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    In the News: 9.21.2017

    Compiled by Dennis McMillan

    City Seeks Answers After Murder of Popular LGBTQ DJ Anthony ‘Bubbles’ Torres

    “The San Francisco Police Department is working vigorously to solve the homicide case of Anthony

    ‘Bubbles’ Torres,” Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement following the September 9 early morning killing of the beloved LGBTQ DJ and nightlife personality, who was fatally shot in the Tenderloin. Mayor Lee continued, “While initial reports do not indicate that the killing was motivated by hate, we are nonetheless shocked and saddened that one of San Francisco’s most colorful activists has been lost to violence.” He added that they are asking the community to cooperate with the police so they can bring Bubbles’ killer to justice. “In the wake of Bubbles’ death, we want to express our support for members of the LGBT community affected by this terrible news,” Lee continued. “San Francisco is a place of love, peace and compassion, and we want every person who lives in this City to feel secure and protected. We ask any residents who are feeling unsafe to contact the SF LGBT Center at 415-865-5555 for information on support resources and grief counseling.” Supervisor Jane Kim informed the San Francisco Examiner that a mural may be created in honor of Torres, should a site for it be secured and if enough funds for the artwork are raised. and

    San Franciscans Flock to Care2 Petition to Rename SF Street After ‘Bubbles’

    A Care2 petition is asking San Francisco to rename Myrtle Street in the Tenderloin after the aforementioned Bubbles. The petition ( as of this writing has nearly 12,000 supporters. After Anthony Torres was killed at the corner of Larkin and Myrtle streets, many San Franciscans took to social media to mourn, filling Bubbles’ Facebook page with videos and photos of moments they had shared with him. “I have talked to San Franciscans who say Bubbles was a welcoming, loving, and beautiful person. They say he embodied San Francisco’s ethos: be whoever you want to be,” writes Care2 petition author and San Francisco resident Julie Mastrine. “Many have said they would love to see Bubbles memorialized by the City in some way: perhaps by renaming Myrtle Street in the Tenderloin to Bubbles Street.”

    Harvey Milk Plaza Re-Design Competition Narrowed to Three Choices

    By the end of this month, we should know which Bay Area design team will be chosen to re-design Harvey Milk Plaza in the Castro. As of this writing, there are three finalists: Groundworks Office, Kuth|Ranieri Architects, and Perkins Eastman. “We are excited to share these three finalists who represent very distinct design approaches that re-envision this important public space,” said Andrea Aiello, who is President of the Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza and Executive Director of Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District. “Recognizing the important role of the community, two community meetings were held back in January to kick-off this redesign effort. We then took that input and folded it into the design brief and now we are asking the public, especially the Castro and the LGBT community, to respond to the shortlisted designs.” Public comment ends today, September 21. (If you read this article by the end of today, the survey is at Images showing the various design options are at:

    Hundreds Gather at National AIDS Memorial to Dedicate Newly-Built Hemophilia Memorial

    The tragedy of HIV/AIDS in the hemophilia community can never be forgotten, said National AIDS Memorial sponsors. The Hemophilia Memorial, located within the Moonwalk Crescent in the San Francisco park, will be a place where people can grieve, remember, and look to the future with hope. In the early days of the AIDS epidemic, over 50% of U.S. hemophiliacs died from the disease as a result of our nation’s contaminated blood supply. The memorial serves as an important reminder of all of those lives, and pays tribute to the courage and activism of this community, which worked tirelessly to ensure America’s blood supply is safe and that this tragedy will never happen again.

    Construction to Begin on Jane Warner Plaza Art Installation

    Work is scheduled to start on the newest addition to Jane Warner Plaza in the Castro. Entitled “The Seed,” this will be an art installation of six 13-foot-tall abstract dandelion LED light features. The first step will be to empty the plaza’s planters and to pour cement for the installation’s foundation. The area around the planters will be taped off to pedestrians. As a result, the regular “Live! in the Castro” events will have to be rescheduled. This construction will not affect the streetcars running while cement dries. It will take 25 days for the cement to harden, before the installation can proceed. The tentative grand unveiling will be Friday, October 27.

    California Assembly Approves SB 54 Sanctuary Bill

    The state Assembly has approved a “sanctuary state” measure that would put new restrictions on interactions between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities. The Assembly’s 49–25 vote officially sets up a vote in the Senate. The Senate approved a tougher version of the measure before it was watered down in the Assembly in response to concerns from law enforcement and California Governor Jerry Brown. Democrats say the bill, SB 54, will help ensure that immigrants feel safe reporting crimes to law enforcement. But Republicans argue the bill would only provide comfort to people who commit crimes and would force immigration agents to conduct neighborhood raids if their actions are restricted in jails.

    Discriminatory Ban Already Harming Transgender Troops and the U.S. Military

    Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN have asked a federal court to immediately halt all steps taken to implement the Trump Administration’s discriminatory plan to ban transgender individuals from serving openly in the U.S. Armed Services. These organizations believe that the ban has already caused harm to transgenders in the military, not to mention the transgender community as a whole, and have filed a motion for preliminary injunction in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The motion asks the court to preliminarily enjoin the government from taking actions inconsistent with the military policy that existed prior to July 26, 2017, under which transgender service members were allowed to serve openly, and transgender Americans seeking to join the military had a path forward for doing so. In the lawsuit, Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN are now representing nine individual plaintiffs, all of whom are transgender, and three organizational plaintiffs—the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Seattle-based Gender Justice League, and the American Military Partners Association (AMPA).

    San Francisco on the Road to Becoming First City to Have Zero New HIV Infections

    According to the “HIV Epidemiology Annual Report,” San Francisco is on the road to becoming the first city to achieve the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) goals of zero new HIV infections, zero HIV-associated deaths, and zero stigma and discrimination. The findings in the report include that new HIV diagnoses in San Francisco declined to a record low in 2016, and among men, the annual rate of new HIV diagnoses for all racial and ethnic groups continued a 10-year decline. “Never have there been more people living with HIV in San Francisco, yet we continue to see sharp drops in new transmissions,” said Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who is HIV positive and is a co-founder of San Francisco’s Getting to Zero Consortium. “San Francisco’s Getting to Zero model is being replicated around the world, however, with 13% of all newly diagnosed persons homeless—a proportion that is increasing over time—and only 31% of homeless persons living with HIV virally suppressed, we are clearly failing to address health and housing disparities,” he added. “San Francisco can be the first city to get to zero, but only if we continue to deploy the necessary resources for core services and new initiatives for those most in need.”

    Statements from Judith Kasen-Windsor and Robbie Kaplan on Passing of LGBT Advocate Edie Windsor

     Judith Kasen-Windsor, widow of renowned LGBT activist Edie Windsor (1929–2017), and Roberta “Robbie” Kaplan, Edie Windsor’s attorney, have issued the following statements on Windsor’s passing in New York on September 12 at the age of 88. “I lost my beloved spouse Edie, and the world lost a tiny, but tough-as-nails, fighter for freedom, justice and equality,” said Judith Kasen-Windsor. “Edie was the light of my life. She will always be the light for the LGBTQ community, which she loved so much and which loved her right back.” Kaplan, in part, wrote: “Representing Edie Windsor was and will always be the greatest honor of my life.” She said Windsor will go down in the history books as a true American hero. Kaplan concluded, “I also know that her memory will be a blessing, not only to every LGBT person on this planet, but to all who believe in the concept of b’tzelem elohim, or equal dignity for all.” A public memorial was held Friday, September 15, at Riverside Memorial Chapel. Hillary Clinton eloquently paid tribute to Windsor at the funeral on that same day, held at New York City’s Temple Emanu-El. In lieu of flowers, Edie Windsor requested that any donations in her memory be made to the following organizations: The LGBT Center, Callen-Lorde, Hetrick-Martin Institute, and SAGE. (For more about Windsor, see page 6 of this issue.)