Thousands gather together dressed in their very best—or in very little at all—for the Folsom Street Fair on September 25. The annual BDSM and leather subculture event brought crowds of revelers outdoors on Folsom Street between 8th and 13th streets. Started in 1984, Folsom remains the world’s largest leather parade. More Folsom photos
Scott Wiener's Plans for Senate Seat
To become the successor to California State Senator Mark Leno, current District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener will face off against District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim on November 8th. Wiener said he would follow in the footsteps of Leno as a lone LGBT voice in Sacramento advocating for the Bay Area.
Housing. For years housing creation in San Francisco and elsewhere has failed to keep pace with population growth and has been subject to unnecessary restrictions. As a result, Wiener maintains, rents and home prices have risen to astronomical levels while fueling displacement and evictions. What’s needed, he says, is to reform our approach to housing creation and housing affordability, including focusing on local and regional solutions to address the housing shortage and escalating housing costs.
In sum, Wiener’s housing priorities are to encourage smart approaches to expand our housing supply in a smart, sustainable and transit-oriented way, build more affordable housing more quickly, and ensure housing stability for existing residents. Specific strategies he has proposed include development of thousands of new housing units, allowing new in-law units, increasing housing density along transit corridors, creating more housing for students, and allowing micro-units. As for short-term rentals, Wiener does not support turning housing units into hotels or evicting tenants to create hotels and says he supports “good regulation and enforcement.”
As a daily Muni rider for 20 years, Wiener is a leading advocate for improved public transportation. He expects to fight for better investment in transit systems and to lobby state and federal sources for more resources. This would include local and regional initiatives to expand transit capacity, extend Caltrain, build a second transbay tube, and make High Speed Rail a reality. At the same time he has worked closely with Muni to modernize and replace their aging fleet and with BART on their replacement and expansion program, essential to reducing over-crowding.
His list of responsible positions on Bay Area regional transportation authorities is significant and long, as is his extensive record of working with transportation leaders to improve regional connectivity. Wiener believes that being a “transit-first” city doesn’t mean torturing people out of their cars, but rather giving them so many choices about how to get around.
Environment. Wiener’s interest in environmental sustainability, especially during the current drought, has resulted in legislation on water recycling and the need to modernize our water system to meet the needs of a structural water shortage.
In addition, Wiener’s conclusion that San Francisco has one of the smallest tree canopies of any major city and has long followed a policy of dumping tree maintenance responsibility on home owners and has led him to support a measure to require that the city take back responsibility for its trees. He pledges to fight in the senate to protect forests and oppose clear-cutting.
Health and Family. Wiener has introduced legislation to provide the most expansive paid parental leave in the nation as well as oppose the health impacts of smoking, type two diabetes, obesity and other impacts related to sugar consumption, co-authoring a soda tax in 2014 and related measures. He was opposed strongly by the soda industry but will work with the State Senate to reduce soda and sugary drink consumption. His current opponent is siding with the industry.
As a gay man, Wiener led the successful effort to backfill tens of millions in federal HIV budget cuts, cuts that would have destroyed San Francisco’s Getting to Zero strategy, a plan directed at HIV infections and deaths. He also obtained more than $1 million in resources to fund the newly opened Castro health center for LGBT men called Strut. And in 2014, he announced that he uses PrEP, a once-daily pill that reduces the risk of HIV infection by 100 percent.
Public Education. In addition to championing more funding for public schools and the STEM curriculum, Wiener supports both bilingual programs and programs taught in a native language, with the goal of getting children up to speed in English as quickly as possible. He also supports high quality after-school programs and neighborhood schools as “the backbone of our neighborhoods.”
Some Creative Approaches
Acknowledging that the Bay Area is an active location 24 hours a day, Wiener observed that it was “remarkably hard” to get around late night and early morning. Consequently, he brought together a group of experts to plan improved late night transportation, thus far resulting in better overnight bus service and eventual 24-hour BART service in San Francisco and regionally.
In another example, Wiener believes the area has had too many fires, especially in the Mission District, and authored the “Good Samaritan Ordinance,” allowing landlords to enter into a temporary leases with a fire-victim tenant at no more than 10 percent higher than the tenant’s existing rent, while the tenant’s unit is being repaired.
What if your car is stolen? Wiener says you are a victim and you should not have to be victimized again by having to pay exorbitant towing and storage fees. Wiener worked to change the towing contract to waive fees and provide a significant storage fee grace period for owners of towed stolen vehicles.
Final Notes. Wiener believes we need strong gun control to reduce the number of guns in California and says that he will support smart and effective gun control efforts in the State Senate. He also strongly supports access to medical cannabis as part of good healthcare. In addition, he supports legalization of the adult use of cannabis for people 21 and older.
Dufty, Petrelis Run for BART Seat
Ex-supervisor, local blogger battle for board
On November 8th, residents of the Castro will cast their votes for the District 9 BART Board Director.
The contest pits two gay men with strong ties to the Castro against each other: former District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty and Michael Petrelis, local AIDS activist, LGBTQ rights activist and blogger.
Dufty and Petrelis both have unique experiences in the area that have motivated them to run for BART Board as well as different approaches to their campaigns. Dufty has a website while Petrelis announced he was running via his blog.
Dufty, 61, started his political career on Capitol Hill and has 14 years of transit experience under his belt. He helped craft the legislation that created the Los Angeles Metro rail system while aiding a congressman and later handled the federal affairs for the Los Angeles County Transportation system. As District 8 Supervisor, Dufty secured $4.4 million in funds for transportation improvements and pushed for an audit of the J-Church line, which led to Muni’s Transit Effectiveness Project, a project that evaluated and overhauled Muni service for the first time in a generation.
“I believe in building from smaller problems to bigger solutions,” Dufty said. “When I was supervisor, I had my cell phone number on my business cards. I urged people to call me when they experienced delays on the J-Church.”
Dufty said he wants to imagine what it’s going to be like to ride BART in 40 years. BART currently has 440,000 riders and that number is expected to grow to 600,000 by 2040.
“As of now, BART is mainly funded by passengers paying to ride BART,” Dufty said. “I can be effective by going to Washington to talk to the federal government to secure funding.”
Petrelis, 57, has spent the majority of his life advocating for social justice and public health. He was diagnosed with AIDS in New York City in 1985, and was a founding member of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) in New York and in Oregon. In 1990, he organized a national boycott of Phillip Morris products, including Marlboro cigarettes and Miller beer, due company support of an LGBT-unfriendly senator.
Petrelis moved to San Francisco in 1995, where he successfully lobbied the city’s Department of Public Health to make the female condom available to gay men.
Petrelis has a reputation for shaking things up. He ran a 2014 campaign for district supervisor and a 2015 write-in campaign for mayor. He refers to his political style as “DIY Democracy” and calls himself a “proud muckraker.” Petrelis doesn’t drive; he rides his bike and uses public transportation.
Pigeon poop was the catalyst for Petrelis’ BART campaign. In 2012, he got the health department to clean up Harvey Milk Plaza. Then in 2014, after sliding his hand in pigeon poop covering the handrail at the 16th Street BART station, Petrelis vowed to run for BART Board. Due to his numerous complaints about the plaza, the bird droppings have been cleaned up and new pigeon spikes have been installed.
“The problem with the current system is that it is a complaint driven maintenance plan. That needs to change,” Petrelis said.
If elected, Petrelis proposes to reopen the public toilets at 16th Street and hire the homeless to staff them. He also wants to activate the plazas with pop-up bike repair, small vendor shops and meet-and-greet sessions with the District 9 director in attendance. He said he would push for more transparency of BART management and their salaries and suggested that BART board meetings be rescheduled for evenings.
Despite their differences, all three candidates running for District 9 BART Board agree on supporting measure RR, which will give BART the authority to issue up to $3.5 billion of general obligation bonds. BART will raise the money to pay back the bonds through property taxes. Measure RR requires two-thirds approval.
The BART Board is comprised of nine elected officials. Members serve a four-year term and meet bi-monthly to discussv current issues. The meetings are open to the public and are held in the BART Board Room located in Oakland. The BART Stations that make up District 9 include 16th Street Mission, 24th Street Mission, Glen Park, Civic Center, Powell Street, part of Balboa Park.
New Facilities and New Opportunities at Openhouse
Openhouse is a San Francisco nonprofit organization established in 1998 to create and sustain a senior residential community for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) seniors. By intention, Openhouse works to reduce isolation and empower LGBT seniors to improve their health, well-being and economic security. Over the past decade the organization has provided comprehensive social services, referrals for LGBT aging-support services, and opportunities for social engagement for those LGBT seniors who wish to remain in their homes for as long as they’re able.
Several years ago the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the Mayor’s Office of Housing approved construction of a new facility located at 55 Laguna St. as the organization’s first housing facility. Now nearing the end of construction, the new facility in Richardson Hall is the first nonprofit LGBT-welcoming senior housing facility in Northern California and an important addition to the stock of affordable senior housing in San Francisco.
To apply to be considered for a unit at 55 Laguna St., a lottery was held this past June, in which 1,806 individuals—more than 50 percent of whom self-identified as LGBT—applied for 31 units. Move-ins are anticipated in November.
55 Laguna St. has partnered with Mercy Housing to create a new community and a new on-site service center where residents’ LGBT identities are affirmed and celebrated. Several kinds of service are available to residents: a Resident Services Navigator, who attends to the needs of residents on-site and makes sure residents do not remain isolated; and efforts to bring in LGBTs from across the city to participate in programs on-site.
In tandem with the residences at 55 Laguna St., Openhouse staff members are excited by another construction project that has been 10 years in coming, the Bob Ross LGBT Senior Center at 65 Laguna St. Bob Ross was a pioneer in the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the co-founder and publisher of the Bay Area Reporter as well as a founding member of several gay organizations. In 1996 he established a foundation to benefit various nonprofit agencies. After his passing in 2013, an area of focus for the foundation included the unmet needs of services for LGBT seniors.
The foundation’s $1 million gift benefits Openhouse, especially the 2,700 square feet of new facilities—the new Bob Ross Center. The second building to be constructed next door will include over 7,300 square feet for a multi-purpose senior center. In the overall site configuration the two new buildings will function as a campus and a hub for services.
Key to the construction of the Senior Center is the donation of the $1 million gift from the foundation. The gift was reportedly inspired by Ross’ legacy of connecting people, building awareness and strengthening organizations to address urgent community needs, a community-based model similar to that of Openhouse.
Finally, the new opportunity mentioned in our title refers to the search for a new Executive
Supervisors To Decide on LGBT Cultural Heritage District
Supervisor Scott Wiener has called for the Board of Supervisors to vote on a long-stalled LGBT Cultural Heritage District.
There will be a Land Use Committee hearing on October 3 to establish a group of community leaders to protect and preserve LGBT nightlife spaces, primariy in the Castro on the 18th Street corridor.
“Our LGBT nightlife venues are at the heart of the LGBT community, and we must proactively support and protect these sacred spaces,” Wiener said.
LGBT nightlife venues aren’t simply places to go out and have fun, although they are certainly that. They’re also safe spaces and places where we go to build community. Generations of people have found their community at LGBT bars and nightclubs, Supervisor Weiner said.
The designation of the Cultural Heritage District will take time. Local historic districts are identified by surveying historic resources and delineating appropriate boundaries. Depending on local ordinance or State law, property owners’ permission may be required.
Local historic districts can burden property owners by requiring them to comply with local historic district ordinances.
However, historic districts are known to raise property values. A 2011 Connecticut-based study by the National Trust for Historic Preservation showed property values rise in every local historic district from 4 percent to more than 19 percent per year.
Sit-Down with Litquake Co-founder
San Francisco boasts the highest per capita book consumption within the nation, so it’s only fitting that the annual celebration of all things literary, Litquake, happens here. Litquake will be presenting readings at the Jane Warner Plaza in the Castro on Sunday, October 9th, along with citywide events from Thursday, October 6th through Saturday, October 15th. On that last day, just a few blocks away in the Mission, the popular Lit Crawl gets going and it truly must be experienced. Litquake, initially called Litstock, was co-founded by Jack Boulware in 1999. The festival offers pretty much everything from book readings and signings to a book tour by bike, to the aforementioned Lit Crawl. Jack chatted with the Castro Courier about Litquake’s events in the neighborhood.
Wendy: What will be happening at Jane Warner Plaza this year? Is this your first year hosting an event there?
Jack: No, we’ve done it several years. Each year we invite authors from the LGBT community to do this outdoor reading. It’s amazing. You see the MUNI train going by, often there’s the naked guys hanging out. It’s usually a nice day because it’s October, so it’s always sunny and warm. It’s just a unique event to see people reading from their work right in the midst of this beautiful neighborhood. They do have to pause while the trains go by, but that’s to be expected. Since it is outdoors anything can happen, and has in the past. This year we’re adding a new thing; we’re actually bringing everyone back to Dog Eared Books, the new bookstore that just opened, for a little post reading reception with wine and book sales. We’re really happy that Dog Eared came into the neighborhood because there wasn’t a bookstore there. Different Light closed and Books Inc. closed, so it’s a beautiful thing for Alvin Orloff and the crew at Dog Eared to seize the moment and take that space. It’s also a cool thing to do after the reading; there’s someplace to gather and talk to the authors.
Wendy: Different Light and Books Inc. were gathering places in the neighborhood, so it’s great that a bookstore is coming in, especially Dog Eared Books, who have been such a long standing presence in the Mission.
Jack: Absolutely. It’s great; it’s actually in the same location as A Different Light [was]. Rabih Alameddine is our headliner this year. I love Rabih. He’s done our festival since the earliest years and he has a new novel [The Angel of HIstory: A Novel] this year that’s getting great reviews. He has the best author bookflap photo I’ve seen in a long time. It’s like he’s a 1940s movie star, and he has this look on his face, and it’s choice. It’s just choice. I put it on our Litquake Twitter feed and it’s the most popular tweet we’ve ever put out there. He just has a really fine outlook on life and he’s a great writer, and he has lots of fans.
Wendy: There are so many events close to the Castro, especially in the Mission. Aside from Lit Crawl, you’ve got a lot of Mission bookstore events; you’ve got one called United We Stand, assumably a commentary on the tech situation that’s happening in the Mission. There are such great bookstores there, like Alley Cat Books who host such great events with projects like At The Inkwell.
Jack: Yeah, [and] Modern Times. That’s a really sweet little corridor. They’ve actually got their own literary festival called Flor y Canto, which is all Spanish language. We always help promote it because they don’t have a lot of money, but they do a two or three day festival in that neighborhood and all those different venues. This year I asked them to submit some ideas to the Lit Crawl, so the last three events in our Lit Crawl are Flor y Canto events.
Wendy: You have so many different types of venues for Litquake. Bookshops, coffee shops and galleries are to be expected, but you use some unique indoor venues, and even outdoor venues. You have Bikes to Books which ends at City Lights Bookstore, which is of course such an iconic bookshop in this city.
Jack: We did that bike tour for the first time last year and it was great. A lot of people here don’t know literary history; they’re young [or] they just moved here, and it’s a fun way to explore the city and learn, just get a reminder that this always has been a very, very literary city.
Wendy: Bikes are just as big of a part of this city’s culture as books! It’s a good combination.
Jack: Right. Just don’t read while you ride!
Wendy: You have an event on Mount Tam too, Poetry in Parks. It’s great that you’re bringing this outdoors too.
Jack: October’s a nice time to do it. [When] the festival started we did an outdoor event in Golden Gate Park in July of 1999, and it was like 150 knot winds. The next year we moved it to Yerba Buena Gardens as a one day outdoor showcase and that year it was 95 degrees. We thought, “That’s it. We’re gonna move indoors.” We moved the dates of the festival too, to the fall. It’s really crowded; there’s a lot of other stuff going on because that is the hot time of year. There’s the Salesforce conference; there’s Hardly Strictly [Bluegrass]; there’s Fleet Week; there’s a lot of stuff going on within the span of three weeks in the city. It’s a great time for Lit Crawl because it’s nice outside and people can walk around the Mission.
Wendy: That’s such a huge event, and again, with such a wide variety of venues, including The Women’s Building.
Jack: Each year we do events at [Valencia and 17th Streets]; it’s a hot corner, ‘cause we do events at the Good Vibrations sex toy shop and also right across the street at the police station simultaneously. We try to cover all the bases.
Wendy: You do cover all the bases, in terms of not just venues, but you also have a spectrum of events, from readings to publishing workshops to a focus on various groups, like the LGBTQ community, to kids programs, so it's a vast audience that you gear Litquake to.
Jack: There are a lot of people who only go to certain events at Litquake, and they have a great time. It's a very diverse area here. This is a city where, if you can afford to live here, it really supports people who want to do their own thing. There is a really interesting propensity for people to come here by themselves, create work outside of any sort of industry structure, and find their voice. We're not a huge publishing hub, we're not a big entertainment hub. But there is something to the creativity here that I love. I think it's the fog. It's not sunny enough to goof off and play all day. You stay inside, you read, you write, you have permission to dream a little bit.
Wendy: Fog is a dreamy thing. If you've ever walked through the park with the street lamps lit in the fog, it's very romantic.
Jack: It's very evocative. It really is.
Wendy: One of the events you have every year are the Barbary Coast Awards. But it's different this year, as you'll be giving multiple awards as opposed to just the one that you used to give in previous years.
Jack: Right. We also wanted to take advantage of the Herbst Theatre again. It had been closed for some years, for renovation and retrofitting. We had some of our early Barbary Coast Awards there. We did a great one with Armistead Maupin many years ago. We did an event with Amy Tan there as well, a single award. There are so many groups and institutions in the Bay Area that would never get a Barbary Coast Award because they're not a single person contributing to the literary community, but they contribute in other ways, so we expanded the scope of it. The Bancroft Library is receiving our first Literary Institution Award. We wanted to honor Paul Yamazaki at City Lights; he's been the book buyer there for 40 years. When you walk into City Lights, all the stuff you see on the shelves. That's Paul, and he's a really great guy.
Wendy: This year you're also honoring Justin Chin, who was of course, a big part of the Castro community.
Jack: Justin had always done Litquake, even Litstock. He was there at the beginning. Nobody really did what he did. He was the nicest sweetest guy, and man, when he would read his stuff, [they were] just these crazy, explicit, filthy, funny things. He read them once at Litquake at Yerba Buena, and his language just bouncing off the walls at The Metreon. It made me very happy.
Wendy: Following the ever popular, and deservedly so, Lit Crawl, you've got the Litquake after party, at The Chapel on Valencia Street.
Jack: We kept outgrowing other venues, and they were really nice. They made concessions for us. It's a big Saturday night nightclub in the middle of the Mission. They could easily bring in a music act and make more money, but I think they like the spirit of the Lit Crawl and of Litquake, and they like the fact that there are book nerds waiting in line down the block to get in their building. That really surprised them the first year. They were so nice. We actually are using their space another day, besides the after party. I think it's Sunday, October 9th, we have an all day mini festival within Litquake that we call Eat, Drink, and Be Literary. It's this all day extravaganza of panels with award winning chefs and culinary journalists, and there are books for sale. The first year we did it, last year, it was so popular. We didn't have the right venue so I moved it to The Chapel.
Wendy: It's a great club and it really lends itself to this sort of thing, with all the dark wood and cozy spots within the place. You could hide away with a book so easily there.
Wendy: What inspired you to create Litquake? You were, as you still are, a working author and journalist at the time.
Jack: This was 1999. At the time I was a staff writer for the SF Weekly, back when they had money and 100 pages. The Co-founder, Jane Goodall, was a staff writer at the Examiner back then. We knew a bunch of writers in the city but there weren't very many. It was a crazy start-up culture here. To us, there really wasn't any attention [paid] to reading books, and that's what we all did. We decided to do something about it, and we could maybe get The Examiner to sponsor, since Jane worked at The Examiner. We got a permit [for] the Golden Gate Park Bandshell; we brought in a live jazz group that were friends of ours, and we had 22 or 25 authors. The Examiner helped promote it and 400 people showed up. There was definitely an audience who wanted to see something like this. We had no idea what we were doing but we managed to make it work. Ishmael Reed closed the show and it was freezing in the wind, so that's how it all started. I had published a book in '97 and I published another book in 2000. I was working on books throughout this; at the same time I was a journalist in the city. It really made sense to me. What are you going to do when you have a book party? You go to a bookstore or you go to a bar; that's kind of about it. Is anybody going to know about it? It just kept growing and growing.