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    Play Ball!

    By Joanie Juster–

    Spring is here, baseball is back, and the air is rich with the new possibilities that spring promises. Get outside if you can—to catch a ballgame, or just to drink in the beauty of this spring season. Doomscrolling can wait; the wildflowers cannot.

    Congratulations to Castro Community on Patrol

    If you have every attended a public gathering in the Castro—a rally, march, protest, vigil, or celebration—you have undoubtedly seen members of Castro Community on Patrol (CCOP), watching over the crowd to ensure everyone’s safety. From Heklina’s public memorial to the annual Christmas tree lighting, from the Orlando Pulse vigils to the massive celebrations following the Supreme Court rulings for same-sex marriage, CCOP is always there.

    What many people do not realize is that CCOP is an entirely volunteer-run organization. Founded in 2006 in response to a series of violent attacks on gay men in the Castro, and building upon the groundbreaking work of previous safety groups in the neighborhood, CCOP has spent the past 18 years not only providing a watchful peacekeeping presence at public events, but also proactively educating and training the community to defend itself in case of personal or group attacks. By providing self-defense classes for individuals, and active-shooter trainings to local bars and businesses, CCOP has worked tirelessly to bridge the gap between community groups and law enforcement professionals to enhance the safety of the community.

    On March 18, a special ceremony was held in Mayor Breed’s office, as CCOP was awarded the FBI Community Leadership Award. CCOP’s leadership team, Greg Carey and Ken Craig, received a certificate from Robert Tripp, special agent in charge at the FBI’s San Francisco office. They will be flying to Washington, D.C., soon to receive the award directly from FBI Director Christopher Wray.

    District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman quipped that “San Francisco’s public service glitterati” were all on hand to honor CCOP’s long history of prioritizing public safety for the community. Sheriff Paul Miyamoto paid tribute to CCOP’s dedication to public service, saying, “I’m elected to serve the community. You elect to serve the community.” Police Chief William Scott added, “They add value for the safety in our community.” Mayor London Breed presented Carey and Craig with her own certificate, and thanked them for all their group does, while acknowledging that their work is not done.

    While acknowledging the awards and the thanks they received from the city’s leaders, CCOP’s Greg Carey reiterated the ever-growing need for the community to learn to protect itself. He cited the fact that of 510 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in state legislatures over the past year, 75% were signed into law. He emphasized that while, nationwide, anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes were up 162%, in states where hateful legislation had been introduced, hate crimes were up 352%. CCOP’s Ken Craig, who designs their safety training programs, stressed the need for partnerships and collaboration between members of the community and public safety officials, adding that their group helps bridge the gap to help people trust local law enforcement, and to learn how to protect themselves in case of attack.

    In a prior issue I wrote about the fact that CCOP recently lost their long-time fiscal sponsor when SF-SAFE suddenly ceased operations. This left the group with a pile of unpaid bills for such operating expenses as safety equipment and printed safety information for the public. A GoFundMe has been started to help them raise funds for their annual operating budget. We have all benefited from the work of these dedicated community volunteers, so please join me in pitching in to help them:

    Bayard Rustin: Gay & Quaker

    For far too many people, the recent Oscar-nominated film Rustin was their first introduction to Bayard Rustin, the queer Black man whose groundbreaking work helped shape the Black civil rights movement in the mid-twentieth century. Fortunately, the film has awakened renewed interest in his life and work.

    On Thursday, April 4, at 5 pm, the LGBTQ Religious Archives Network will be hosting a webinar, “Gay & Quaker: The Shaping of Activist Bayard Rustin.” The webinar will explore the roots of his philosophy and his activism, especially as a man who was both queer, and rooted in his Quaker faith.

    The webinar will be moderated by religious historian and Rustin scholar Quincy Rinehart, and will feature Black lesbian activist Mandy Carter, and Rustin’s long-time partner Walter Naegel. Naegel is also co-author of Troublemaker for Justice – The Story of Bayard Rustin, The Man Behind the March on Washington, a young person’s biography published by City Lights. Register for the webinar here:

    Spring Cleaning: Check your Voter Registration Now

    We may be just barely into spring, but November elections are coming up sooner than you think, and while we are all already being deluged with texts and emails begging us to support candidates, don’t forget that there is something you can do right now to ensure that your voice will be heard in this crucial election: making sure your voter registration is in good order.

    This can be an issue for anyone who has moved since they last voted, and particularly for anyone who has changed their name, because many states require that the name on their ID match the name on their voter registration. This can have an outsized impact on women, because 70% of women change their name when they get married. It is also, of course, a challenge for trans people, who often face daunting barriers to getting identification documents to reflect their name and gender identity. Making sure that your driver’s license, Social Security card, insurance cards, passport, and voter registration cards not only match, but also reflect your current legal name and gender identity can be time-consuming and challenging.

    Fortunately, there are resources available to help. The League of Women Voters is partnering with organizations like VoteRiders to ensure that everyone has the proper identification needed to vote, wherever they live. Take the time now, months before the election, to make sure your voice can be heard at election time. For more info:

    Farewell to AsiaSF? Not Quite Yet

    Good news! If you hadn’t quite booked your visit to AsiaSF, you still have time. It was announced on March 22 that the closing of AsiaSF would be pushed back one month, to April 28. “Our reservation phones and emails have been exploding,” said founder and CEO Larry Hashbarger. In order to give more people an opportunity to experience AsiaSF’s world-famous transgender performers, the decision was made to stick around one more month. But don’t wait—book your reservations now:

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

    In Case You Missed It
    Published on April 4, 2024