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    Revisiting the Winter of Love

    By Joanie Juster–

    I try not to regret missed opportunities, but I will forever regret not going to City Hall 20 years ago when word got out that same-sex marriages were being celebrated. Twenty years ago, I hesitated: surely, this extraordinary freedom would only last a few hours before they shut it down … then maybe a few days. By the time I got up the nerve to take time off from work, the magical period now known as the Winter of Love had come to a close.

    A couple of years later, I was walking down Steuart Street on a drizzly afternoon when I encountered two charming young men huddled under an overhang with a clipboard, politely asking me if I would care to sign a petition advocating for marriage equality. I listened to them, was hooked, and became part of the movement. And after years of rallies, marches, petitions, court cases, and a sea change in public opinion, on June 26, 2015, I was able to celebrate outside City Hall with those same two men—John Lewis and Stuart Gaffney—when the U.S. Supreme Court declared marriage equality the law of the land.

    The screening of Pursuit of Equality at the Castro Theatre on February 6 was a family reunion: the audience was filled with couples who had been married at City Hall during the Winter of Love—and married again and again, as those first marriages were nullified, then validated; it was a dizzying revolving door for a few years. Most same-sex couples I know celebrate multiple anniversaries, as they said their vows anew every time it briefly became legal again, just in case.

    The thing is, despite the monumental victory of Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, there are still powerful forces seeking to strip same-sex couples of the right to marry. Anyone who doubts this danger wasn’t paying attention in June 2022 when the current Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade after 50 years of being enshrined in law. They can take away rights, and they will, given the opportunity. Our work is not done, and I’ll say it again for the umpteenth time: elections matter!

    Pursuit of Equality deserves to be seen, and needs to be seen by a new generation. The filmmakers are seeking both funding, and venues to show the film. To support the distribution of this film, sponsor, or support a screening:

    ‘Take Action’ Event on February 24

    When the latest HIV Epidemiology Annual Report was released in December 2023 by the San Francisco Department of Public Health, it contained some shocking news: while numbers within the city were generally trending in a hopeful direction, from 2021 to 2022 there had been a dramatic increase of over 60% in new HIV infections in the Latinx community—an increase not reflected in other racial or ethnic groups. Seeing this, local HIV activists banded together to do something about it.

    On February 24, they are holding a free event at the Mission Cultural Center for the Latino Arts. “Call to Action!/Tomar Accion!” is hosted by a coalition of Marty’s Place Affordable Housing Corporation, SF Latinx Democratic Club, SF AIDS Foundation, and the HIV Caucus of the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club, thanks to a ShineOn Action Award from the SF Parks Alliance.

    The event will include a resource fair where people can learn how to access services or volunteer for community organizations including Instituto de Familia de la Raza, Marty’s Place, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, STRUT, Shanti, the Mission Neighborhood Health Center, AGUILAS, the HIV Advocacy Network, and more. Local advocates and activists will host discussions about barriers to prevention and treatment that still exist, and how to work together to dismantle those barriers.

    The health and resource fair will be followed by a screening of Moe, a film directed by José Luis Valenzuela, from the SF Latinx Film Festival.

    For info, & tickets to this free event:

    Applications Due March 8 for Equality California Leadership Academy

    Voting for candidates who reflect your values and will support the LGBTQ+ community is a responsibility we all share. But opportunities also exist to take devotion to public service to a higher level. We must also train and prepare people to enter public service either by running for office, or by seeking appointments to municipal, state, and private sector boards and commissions.

    Equality California’s LGBTQ+ Leadership Academy is currently seeking applicants for their next session. The Leadership Academy prepares participants for public service by connecting them with current elected and appointed public officials. EQCA has already trained over 200 leaders from around California.

    The deadline to apply for the Leadership Academy is March 8:

    Memory Keepers #2: Centering Black Trans Joy

    I absolutely love the idea of the Memory Keepers Initiative created in January by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. Their efforts to document and share the stories from within our communities is an important step in engaging people in preserving our history, and building vibrant connections. The power of sharing these stories in person as living history was evident by the large crowd that turned out to hear them at the first event in the series, moderated by Donna Sachet, on January 11. The next event, “Centering Black Trans Joy,” will take place February 29 at 7 pm. Hosted by the Transgender District’s Breonna McCree and Carlo Gomez Arteaga, the event will include stories from community leaders including Shayron Grayson, Andrea Horne, and Fresh Lev White.

    Other upcoming Memory Keepers events are scheduled for April 18, and May 16 at The Chan National Queer Arts Center at 170 Valencia Street. For info and tickets:

    U.S. Trans Survey Preliminary Results Are In

    We live in an era where data is essential. While we have quite understandably become cautious about how our personal data is used to target us for marketing and other purposes, data is also used to help shape legislation and public policy that can affect us all.

    Until now, the only real data source available on the transgender community was the groundbreaking 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, which included responses from 27,715 people. So, the release of the 2022 survey, which included 92,329 responses, is a major step toward understanding the lives and needs of the transgender population of the United States. The information gathered will provide valuable insights for researchers, academics, and policymakers. The information contained in the survey is particularly vital at a time when the far right is doing everything it can to threaten, demonize, and virtually erase transgender people from our country.

    We’ll all be hearing more about the U.S. Transgender Survey in the months to come, as researchers take deeper dives into the data. In the meantime, here’s the link. Take a look; it’s fascinating and enlightening:

    Follow the Money

    Speaking of elections: With the March 5 primary right around the corner, our mailboxes, email inboxes, and social media are overflowing with political flyers and ads. There is an avalanche of money pouring into our city elections from certain wealthy individuals and groups in an attempt to alter the very nature of our city and our politics. When you see these ads and when you read your voter guides, first ask yourself: who is paying for this advertisement? Who is funding this campaign? And do their values really align with yours? Of course, everyone wants our city to be safer, cleaner, and more functional. Slogans are meaningless. But the question is always: how do they want to achieve those goals?

    When in doubt, follow the money.

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

    In Case You Missed It
    Published on February 22, 2024