Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 2 / 11 January 2018
 

Cher to headline Sydney Mardi Gras celebration

by Heather Cassell

Gay icon Cher is set to headline the 40th Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras party March 3.

U.S. fans can try and get tickets as an additional number go on sale Tuesday, January 16.

Late last month, the pop superstar caused a stir among gay fans with a tweet featuring rainbow, sparkling hearts, stars, bees, and kiss emoji topped off with the hashtag #putsomeshrimponthebarbie, “Ok … you boys know where I’ll be in March.”

(Cher will headline the 40th Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Photo: Machado Cicala Morassut)

(Cher will headline the 40th Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Photo: Machado Cicala Morassut)

Organizers, however, didn’t confirm the 71-year old Grammy award-winning singer’s tweets until January 11.

In the meantime, fans rushed to grab tickets, selling out the event within hours, organizers told the media.

Last year, Mardi Gras welcomed an estimated 250,000 spectators from around the world. More than 12,000 people took part in the annual parade, according to a 2017 news release from the organization.

Ticket sales for various events were already reaching unprecedented numbers back in November due to Australia’s marriage equality win, Terese Casu, CEO of Sydney Mardi Gras, told the Bay Area Reporter last month.

Event organizers issued a statement after confirming Cher would perform.

“Cher has established herself as an influential, hard-hitting voice in global politics, and throughout her career has been at the forefront of LGBTQI campaigns and numerous charities,” Casu stated. “Cher represents the same unapologetic and fearless freedom that makes the LGBTQI community so enduring and strong – positioning herself as a true gay icon.”

Cher’s chart-topping hits span five decades from “I Got You Babe,” a duet with her then-husband, the late Sonny Bono to “If I Could Turn Back Time,” and “Believe.”

The multi-talented artist also garnered a best actress Oscar, three Golden Globes, and an Emmy Award.

Organizers said that additional tickets will go on sale Tuesday, January 16 at 3 p.m. (Pacific Standard Time). Tickets, $86 – $199.88 (AUD 108.70 to 252.45), will be limited to two per person.

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is a 16-day festival from February 16 to March 4, filled with a variety of events including educational talks, arts, sports, and, of course, parties featuring top DJs from Australia and elsewhere.

Casu expects many visitors from around the world – especially, Canada, Europe, the United States, and the United Kingdom – to celebrate with Australians at this year’s historic Mardi Gras.

“Come and be a part of a moment that will never be again,” she said.

Don Harwin, minister for the arts in New South Wales, said this year’s Mardi Gras will be “momentous for LGBTQI Australians.”

“I have no doubt it will be the biggest and best yet,” he said in the release, noting that there is a lot to celebrate. “Cher fits this celebratory mood perfectly.”

“When it comes to international recording artists, they don’t get much bigger than Cher and as one of the LGBTQI community’s most vocal advocates, she is the perfect person to help celebrate Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras,” he added.

This year’s Mardi Gras will celebrate the 40th anniversary of when the 78ers rose up and fought the police attacks in the country’s version of the Stonewall riots, and last year’s marriage equality victory.

“It’s an amazing moment,” said Casu.

Organizers have held their sights to keep the event as a “platform for social justice and equality,” she added.

The event will take a retrospective look over the last 40 years as it celebrates community activists – lesbian activism to the history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic to same-sex families – who took Australia’s LGBT rights movement out of the shadows into acceptance.

“There’s no party like the Mardi Gras party,” said Casu. “We do such an extraordinary party.”

Cher will perform at the Mardi Gras Party 2018 at the Hordern Pavilion, Driver Avenue (next to the Entertainment Quarter), Moore Park at 10 p.m. March 3.

Mardi Gras is sponsored by the New South Wales government and tourism bureaus, Qantas, SBS, and KIIS 1065.

For more information, visit http://www.mardigras.org.au.

— Cynthia Laird, January 13, 2018 @ 8:40 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


San Francisco Supervisor Sheehy files for election

by Cynthia Laird

Gay District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy filed papers last week and has officially entered the June election to retain his seat.

Sheehy, a married gay dad who is the board’s first openly HIV-positive member, was appointed by the late Mayor Ed Lee a year ago to fill the seat vacated by Scott Wiener when he became state senator. The winner in the June election will serve out the remaining months of Wiener’s term, and must run in November for a full four-year term.

(Supervisor Jeff Sheehy takes the oath as he files paperwork to run for election in June. Photo: Courtesy Sheehy campaign)

(Supervisor Jeff Sheehy takes the oath as he files paperwork to run for election in June. Photo: Courtesy Sheehy campaign)

So far, Sheehy’s main opponent is gay City College of San Francisco Trustee Rafael Mandelman, who had his election kickoff last summer. Mandelman has said he plans to run in both races, regardless of who wins in June.

Sheehy was surrounded by his family – husband Bill Berry and their daughter, Michelle – and supporters as he completed paperwork January 5 at the Department of Elections in City Hall.

“As a young adult, I moved here from Texas to find safety – safety from people who did not like me because I am gay,” Sheehy said in a statement. “I came to San Francisco because it has always represented the ideals of equality and acceptance.”

Sheehy said that his priorities are neighborhood public safety and reducing car break-ins, ending tent encampments and “compassionately” responding to the city’s homeless crisis, helping long-term renters stay in the city, building affordable housing, and improving public schools.

Prior to becoming a supervisor, Sheehy was the communications director for UCSF’s AIDS Research Institute. He was appointed to the state’s stem cell board, a position he continues to hold. And he is a founding member of the city’s Getting to Zero Consortium, which aims to make San Francisco the first municipality to achieve the UNAIDS goals of zero new infections, zero HIV deaths, and zero stigma.

“Mayor Ed Lee appointed me to fight for our city’s values and protect health care from budget cuts,” Sheehy stated., “I have helped get LGBT kids off our streets, won increased police foot patrols, and banned bicycle chop shops.

“I have effectively led the fight against the Trump administration’s war on San Francisco,” he added.

— Cynthia Laird, January 8, 2018 @ 9:53 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


7 San Francisco cannabis dispensaries authorized for adult-use sales

by Cynthia Laird

Seven San Francisco medical marijuana dispensaries have been given the green light by the city to seek temporary state licensure to sell recreational marijuana Saturday, January 6.

The move comes as the federal government announced plans to crack down on legal sales of marijuana, though the outcome of that in states like California is not yet known.

(The Apothecarium is one of several medical cannabis dispensaries working to obtain a state license to sell recreational pot.)

(The Apothecarium is one of several medical cannabis dispensaries working to obtain a state license to sell recreational pot.)

The city’s Office of Cannabis on Friday said in a statement that it had made the recommendations to the state after consultation with the Department of Public Health. Both departments reviewed operators’ security plans, good neighbor policies, and equity plans, according to the statement.

Those authorized to seek a temporary state license include the Apothecarium, 2029 Market Street; Grass Roots, 1077 Post Street; Harvest on Geary, 4811 Geary Boulevard; MediThrive, 1933 Mission Street; Shambhala, 2441 Mission Street; ReLeaf Herbal Cooperative, 1284 Mission Street; and the Green Cross, 4218 Mission Street.

Eliot Dobris, spokesman for the Apothecarium, said the dispensary hoped to get its state license Friday.

“We have the city permit and are hopeful of getting the state permit today,” he said in a phone message.

[Updated: The Apothecarium received its state license late Friday afternoon, Dobris wrote in an email, and plans to be open Saturday for recreational pot sales. The Green Cross issued a news release Friday that said it has also received its state license and would be open Saturday for recreational sales.]

In order for the medical cannabis dispensaries to begin selling recreational marijuana, they must first receive a temporary adult-use retailer license from the state.

“The city has been working diligently and swiftly to move the cannabis industry to a regulated space so that our small businesses can be in compliance with late and local law – laws that are meant to better protect our communities and consumers,” Nicole Elliott, director of the Office of Cannabis, said in a statement.

Health Director Barbara Garcia said that the department anticipates working with retailers.

“As San Francisco implements legal adult-use cannabis, we look forward to the benefits to consumers, who will be able to know that they are buying products that are regulated and tested for quality and safety,” Garcia said in the statement.

San Francisco’s adult use regulations were one of the last things done by the late Mayor Ed Lee, whose office worked with gay District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy in developing them.

Sheehy said he was glad adult use was starting in San Francisco.

“Ed Lee and I worked on [the regulations] and after a lot of hard work the board passed solid regulations,” Sheehy said Friday. “As time goes by I hope it can be a model for other jurisdictions.”

State voters in 2016 approved adult use of recreational marijuana. Cities, counties, and the state worked for a year developing regulations. Under Proposition 64, the adult-use initiative, local jurisdictions can determine their own rules for recreational cannabis.

According to the Office of Cannabis, to date the city has received 31 submissions from medical marijuana dispensaries seeking adult-use authorization. These are being reviewed in the order in which they were received by the office, DPH, and the San Francisco Police Department.

— Cynthia Laird, January 5, 2018 @ 1:36 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Women leaders rally to keep Breed acting San Francisco mayor

by Cynthia Laird

Women leaders held a rally on the steps of San Francisco City Hall Thursday, January 4, to show support for acting Mayor London Breed and were critical of possible efforts by the supervisors to name a “caretaker” mayor who would not run for election in June.

On Friday, Breed pulled papers to run for mayor in June.

“I’m proud to announce I am running for mayor to lead the city I was born + raised in,” Breed wrote on Twitter Friday. “I’m not a partisan. I’m not an ideologue. I believe in a San Francisco where we succeed as one. Together there is no problem we can’t solve.”

(People gathered on the steps of City Hall Thursday for a rally in support of acting Mayor London Breed. Photo: Cynthia Laird)

(People gathered on the steps of City Hall Thursday for a rally in support of acting Mayor London Breed. Photo: Cynthia Laird)

At the rally, organizers said they wanted Breed to continue as acting mayor.

“It’s a statement about the process,” said Andrea Shorter, a lesbian and longtime activist who sits on the Commission on the Status of Women and helped organize the rally, which drew about 75 people on a rainy afternoon.

She and other speakers said that Breed should continue to serve as acting mayor until the June election. Breed became acting mayor by virtue of her being board president at the time of Mayor Ed Lee’s death December 12. She also remains president of the Board of Supervisors and the District 5 supervisor.

“We are gathered here today not to endorse in the June election,” said Debbie Mesloh, another organizer and former aide to Senator Kamala Harris when she was district attorney. “We’re saying the City Charter is clear and London Breed became acting mayor after the untimely death of Ed Lee. She was elected as District 5 supervisor twice, and elected board president twice.

“There is no reason to depose acting Mayor London Breed,” Mesloh, president of the Commission on the Status of Women, added.

The rally came days before the Board of Supervisors is set to meet for the first time in 2018. It is unclear if the board will vote at its meeting Tuesday, January 9, on appointing an interim mayor or will forego such a decision and leave Breed as acting mayor. Several of the city’s progressive supervisors have publicly questioned whether Breed should remain acting mayor and president of the board, suggesting it would be better to have one person as the city’s mayor and another person as president of the board.

In several interviews with the Bay Area Reporter, the board’s sole gay member, District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, has declined to state his own preference, saying the timing was “too soon” following Lee’s unexpected death.

According to a legal opinion by City Attorney Dennis Herrera that was issued December 12, Breed is the acting mayor and will remain so until the June election, unless the board chooses to appoint an interim mayor. Such a person would need six votes from the supervisors, who cannot vote for themselves.

Charter section 13.101.5(b) empowers the supervisors to appoint a successor to the deceased mayor to serve until the June 5 election, Herrera’s opinion states.

“If the Board of Supervisors does not act to appoint a successor, then the board president continues as acting mayor until the election,” the opinion states.

Last week, Herrera pulled papers to run for mayor, but has not officially entered the race.

Speakers at the rally argued that no caretaker needs to be appointed, that Breed is doing the job, and focused on the part of the charter that made Breed acting mayor.

“I’m here to add my voice in solidarity with our mayor, London Breed. She’s held the city together these last few weeks,” said Janice Mirikitani from Glide United Methodist Church.

She said that she was “personally offended” by the notion of a caretaker mayor “when London Breed has the proven experience, especially for women and poor families.”

“Talk is cheap” when it comes to breaking the glass ceiling, Mirikitani said, adding that she took exception to some who’ve suggested Breed step aside for an interim mayor to “level the playing field” in the upcoming mayor’s race.

And she pointed to the dwindling number of African-Americans who call San Francisco home. Breed is the city’s first female African-American mayor.

“She’s a five-star mayor,” former supervisor Amos Brown told the crowd, adding that Breed “has character … is competent … and has chemistry.”

“She’s no pushover and not afraid to speak truth to power,” said Brown, the longtime pastor at Third Avenue Baptist Church, where Breed is a member.

Sunny Schwartz, a lesbian and criminal justice expert and an official with the city’s probation department, told the crowd that early on she supported gay former state Senator Mark Leno’s mayoral campaign. (Leno announced last May that he was running in a race that was originally to be held in 2019. Lee’s death changed that, and now Leno is running in June.)

“Today is not about Mark Leno or Jane Kim,” Schwartz said, referencing the decision by Kim, the District 6 supervisor, to jump into the mayor’s race. “What this is about is a vibrant, smart leader who is our acting mayor. This is about rallying around out acting mayor. This has dropped in her lap.”

“Let us come together in these next five months,” she added. “Come June, people have a right to elect whoever we want.”

— Cynthia Laird, @ 11:51 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Redwood City man denies charges that he exposed himself, offered oral sex to cop

A Redwood City man has pleaded no contest to charges of attempted car theft, indecent exposure, and bribery of a police officer after he exposed himself to two people and offered a cop oral sex on New Year’s Eve.

At 7:30 p.m. Sunday, December 31, Kevin Frank Adkins, 34, allegedly approached a man who was sitting in his car after delivering a pizza and asked him for a ride to Safeway “so he could buy a cucumber to use [as] a dildo,” according to a summary by San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. Adkins’ pants were down and his genitals were exposed, said Wagstaffe.

When the victim refused Adkin’s request, Adkins allegedly got in the car “holding a metal object,” the DA said. After the victim took his keys, got out of the car, and called 911, Adkins “slid over” to the driver’s seat, realized the keys were gone, got out, and walked off, said Wagstaffe.

Twenty minutes later, a second victim was walking his dog and saw Adkins approaching him “with his genitals exposed and carrying a metal object,” according to Wagstaffe. “He called 911 and police arrived quickly.”

Responding police saw that Adkins’ genitals were still exposed and that he was carrying “a large kitchen lighter bent into an L Shape,” said Wagstaffe, who added that Adkins was under the influence of methamphetamine.

Adkins was arrested, and on the ride to the police station, he “several times offered to oral[ly] copulate the officer if the officer would let him go,” said the DA. At the station, Adkins “started masturbating in front of the officer.”

Adkins, who’s in custody on $100,000 bail, pleaded no contest Wednesday, January 3 to felony bribery of a police officer and misdemeanor charges of attempted car theft and indecent exposure in exchange for prosecutors agreeing not to seek a state prison sentence. 

Instead, Adkins was ordered to serve 90 days in county jail and placed on three years of supervised probation. He also must register as a sex offender, complete a treatment program, and abstain from drugs and alcohol, among other conditions.

Gerritt Rutgers, the attorney from the county’s Private Defender Program who was appointed to represent Adkins, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, January 3, 2018 @ 7:10 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Man stabbed outside Castro bar

A man was stabbed outside a bar in San Francisco’s Castro district early Sunday, police said.

The December 31 incident started around 1:30 a.m. when the victim exited the bar, which is in the 2100 Market Street, to smoke a cigarette. As he finished, “a homeless person with a blanket cloaked from head to toe made a slashing motion toward the victim’s lower leg,” according to police. The victim, 57, didn’t realize he’d been stabbed until after he reentered the bar.

His injury was described as non-life threatening laceration to his lower leg.

No arrests have been reported.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 6:26 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Man pulls out penis, then gun, in robbery at park

A suspect pulled out his penis, then a handgun, in a robbery early Saturday morning at San Francisco’s Buena Vista Park, according to police.

The incident occurred at 3:30 a.m. at Buena Vista and Park Hill avenues, near the southern edge of the park, which for years has been a popular gay cruising spot.

The suspect, who appeared to be in his 30s, agreed to drive the 29-year-old male victim home, said police. He then took out his penis and told the victim to pay him. When the victim refused, the suspect pulled out a handgun and demanded the victim’s cellphone, wallet, and keys. The suspect fled in an unknown direction.

No arrests have been reported. The victim wasn’t injured. Police didn’t specify where the two men met.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 6:07 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Diaz missing counseling appointments, curfew

David Diaz in his 2016 booking photo. (Photo: SFPD)

David Diaz in his 2016 booking photo. (Photo: San Francisco Police Department)

David Munoz Diaz, the San Francisco resident who since 2014 has been acquitted of murdering another man during a sexual encounter, accused of disfiguring another man, and charged with arson in a separate case, has been having problems on probation, a recent court appearance revealed.

In March, retired Superior Court Judge Donna Hitchens sentenced Diaz, 28, to five years probation after he pleaded guilty to false imprisonment in the disfigurement case in exchange for assault and other counts being dismissed. Hitchens warned him that a violation “no matter how minor will result in a prison term.”

Among other conditions, Diaz was ordered to adhere to get mental health counseling, adhere to a midnight curfew, and wear an ankle monitor for up to one year.

At a Friday, December 29 court appearance Assistant District Attorney Andrew Clark objected to Deputy Public Defender Rebecca Young’s request for Diaz’s ankle monitor to be removed early.

Diaz has “disengaged with his mental health clinician,” said Clark. “He has stopped going to his appointments and is on the brink of being dropped.” He’s also had nine curfew violations, said Clark.

Young acknowledged that a probation officer’s report included curfew violations, but she said that each time he’d been “less than 10 minutes” late, and his tardiness was caused by his work schedule. Diaz has two jobs, including one at a South of Market pizzeria, she said.

She added that on Thanksgiving night, he was late because he’d been in the hospital.

Reading from report, Young said that Diaz has been reporting to probation consistently, is working three to four days a week, has “stable housing” in the South of Market neighborhood, has cut back on his drinking “considerably,” and has paid $1,000 of restitution.

Diaz’s probation officer stated Diaz’s progress has been “mediocre,” but Young repeatedly said it should be considered “excellent.” She said that it’s rare that she’s had a client who’s been as consistent on probation as him.

Superior Court Judge Christopher Hite said that much of the report indicated Diaz’s progress has been “better than mediocre,” but he said he’s concerned that there was a violation in November from Diaz reportedly failing to charge his monitoring device.

Hite set a date of January 16 so that a probation officer can come to court to discuss Diaz’s case.

Outside the courtroom Friday, Diaz said that he’d been hospitalized in November because he was injured when “somebody tried to steal my car. Two guys tried to beat me up” and stole his phone.

He said police had investigated the incident, which occurred near Seventh and Howard streets. The Bay Area Reporter hasn’t found information from police to confirm that.

Diaz’s probation sentence stemmed from a November 29, 2016 incident in which police said he handcuffed and bit a chunk out of another man’s scalp while impersonating a cop.

Prosecutors alleged that he’d cut and disabled the victim’s tongue, put out one of his eyes, and slit his “nose, ear, and lip.” Both men were hospitalized after the brawl.

Young has attributed Diaz’s problems to late night drinking. She’s also said that in the 2016 incident, he’d been defending himself.

Murder, arson cases

In 2014, Diaz stood trial for the June 2011 death of Freddy Canul-Arguello, 23, in Buena Vista Park. During the trial, Diaz testified that Canul-Arguello had asked to be choked during a sexual encounter and that he’d accidentally killed him.

Jurors acquitted Diaz of second-degree murder but convicted him of involuntary manslaughter, among other charges. He was released in September 2014.

In 2015, Diaz was arrested again for allegedly starting fires in the Castro district. He pleaded guilty in August 2016 to possessing an incendiary device and a count of second-degree burglary. He was released in September after being sentenced to a year of mandatory supervision and being ordered to register as an arsonist for life, among other terms.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 5:35 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Men robbed at gunpoint in Duboce Triangle incidents

Two men were robbed at gunpoint early Thursday morning in separate incidents in the Duboce Triangle area, according to police.

In the first incident, two men who appeared to be in their 20s approached the victim, 37, just after 1 a.m. at 15th and Noe streets. One suspect pointed a handgun at the victim and demanded his property. The victim complied and handed over his backpack, laptop, and cash, said police. At least one of the suspects fled on foot south on Noe toward Market Street.

The second robbery occurred nearby just after 1 a.m. and involved two suspects. In this incident, a man exited a vehicle and approached the victim, 59. He then pointed a handgun at the victim and demanded his property. The victim complied, giving up his wallet and cash. The suspect, who appeared to be between the ages of 25 and 30, got back into the vehicle, which was last seen fleeing east on Duboce toward Church, according to police. A description of the second suspect wasn’t available.

Neither of the victims were injured.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 27, 2017 @ 1:42 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Woman robbed at knifepoint in Castro

Two people robbed a 36-year-old woman at knifepoint early Friday night in San Francisco’s Castro district, according to police.

The incident occurred between 6 and 6:30 p.m. As the victim was walking near Castro and 18th streets, one suspect approached her from behind and pushed her forward. The second suspect approached the victim from behind, pulled out a knife, and demanded her property, said police. The two suspects, who appeared to be 25 to 30 years old, then fled in an unknown direction.

The victim wasn’t injured, but the suspects stole her bag, cash, phone, and jacket, according to police, who didn’t provide the suspects’ genders.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 1:18 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


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