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    The Rotary Club of SF Honors Public Safety Heroes and Welcomes LGBTQ Community Members

    By Daniel Joraanstad–

    (Editor’s Note: On February 27, the Rotary Club of San Francisco held its annual Emergency Services Day to honor outstanding representatives of the departments that we depend on for public safety: the Fire Department, the Department of Emergency Management, the Police Department, the Sheriff’s Office, the Coast Guard, and the Recreation and Park Rangers. Each honoree was celebrated for acts of heroism and outstanding service in handling an urgent call to duty in the past year. The heroes of Emergency Services Day are selected by the leadership of their department.

    This is a large public forum where department leaders thank and congratulate the award winners, cheered on by an appreciative audience that includes Rotarians, families of these guardians of our city, department leadership, and many political notables. The event has grown to be one of the most popular luncheons of the Rotary year. 

    Daniel “Dan” Joraanstad helps to make this important annual event possible, as does Rotary Club President Christopher Wiseman. Wiseman told the San Francisco Bay Times: “Emergency Services Day, with Co-Chairs Bob Hermann and Matt Madsen, was a great success. The event was at capacity with 150 attendees. Since 1987, this has been a signature event for our club and is important to our entire membership. The event means a lot to the emergency workers and their families. At the luncheon, we share their stories, publicly recognize them, and celebrate their importance to the city of San Francisco. When I hear their stories, it reminds me how hard they work every day on behalf of San Francisco and those like me who call it home.”)

    Isn’t coming out a constant process? I make a few speeches each year, as I did on February 27 for Emergency Services Day. This is a wonderful tradition since 1987 for the Rotary Club of San Francisco to honor our Emergency Service Workers—Police and Fire Departments, Sheriff’s Office, Coast Guard. This year the Park Rangers joined us as did 911/DEM.  I was the Master of Ceremonies. In my usual biography, which is read to introduce me, I conclude by saying, “My husband Bob Hermann and I have spent 35 years together, most of them in San Francisco.”   

    At this event, as Master of Ceremonies I provided a short story about each of our heroes to the audience after a flashy video introduction and taped interview. For example, I detailed a story of a heartbroken mother coming back to look for her drug addicted son repeatedly in the Tenderloin. The police officer she bumped into, Raylene Larot, took it as a mission to reunite the two … and I noticed in her biography that she and her wife were expecting their first child. What an uplifting end for the sad story! And another way to say, “Hey, world, LGBTQ people are everywhere.” It feels good, it feels safe, here in gay central to express myself, but it works in the rest of my experiences, too.

    As a financial advisor, I frequently went to conventions with my coworkers and their spouses from around the country. This time it was not just once or twice a month to come out, but many times a day as Bob and I met our colleagues. The funniest coming out story was with a rather deaf older man from Ohio who was there with his son. At the round dinner table, he cupped his mouth to whisper loudly into his son’s ear, after I struggled to make it clear that Bob and I were more than business partners (before I could say husband), “Son, I think they’re GAY!”   

    For more information about the Rotary Club of San Francisco:

    Daniel Joraanstad is the Membership Chair for the Rotary Club of San Francisco. He previously served as the managing editor of science, engineering, and computer science works at publisher Benjamin Cummings and was a managing director at Wells Fargo Advisors.

    Published on March 9, 2023