk’s Historic Election

    On November 8, to commemorate Harvey Milk’s historic election as California’s first openly gay elected official, the nonprofit Illuminate will unveil “Harvey’s Halo,” described by the organization as “a colorful beacon of equality into the sky above Harvey Milk Plaza.” The rainbow light display, which will shoot colorful hues directly up into the sky above the busy plaza, will last for seven nights over two weekends. A neon sign reading, “Hope Will Never Be Silent,” will also be placed in the plaza, serving, according to Illuminate, “as a permanent greeting to all those who call Castro home, be they San Francisco residents or not.” For more information, including visuals showing what the sign and display will look like, go to:

    California Department of Education Approves LGBTQ Inclusion in K–8 Textbooks

    The California Department of Education’s Instructional Quality Commission voted on September 29 to approve only the K–8 textbooks that included sufficient LGBT content—as mandated by the History-Social Science Framework that Our Family Coalition worked to put in place last year. Ten textbooks were approved on the condition that they include edits provided by the FAIR Education Act Implementation Coalition, a group of eight LGBT and educational organizations convened and led by OFC, and including Equality California, GSA Network, The Committee on LGBT History, Los Angeles LGBT Center, ACLU, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Transgender Law Center, and the Safe Schools Project of Santa Cruz County.

    CDC Officially Admits People Who Are Positive but Undetectable Cannot Transmit HIV

    The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has officially stated that those living with HIV who are undetectable cannot transmit the virus to others. September 27 was National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, and in a memo that day for the first time ever, the CDC said what organizations and experts in the field have been saying for years. “When antiretroviral treatment results in viral suppression, defined as less than 200 copies/ml or undetectable levels, it prevents sexual HIV transmission,” the memo stated. That is the scientific way of saying that an HIV positive person who seeks treatment, and eventually controls the virus to the point of not being detectable in tests, cannot pass on the virus, even if no protection is used.

    City Grant Helps Fund Pink Triangle Park’s $250,000 Renovation Plan

    Dedicated in 2001, Pink Triangle Park is a memorial in the Castro to the estimated 15,000 LGBTQ persons who were killed during the Holocaust. During that era, Nazis made gay men wear pink triangles stitched onto their garments as a way to identify them. Even though it was the first such memorial in the United States, the park has since fallen into disrepair. Andrea Aiello, the executive director of the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District noted this, but was powerless in that the park falls outside the CBD boundaries. But the Castro/Upper Market CBD acted as the fiscal sponsor for the Pink Triangle Park’s bid to get grant money, and neighborhood groups like the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the Castro Merchants, the Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association, the GLBT Historical Society and others lent their support. The project has been granted $91,400, which will help with the entire renovation, which is expected to cost roughly $250,000. Everyone is hoping to break ground on the memorial in January of 2018, and if all goes to plan, a refurbished Pink Triangle Park Memorial will be open to the public in March.

    Nearly a Quarter of Americans Think Homosexuality Should Still Be Illegal

    A recent Gallup poll found that nearly a quarter of Americans still think gay sex should be illegal, two years after the legalization of same-sex marriage. The poll shows 23 percent of respondents believe “gay or lesbian relations between consenting adults” should not be legal. Gallup began asking the question back in 1978, when 43 percent of people said gay sex should be illegal, with the same number saying it should be legal. At least the majority of people now believe gay sex should be legal. Also, 64 percent say same-sex marriages “should be recognized under the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages.” That is up from just 27 percent back in 1997.

    STDs in U.S. Surge to Record High; Gonorrhea and Syphilis See Steep Increases Among Gay Men

    Sexually transmitted diseases surged to a record high in the United States last year, with more than two million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis nationwide, according to the annual “Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report” released on September 26 by the CDC. The report said this was “the highest number ever.” Gonorrhea increased among men and women last year, but the steepest rise was among men (22 percent), said the report. Nationwide, gonorrhea cases reached 470,000, with a large share of new gonorrhea cases among men who have sex with men. These trends are “particularly alarming” because of the growing threat of gonorrhea becoming resistant to the last recommended treatment, according to the CDC report. Syphilis cases numbered 28,000, a rate that increased nearly 18 percent from 2015 to 2016. Most cases of syphilis occur among men—mainly gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.

    LGBTQ Community Responds to Puerto Rico, Mexico and U.S. Natural Disasters

    The recent wave of hurricanes and earthquakes that have hit the Caribbean, Mexico, and the United States has left a trail of destruction taking hundreds of lives and leaving millions homeless and destitute. In Oaxaca, Mexico, Rainbow World Fund—a queer humanitarian organization based in San Francisco—is working directly with local aid workers to distribute emergency relief supplies such as tarps, food, soaps and items to care for the basic necessities. RWF is also funding a traveling medical van with a doctor in the San Mateo del Sur area. RWF volunteers live in Oaxaca and will be assessing needs and administering the funds. In Texas, RWF is raising funds to provide food assistance through a network of local food banks. In Puerto Rico, where communication links remain down, RWF is reaching out to the LGBTQ communities in Mayaguez and Rio Piedras to assess their needs. Caring people can donate online at and specify “Disaster Aid.”

    Disarm Hate Act Passed and Awaits Governor’s Signature

    AB 785, The Disarm Hate Act introduced by Assemblyman Jones-Sawyer, was passed unanimously on September 11 on a bipartisan basis by the California Legislature. The bill is now on the Governor’s desk to be signed or vetoed. This bill is designed to keep guns out of the hands of convicted criminals motivated by hate. Studies show these individuals are at greater risk for escalating violence and need to be disarmed. “We know hate and guns are a deadly combination that is increasingly putting individuals, their communities, and the public at risk. Under existing California law, those convicted of violent misdemeanors are prohibited from possessing or acquiring firearms for ten years,” said Peggy McCrum, President, California Chapters of Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “Unbelievably, those convicted of a hate crime misdemeanor still get to keep their guns. Indeed, some plead guilty to a hate crime in exchange for other charges being dropped just to avoid the prohibition. AB 785 will close this gap.”

    LGBTQ People and Friends Encouraged to Go Purple on Spirit Day

    Spirit Day 2017 is on October 19, and GLAAD has put together a handy guide to take a stand against anti-LGBTQ bullying. Spirit Day is an opportunity for people all over the world to speak out against anti-LGBTQ bullying and show their support for LGBTQ youth, who face disproportionate bullying and violence simply because of who they are. One way to show support is to take the Spirit Day Pledge online at Also, on October 19, people can wear purple and talk to friends and neighbors—both in person and on social media—about why it matters to support LGBTQ youth. GLAAD organizers say, “With all the anti-LGBTQ bullying happening in our schools, our statehouses, and even our White House, all of us at GLAAD are committed to making sure all LGBTQ kids know that their community and allies are fighting for them.”