Facebook Row Stirs 45th SF Pride
LGBT Center rebrands “Pink Saturday”
The theme for the 45th anniversary of the San Francisco Pride Celebration and Parade, to be held over the weekend of June 27 and 28, 2015, is “Equality Without Exception.” But for some local members of the LGBT community, equality on the World Wide Web still remains an exception.
Controversy arose last month when SF Pride Board members voted 5-4 in favor of allowing Facebook to march in the Pride Parade amid protests by local drag queens and LGBT activists over its “authentic-name policy,” which has allowed Internet trolls to use the social media’s online reporting tools to target and ultimately delete accounts. About 60 people demonstrated outside the company’s Menlo Park headquarters on June 1 to challenge the policy, but a phone call from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to SF Pride Board President Gary Virginia swayed the nonprofit organization from dropping the high-profile donor. Virginia was unable to comment on the matter.
In spite of the corporate controversy, Pride SF remains the largest LGBT event in the nation. For the past four and a half decades, SF Pride has stood firmly to advance its mission to educate the world about LGBT issues, commemorate LGBT heritage and culture, and liberate LGBT people. With over 200 parade contingents, 300 exhibitors, and 23 community-run stages and venues, there will be plenty of fun for the expected 1.5 million participants.
“San Francisco Pride [is] a model for respecting the dignity of every human being,” said Jose Cital, SF Pride board member. “No one should feel left out, ignored or disrespected at any Pride event.”
Pride in San Francisco centers around a full weekend of parties, gatherings and parades. Several independent community events are not to be missed. Start things off with the Trans March at Dolores Park on Friday, June 26, at 3 p.m. Each year, thousands of people attend to support the trans community. This year’s theme is, “Power Through Visibility.” Wake up early on Saturday, June 27, and trek to Twin Peaks to help to set up the giant Pink Triangle, a symbol that reminds the LGBT community of the continuing struggle. Volunteers arrive at 7:30 a.m. to transform the side of the north hill facing the Castro district and downtown into a memorial by installing a giant pink triangle made up of pieces of pink canvas that can be seen from miles away. A commemoration ceremony will be held at 10:30 a.m.
Gary Virginia and Donna Sachet’s 17th Annual Pride Brunch, which honors the Grand Marshals of the parade, starts at 11 a.m. at Hotel Whitcomb, 1231 Market St., and benefits Positive Resource Center. The SF Pride celebration officially starts at noon on Pride Saturday, June 27, at the Civic Center. Don’t miss Go Bang! on the Main Stage Saturday afternoon.
“Pride is our most important, special time of the year,” DJ Sergio Fedasz of Go Bang! said. “Disco is Gay. Disco is San Francisco. It is the music of the community, of happy and sad times, connections, love, respect, community, and, yes, sex and sleaze and all that fun stuff.”
A trio of DJs will also be playing an extended set at SAFEhouse Arts Space, located at 1 Grove St, afterwards. The space will be hosting new theatrical works with a queer perspective all weekend long in what they’re calling Heart of Pride, which will include a Friday night showing of Evan Johnson’s play “Pansy” beginning at 8 p.m.
Saturday, June 27 also marks the annual San Francisco Dyke March, a gathering that brings LGBT women and allies together to celebrate unity and raise consciousness and visibility. The rally starts in Dolores Park at noon, and the march leaves at 3:30 p.m. and arrives in the Castro by 5 p.m. The march ends up at Pink Saturday which takes place every year on Castro Street the evening before the San Francisco Pride Parade.
After 20 years of hosting Pink Saturday, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence announced that they were unable to do so this year, so the SF LGBT Center stepped in to make sure that the block party would still happen. The name of the event has since been changed to “Pink Party.” Due to public safety concerns, the SF LGBT Center will be increasing security for this year’s event with help from the city, and it also expected to end earlier than in previous years, probably around 8 p.m. This allows more time to dance the night away at special after parties like the five-year anniversary of Reach at SF Oasis, at 298 11th St., or Cotton Pony’s Pride Opening Party at Neck of the Woods, at 406 Clement St.
The official Pride Parade kicks off at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 28, at Market and Beale streets and ends downtown at Market and 8th streets. San Francisco Dykes on Bikes are a main attraction of the parade. Also keep an eye out for District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener’s contingent marching down Market Street. The official SF Pride VIP party takes place inside the City Hall from 2-5 p.m. The whole SF Pride street party extravaganza ends at 6 p.m. For those who don’t want the epic weekend to end, head to Menage the “SF Pride After-Party” at Beatbox SF, at 314 11th St., or to Hard French at Mezzanine, at 444 Jessie St.
Whether you identify as gay, straight, genderqueer or anything in between, Pride in San Francisco offers something for everyone. Grab your rainbow flag and your best smile and get ready to have fun. And if you can’t make it, or simply don’t want to deal with the crowds, you can still watch the Parade on TV from the comfort of your own sofa.
Local Program Fosters Friendships Among Homeless
There was a palpable upbeat feeling in the enormous dining room with pale yellow walls and florescent lights, something unusual for a large gathering of homeless people.
The guests seemed to know each other and it looked like a reunion of friends. Although many had blank expressions, a few played games on their cell phones and one kept petting his dog trying to make it stop barking. One woman wore several layers of clothes even though the room was warm.
Food was served by people in purple aprons — a volunteer core of about 25 that included seventh graders, teachers, an attorney, a psychologist and several church parishioners — who also had a person shadowing them to learn how to manage the many tasks involved with serving. Soup was ladled into bowls and after that came a salad, Texas chili and homemade cornbread. They had a choice of four desserts. Many asked for second servings while making friendly small talk.
The scene was Wednesday night at the Most Holy Redeemer Church (MHR), where close to 100 homeless and less well-heeled people from the neighborhood dine each week as guests of for a free four-course family-style meal. The focus at the Wednesday Night Suppers (WNS) is on fellowship. The volunteers develop friendships with the guests and the homeless gain new friends on the street. This emphasis on developing personal ties is what sets this program apart from other programs that provide food to those in need, and as a result some guests have been coming to the WNS for many years.
“I know the homeless population seems to be increasing with many suffering from mental illness,” Said Michael Poma, project manager of the Most Holy Redeemer Church. “Attitudes to the homeless in the last decade vary from person to person. Some want to help, some want them to just go away and some really don’t care either way.”
Dinner is served at Ellard Hall, the enormous community room of this neighborhood Catholic parish. The guests sit at the same round table each week and the same volunteer will be at that table to serve. This promotes social interaction so they don’t feel so isolated.
All of the meals are prepared fresh and from scratch. A typical dinner could be vegetable soup, Caesar salad, spaghetti and meatballs and chocolate cake. That dinner is made with 60 pounds of ground beef, 20 pounds of spaghetti and one and a half cases of romaine lettuce. At the beginning of each meal, a short prayer is shared by Fr. Jack McClure, Fr. Matt Link or Fr. Kirk Ullery.
Nadia O’Donnell leads the kitchen by planning and preparing the meals with help from many volunteers. The first crew comes in at 12:45 p.m. to help set up the hall, prepare bag lunches and start the meal prep. Other volunteers start showing up between 4:30 and 5 p.m. to help with the actual serving of the meal and cleanup.
Food is purchased through the San Francisco Food Bank and the Restaurant Depot. Desserts are provided by Food Runners or made fresh that day. Many ask for second helpings and others wrap it up to go.
After dinner, the guests can choose from many donated toiletries. They have opportunities for new clothing, haircuts, a consultation with a medical provider, a podiatrist or other services. They even get a sandwich to take away at the end of the evening.
Over the years, other Wednesday activities have included screening of films, garden barbecues, baby showers, baptisms, funerals, flu shots and legal advice. There was even a show of their guests’ artwork.
This free dinner has about one volunteer for each two guests. There is no paid staff but a core group manages the program now led by Ron Pacheco, Kathleen Purcell and Michael Poma.
The program requires a lot of donated time from the managers. Funds do not come from the parish’s operating budget although a collection is taken up four times a year at all masses. They have been able to cover their costs by receiving generous donations from parishioners, neighbors, friends and a few organizations. They receive no city or federal funds.
“We rarely need to make a plea for volunteers,” said parishioner Curtis Murray. “We have parishioners to people who have heard about the program and are motivated to volunteer a few hours a week. Once volunteers see what we do, they’re hooked. It’s a friendly group.”
One of the most important parts of every job is talking with the guest and making them feel welcomed and worthwhile.
“People need to eat and they need companionship. They also want to feel they are accepted without judgment,” said Will Ives, a volunteer who had been coming for four and a half years.
The program started about 15 years ago. MHR had a tradition of hosting bread and soup gatherings once a week for parishioners during Lent, the season before Easter on the Christian calendar. One year, MHR parishioner Patrick Mulcahey, realizing how much was left to offer, stepped out in the neighborhood and brought a few folks in off the street to eat. The WNS slowly progressed from there. Mulcahey led the outreach at the beginning.
And the guests seem to appreciate it. One man with hair to his shoulders and many tattoos on his arms was heard saying, “I like being waited on.” Sitting next to him, a large woman wearing a pink baseball cap turned to her server and said, “Thanks! I like talking to you.”
WNS creates an environment where the guests are made to feel welcome. It’s not too noisy so they can hear each other talk and the large kitchen and dining room accommodate this group comfortably.
“Every city could do more. We could all pitch in to help,” Poma said, “It doesn’t take much to offer someone a jacket, a blanket, a hello or even, as I’ve done, give someone a Starbucks or Burger King gift card.”
To support the works of Most Holy Redeemer’s Wednesday Night Suppers, checks payable to “WNS” can be sent to 100 Diamond Street, San Francisco, CA 94114.
The article “New Castro AIDS Center Expected To Open in August” in the June edition of the Castro Courier was inaccurate. Because of delays with licensing requirements, it is likely the new AIDS Center will open at a later date still to be determined.
New Castro AIDS Center Expected To Open in August
AIDS is a subject that is close to home for San Francisco, especially in the Castro, and because of this, it comes as no surprise that the SF AIDS Foundation is creating a new home at 474 Castro St. in the coming months as an addition to their offices in the Mid-Market area.
The new location, which was started in 2013 and is expected to open in August, aims to contribute to the conversation in prevention, treatment, anti-stigmatization as well as providing general mental health and addiction counseling to Castro residents and visitors.
While the AIDS Foundation does operate elsewhere in the city, the addition of this new Castro location will include a focus on Wellness as opposed to simply treatment. This holistic approach is a new one to this three-decade problem that has faced the gay community as well as the community at large.
Research has shown that with proper attention to the cause, AIDS and HIV transmission could be reduced by 25 percent in the coming years and that removing AIDS and HIV transmission is now possible within our lifetime. This goal, a lofty but possible one, can only be accomplished with increasing visibility and awareness of HIV and AIDS issues, both to communities at risk as well as their allies.
Important positions that the new center will take on will be focused on community, understanding, destigmatizing and informing proper treatment and prevention.
The new center will offer free testing, part of the city’s goal to provide 100,000 HIV tests annually (up from a current 30,000), as well as counseling for substance abuse and continued treatment to the 50 percent of HIV-positive men who are over the age of 50.
The holistic approach taken by the new center will feature community meetings as well as public open spaces, including what promises to be a balcony overlooking Castro Street.
One of the most important fronts in the fight against AIDS is creating awareness and creating a conversation, which the center plans to foster. Discussions on the validity and effectiveness of Truvada, the USDA-approved drug used for HIV prevention will be highlighted.
Other programs that will find a home will be The DREAAM Project, focused on gay and bisexual African Americans between the ages of 18 and 30, The 50 Plus Network, focusing on the aging gay community, as well as groups and programs hosted by Positive Force, a safe space for HIV-positive men, and Bridge Men, a group of gay and bisexual men in their 30s and 40s who focus on positive contributions to the community.
A main goal is to decrease the ‘viral load’ in the Castro’s gay community, and both the new Castro center and the original SFAF location in Mid-Market will be dedicated to virus transmission prevention.
The SF AIDS Foundation hope the new space will open up new possibilities of programming and encourage participation by all members of the community.
New GLBT Historical Society Director, Deryl Carr
There have been some major developments over the past month or so at the GLBT Historical Society and GLBT History Museum, the latter of which is at 4127 18th Street in the Castro. Paul Boneberg who had been Executive Director for the past eight years has stepped down and Daryl Carr, a former board member, has stepped in as Acting Executive Director. An interview with Mr. Carr follows. The museum, which was opened in 2011 under Paul Boneberg’s direction, has just renewed it’s lease so it is insured of it’s important place in the Castro until at least 2020. All of this coincides with the GLBT Historical Society’s 30 year anniversary as it was founded in 1985. Artwork curated from this 30 year time period is now on exhibit in the museum’s Front Gallery.
Congratulations on your new position as Acting Executive Director at the GLBT History Museum and Historical Society. You’ve actually been with them for a while on the board, right?
Yes. I joined the board in fall of 2013.
How did you come to the new position; what made you decide to take it on? Obviously Paul Boneberg has been Executive Director for the past eight years and just last May decided to take his leave.
The reason I joined the board a year and a half ago is because I had been working for 15 years in cultural non-profits and I also had academic training. It’s [an] interesting meld between the Historical Society which is very much based in research in the archive, and on the other side, being in the non-profit and the museum world, I came with that background. I worked at San Francisco Ballet for nine years which was a really amazing experience to work for a really well run cultural non-profit. Then I worked at Contemporary Jewish Museum which was pretty new when I went to work there. The reason I liked that job is because it was a new institution; there was a lot of growing that the institution needed to do being so young. I was able to bring some executive level counsel to the organization as it was growing up; when you’re up to five years old you’re kind of like an infant growing to adolescence! That was a wonderful time to be there to see things solidify and to build a really strong foundation, to grow a staff, to build marketing and communications, which is what I did there.
About a year ago I felt like I had been at the museum for four years; I felt like I had accomplished what I wanted to do, and I started thinking about what I wanted to do next. At the time I didn’t want to work nine to five; I was trying to find contract work; I have a really strong marketing and writing background, so I’m really good at content, but also just being able to do some arts management consulting. When Paul decided that he was gonna step down after being here for eight years, obviously moving the organization through a big period of when we went from an archive to opening a museum in the Castro, and basically doing that at about the same budget; they had a small exhibition space in the archive and bigger office space. They actually split the space in half and they were able to take [the money from that] and open the museum in the Castro; they really were able to do it on a shoestring budget.
When Paul decided he was gonna do that I went to the board and said I would be willing to step in to do this for a certain amount of time and then we can assess where we are, building a strong foundation to attract another ED, really with the vision of getting us to the next stage. As a young organization on the museum side - the archive’s been around for 30 years, but relating to the museum world it’s really fairly new, just four years as well. In my mind and in mind of the board is how to take us from being a community based organization, which is a lot of volunteers helping, to becoming a national/international prestigious museum and archive that are permanently housed together. The long term vision is to be able to attract that kind of a person who can take us there.
What is happening at the museum currently in terms of exhibits?
We opened a new exhibition on May 15th that’s called “30 Years of Collecting Art That Tells Our Stories”. What’s unique is a lot of times we have documents on view but this is actually artwork. It was organized by Elisabeth Cornu who was a curator for the fine arts museums. She’s now retired; she’s been a long term board member, but she’s a force of nature. She organized this show looking through the archives of works of art created by LGBT artists between the mid-sixties to the mid-eighties. It really is just telling different stories of the LGBT life and also liberation movement from the counterculture to the development of a women’s community along Valencia Street to the leather scene in the seventies and eighties. There is a very provocative mural called the Bulldog Bath Mural that was actually in a bath house that was taken down [when] all of the bath houses were shut down, so that is a huge piece that’s hanging up. It’s unique because the Front Gallery is now hung with artwork; we’ve never had that before. The opening was great. That’s a small space but that night we had over 200 people. It was really nice because there were a lot of long time supporters but there were also a number of people who had never been to the museum before, even younger audiences.
As you’d mentioned the title of the exhibit is “30 Years of Collecting Art That Tells Our Stories,” and of course it runs parallel to your 30 year anniversary as a historical society.
Right. That’s one thing that we’re also talking about on the board. I don’t have anything to announce about that but we’ll definitely be doing some sort of bigger celebration towards the end of the year.
Do you have anything coming up for Pride season? Of course you’ll be getting a lot more visitors this month.
Luckily Wells Fargo is incredibly supportive of the museum and have given us some really generous sponsorship; we do have free admission on Pride Day and we also have enough sponsorship from them that it is allowing for free student admission during Frameline. A couple things that we’re doing around Pride - we’re working with Stu Maddox; he is a documentarian. He’s created a documentary called Reel in the Closet. It’s a documentary that’s premiering at Frameline and it’ll play both June 21st and 28th. We are a community sponsor. About three quarters of the film footage comes from the archives and it’s focussed on home movies of gay people from the 1930s onward.
Wow. That’s awesome.
It’s really awesome! I hadn’t met Stu; I just met him last week. I knew about his project; I made a bunch of different appointments and Stu was one of the people I met. I think that’s truly one of the most enjoyable things, meeting people who are working on projects. So we are sponsoring that and that is something we’re just very proud of.
You recently got some really good news which is that the museum is definitely going to be able to stay in it’s current location in the Castro; you’ve just renewed your lease until 2020.
That’s really great. Not only have we been able to renew our lease but beginning in November our rent will go down a couple thousand dollars a month. Thanks to Walgreen’s for making that happen. That building’s owned by Les Natali but he actually leases it to Walgreen’s and then we have a sublease through them. Between the archives and the museum the amount of money we spend in rent is really a big share of our annual budget, so to be able to have a little bit of breathing room, to come down a couple thousand dollars for the next five years is fantastic.
Lastly, Paul Boneberg has been with the museum and historical society through a really essential time. What would you like to say about Mr. Boneberg’s legacy, what he’s done for the museum and historical society?
I have a ton of respect for Paul because, like I said earlier, he was ED at an extremely pivotal time in the organization’s development, so opening the museum in addition to all the work that the archive does with a very small staff. Today we have more than 15,000 visitors a year. What’s so wonderful about that is that many times museums - their traffic is 60 percent local, 40 percent tourist, but I think just Paul having the vision and working with the board of directors to open the museum - it’s flipped. 60 percent of our visitors are tourist, 40 percent local. There really is a thirst when people come here to know what is unique about the LGBT experience in San Francisco. The museum definitely fills a place there, and we have a lot of work to do on the local side. Paul really was responsible for moving us into having both an archive and a museum. Personally, working with Paul, I just really have a lot of admiration for the sort of person he is and how much he loves the organization believes in it’s mission.
Ireland First To Vote for Gay Marriage
The significance of May 22nd’s Irish vote is that Ireland became the first country to legalize same-sex civil marriage by popular vote after 62 percent of voters favored changing the constitution to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. The precise words in the amended constitution are these: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”
From afar the church response was akin to being on the receiving end of a well-placed boxing move. If they didn’t know what hit them, according to a stateside pastor, they should have seen it coming. Although a Vatican official called the vote a “defeat for humanity,” it served more like a strong wake-up call calling attention to the “growing gap between Irish young people (and the culture of Ireland) and the church.”
The Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parollin, while acknowledging that “the church must take account of this reality,” affirmed that the church must strengthen its commitment to evangelization.
According to the Guardian’s Stephanie Kirchgasessner reporting from Rome, the vote was a “stark symbol of how wide the chasm has grown between young people in what has traditionally been a staunchly Catholic country and the church itself, which says that homosexual acts are a sin and vehemently opposes gay marriage.” Journalist Danny Hakim wrote, “In a little more than a generation, Ireland has both distanced itself from the church and sharpened its secular identity.”
In addition, little noticed here in the US has been the ongoing controversy of a French diplomat and practicing Catholic, one Laurent Stefanini, who is gay, and the Vatican’s refusal to accept him as France’s ambassador to the Holy See because of his sexual orientation.
With memories of the joyous crowds outside San Francisco City Hall the day that same sex marriage became legal, I grabbed my camera and went to Jane Warner Plaza. You could almost hear the proverbial pin drop. Where were the cheering crowds, decked in Irish green and rainbow gay? Where were the forest of video trucks with microphone wielding swords looking for street reaction?
Well, maybe one of our Irish pubs would have celebrating lads and lassies shouting into the wee hours. A check with an Irish bartender friend revealed only the usual trickle of straight tourists on a weekend night.
So what would they say at the Irish Cultural Center out there in the Sunset? I spoke with John Tucker, who’s been on the board of the Center for five years. He said he was “very excited and happy” by the Irish vote, especially since Ireland had now earned the distinction of being the first nation to pass same-sex marriage by popular vote.
But on the subject of celebrating, he admitted that though nearly all his friends were Irish, it was “a very private thing.” They celebrate with their families, he said. So maybe all those Irish kids I grew up with on the East Coast were really Italians or Argentines, banging their pots at midnight and celebrating for all the world to hear?
Douglas Dalby in the New York Times had a different explanation. The “relative civility of the discourse,” he wrote, “is a measure of the waning power of the church” with its empty pews, as well as a shift in attitudes where religious teachings and conservative values are giving way to laws that support individual privacy and other rights.
More reassurance came from Judith Kell, the president of the board of the Center. Her message to each of the board members was an affirming and heart warming sentiment that she was ecstatic and happy with the results of the vote. As board members of the Irish Cultural Center, she and Tucker are focused on a new generation of Irish youth and encourage them to work with the Irish consulate here in San Francisco.
•••••••• ALSO IN THIS ISSUE ••••••••
City Attorney Sues Castro Landlord
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed suit on Thursday, June 4 against Castro area landlord Anne Kihagi, who owns more than 50 rent-controlled residential units in the city. The lawsuit claims that in defiance of numerous state and local laws protecting tenants and capping rents, Kihagi and her legal team have “waged a war of harassment, intimidation, and retaliation using unlawful, unfair and fraudulent practices designed to force them out to make room for new tenants who pay market rent.” Kihagi was the focus of an investigation in May’s edition of the Castro Courier.
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© Castro Courier 2014
GLBT Historical Society Finds New LeaderNew GLBT Historical Society Director, Deryl Carr
© Castro Courier 2014