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    In the News 3.21.2019

    Mayor Breed Appoints San Francisco’s First LGBTQ Fire Chief: Jeanine Nicholson

    Mayor Breed on March 13 announced her appointment of Deputy Chief Jeanine Nicholson as the city’s fire chief. A lesbian, Nicholson is the first openly gay fire chief in the city’s history. She is also a breast cancer and burn survivor. “This woman is tough,” Mayor Breed said. “This woman is resilient. This woman is a leader and I am confident she will lead the department on day one.” That will occur in May, when the current fire chief Joanne Hayes White retires.

    SF Street May Soon Be Named in Honor of Jeff Adachi

    Supervisor Matt Haney introduced a resolution this week calling for a street South of Market near the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office to be named after Jeff Adachi, who served as Public Defender from 2002 until his death on February 22. Gilbert Street would be renamed Jeff Adachi Way. “Jeff would use Gilbert Street not just as his daily thoroughfare, but also as a place to connect with, mentor, and support fellow attorneys on their way to and from the court,” Haney said in a statement. “It is a fitting tribute to Jeff’s legacy as a champion of justice and fairness to rename Gilbert Street in his honor. In the future, countless attorneys will walk down Jeff Adachi Way and be reminded of his unrelenting commitment to justice, as they step into the Hall of Justice to further his legacy themselves.”

    Cleve Jones to Receive Humanitarian Award in Cuba

    Cleve Jones, the founder of The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, co-founder of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and a founding contributor to the San Francisco Bay Times, will travel to Cuba in May to participate in the 12th Cuban Journey Against Homophobia and Transphobia (the Jornada). Jones will be going with a delegation from Rainbow World Fund (RWF), an international aid and relief organization based in San Francisco. He will receive the Cuban National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) Prize in recognition of his contributions to the advancement of the LGBTQ movement. If you would like to join Jones and the rest of the delegation, visit RWF online ( ) for more information.

    PRC to Open Expanded Service Center on April 1

    PRC, which elevates the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS, substance use or mental health issues, will open a new 25,000-square-foot service center on April 1 in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood. The organization has launched a “Chair the Love” fundraising campaign to fill the renovated Art Deco building with the furniture it needs to support its 5,000 clients annually. On May 16, PRC will host a special VIP reception for those donating $1,000 or more in anticipation of the opening. Chair the Love:

    ‘Cook Shoppe’ Restaurant to Open at Former Chow Site on Church Street

    The popular restaurant Chow closed earlier this month, but a new restaurant called Cook Shoppe will soon take its place, according to a Hoodline report. The new restaurant is being developed by Mark White, who is also opening two other restaurants across the street from the 215 Church Street space at 212 and 216 Church (Gramercy Park and its sister restaurant Gramercy Park To-Go). He has promised to hire back members of the former Chow staff and “to help preserve as much of what everyone truly loved” about Chow. Gramercy Park is “tentatively” scheduled to open on June 1. In other Castro retail/service comings and goings: Barry’s Bootcamp opened on March 16; Castro’s 7-Eleven is now listed for sale, with the former franchisee citing concerns over theft and safety; and the Castro-Mission Health Center (3850 17th Street at Pond) is relocating to the first floor of Zuckerberg SF General Hospital’s Building 80 while the 17th Street building is being renovated and seismically upgraded. For more information about Gramercy Park:

    ‘Open to All’ Campaign Launches

    Mayor Breed, Supervisor Rafael Mandelman and Treasurer José Cisneros on March 12 launched the Open to All campaign in San Francisco. The campaign, already in other cities nationwide, encourages businesses and residents to oppose discrimination and declare that they are Open to All regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, religion or disability. “San Francisco has a long history of standing united to advance the national dialogue around acceptance, civil rights and human rights,” said Mayor Breed. “The Open to All campaign is about reinforcing our values and stating that no matter who you are, where you have come from, or who you love, you are welcome here in San Francisco.”

    Henry Sias Could Become First Trans Male Judge in the U.S.

    Henry Sias, who has clerked for justices in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, could become the nation’s first transgender male judge if he wins the Philadelphia Primary Election on May 21 for one of 6 justice positions on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Sias came out as transgender when he was 35 years old. In an ad, Sias says, “Men like me, transgender men, are not supposed to be visible. We have never won an election for state or federal office, let alone judge.” The first transgender woman to serve openly as judge was Houston’s Phyllis Frye. She was appointed 9 years ago. Victoria Kolakowski of Oakland is the first openly transgender individual to serve as a trial court judge of a general jurisdiction in the U.S.

    New Episodes of ‘Tales of the City’ to Run on Netflix This Summer

    Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City—which began as a popular serialized column in the San Francisco Chronicle and inspired a nine-book series, a 1993 television series and a musical (2011)—is being revived for a new series on Netflix. Laura Linney, Paul Gross and Olympia Dukakis are reprising their roles, but there will be several new characters as well. Linney is also serving as Executive Producer, along with Maupin and others.


    In Memoriam

    Ernie Asten


    Ernie Asten, the fourth-generation patriarch of the Cliff’s Variety legacy, passed away early in the morning of March 15 after a 14-year battle with Parkinson’s and MSA. He grew up in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood and, within the store itself. His grandfather was a creative thinker in his own right and he instilled in Ernie the concept that knowledge is power and with that power you can do anything. Ernie was a maker before the term existed. He was proficient in many mediums and several homes in the neighborhood have been touched by his knowledge, his skills or by the products sold at his family’s remarkable Castro Street store.

    He was also a proficient jazz pianist and in the late 1960s and early 1970s he even had a recording studio in his garage on Hartford Street. The Hartford Studio recorded names such as Carlos Santana, Terry Dolan of Terry and the Pirates, Jimmy Moscoso and Ronnie Montrose. In the 1980s, Ernie returned to college to study calculus and physics just for the fun of it.

    He is survived by Martha, his wife of fifty years; his daughters Terry and Marian; his four grandchildren Ceci, Camille, Balin and Cooper; and his great grandson Aiden.

    Barbara Hammer


    A pioneer of queer cinema, Barbara Hammer died after a long battle with ovarian cancer. Her film career, which spanned over 40 years, addressed women’s topics, in particular, such as gender roles, lesbian relationships and coping with aging and family. Her life was adventurous and brave. After coming out as a lesbian and leaving her husband, she “took off on a motorcycle with a Super-8 camera” in 1974, she shared in an interview. That year she created Dyketactics, one of the world’s first lesbian films. Her first feature film, the experimental documentary Nitrate Kisses (1992), won numerous awards.

    She studied filmmaking at San Francisco State University and later taught at several prestigious schools, such as the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. In 2010, Barbara published her autobiography HAMMER! Making Movies Out of Sex and Life, which addressed her personal history and her philosophies on art.

    Her legacy includes the Barbara Hammer Lesbian Experimental Filmmaking Grant, which was first awarded in 2017.

     Angus Whyte


    Following a brief illness, Angus Whyte passed away peacefully in the loving arms of his husband Thomas Grexa Phillips on March 6 in Palm Springs, where they had moved to last year. Angus offered many contributions of administrative and financial acumen in his service to several communities, most recently for the last 25 years in the Bay Area. From his administrative stewardship of the fledgling San Francisco LGBT Community Center, to his reviving and operating Art for Healing, a charity designed to accept original works of art by donation and place them in hospitals and healing centers, Angus’ ethics, devotion and commitment never wavered.

    Angus published a series of memoirs and short stories entitled After-Dinner Tales in 2013. He was commissioned to write a biography of a company celebrating its centennial in San Diego in 1994. He was completing a second volume of tales entitled The Lavender Blade when he fell ill.

    Angus is survived by his spouse, his sister Bonnie Whyte of Washington, and numerous cousins. Contributions may be made in his memory to the Huntington Disease Society of America, the Arthritis Foundation and the Point Foundation.