Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 42 / 19 October 2017
 

Donations sought for film on same-sex, binational couples

The people behind a documentary about the plights of binational same-sex couples are seeking just over $4,000 to complete their film.

Entry Denied follows three couples, including two Oakland men, who’ve struggled to stay together. The film’s executive producers are two-time Academy Award winning filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (The Times of Harvey Milk).

Under U.S. immigration law, an American citizen can sponsor his or her spouse or qualifying family member for immigration benefits. But because of the Defense of Marriage Act, which bans federal recognition of same-sex marriages, that right is denied to gay and lesbian couples. The law means many people in binational relationships have unfortunate options to choose from: staying together in the U.S. and risking the foreign partner’s deportation, leaving the country together, living in separate countries, or splitting up.

Geert Botzen, 51, (at left in photo) and Mel Terry, 64, (at right) who live in Oakland and have been together for 33 years, are one of the three couples featured in the film. They became legally married in California in 2008.

After first being threatened with deportation in 1996, Botzen, who’s originally from the Netherlands, finally received his green card in 2010.

Botzen said that he and Terry started participating in the film when he was still “illegal.”

“We had made the decision not to go underground,” Botzen said. “If anything, we would fight the whole situation.” He said the film offered the perfect opportunity “to fight the policy, not just for ourselves, obviously, but for anyone else who was in a similar situation.”

James Q. Chan, the documentary’s line producer, said the filmmakers need to raise $4,200 by Friday, October 7 in order to finish the movie. The total budget for the film is $120,000. To make a donation, visit the film’s Kickstarter page.

The filmmakers have submitted a rough cut of the documentary to the Sundance Film Festival and hope to show it there in January 2012, Chan said.

 

— Seth Hemmelgarn, September 30, 2011 @ 2:55 pm PST
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Equality Forum marks LGBT History Month

October is LGBT History Month, and this year the group Equality Forum is honoring people ranging from comedian Wanda Sykes, an out lesbian, to Daniel Hernandez Jr., the openly gay intern who helped save the life of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona). Giffords was targeted in an assassination attempt in January.

The month is intended to provides role models, teach history, and celebrate the LGBT community’s “important national and international contributions,” according to an Equality Forum statement.

Each day in October, an Icon is featured with a free video, biography, bibliography, downloadable images, and other educational resources.

Through a grant from the MAC AIDS Fund, LGBT History Month 2011 includes an internal search engine for all 186 Icons from 2006 to 2011. By clicking on “Icon Search” and choosing from over 200 tags, users will find links to all Icons in that category and their resources.

For more information, including a full list of honorees, visit www.equalityforum.com.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 1:44 pm PST
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Man robbed at gunpoint on Castro area street

A man was robbed at gunpoint in the Castro area late Wednesday night (Wednesday, September 28) not far from the neighborhood’s bars and the Metropolitan Community Church-San Francisco.

The incident occurred at 11:25 p.m. near 220 Eureka Street. The victim, identified as Jason Trevino, reported to police that he was texting and walking down the west side of Eureka when two men walking up the street approached him.

One suspect pulled a black, semi-automatic handgun from his back and pointed it at Trevino, saying, “Give me everything you have, your money, your wallet, everything,” according to police.

Trevino reported that the second suspect then took his messenger bag, which contained an iPod and other items. Trevino gave the man his cell phone and wallet, which contained $30 and his Visa bank card, among other possessions.

The first suspect, who pointed his gun at Trevino throughout the incident, said, “You have five seconds. Run. Five, four, three, two … ,” Trevino reported.

He told officers that he immediately began running up Eureka toward 19th Street and didn’t look back to see where the suspects went, but that he would be able to recognize both of the men. He wasn’t injured during the incident.

Trevino called police minutes after the incident from a friend’s phone. The officers who responded weren’t able to locate any surveillance cameras or other evidence of the robbery near the scene, they reported. The incident occurred in a part of the street that is mostly residential.

After making his report, Trevino later called police again and told them that someone had charged $1 to his stolen bank card, but he couldn’t provide the exact time, location, or nature of the purchase.

Other officers soon reported that while searching near the 500 block of Eureka for a suspicious vehicle, they located what appeared to be Trevino’s messenger bag and work identification.

The first suspect is described as a black man, 22 to 27 years old, 5 feet 10 inches, weighing 180 pounds. He was wearing a dark baseball hat cocked to the right with a blue logo; a dark, baggy T-shirt; and dark jeans.

The second suspect is described as a black man, 5 feet 9 inches, weighing 180 pounds. He was wearing a dark red baseball cap with a New Era logo on the side; a dark, baggy T-shirt; dark jeans; and diamond earrings.

No arrests have been made. Police provided a copy of the report to the Bay Area Reporter. Trevino, who lives in San Francisco, hasn’t responded to interview requests. His age hasn’t been released

The incident Wednesday occurred just hours after out gay Supervisor Scott Wiener, who represents the Castro and other neighborhoods, spoke to San Francisco’s Police Commission, Police Chief Greg Suhr, Mission District residents, and others about safety in the Castro.

He said that despite what people often think, the neighborhood isn’t a crime-free “bubble.” There are “quite a few robberies and assaults that don’t always get reported,” said Wiener, who was speaking at a Police Commission meeting at Cesar Chavez Elementary School. “… We need to learn how to take care of ourselves and be safe and be aware.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, September 29, 2011 @ 7:53 pm PST
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Memorial set for activist Eric Quezada

A memorial is set for Sunday, September 25 to remember Eric Quezada (seen at left), the Mission neighborhood activist who died of cancer in August.

The event is 2 to 5 p.m. at Horace Mann Middle School, 3351 23rd Street in San Francisco.

Featured speakers will include out gay Supervisor David Campos, who defeated Quezada in his bid for the District 9 seat in 2008, as well as Supervisors John Avalos and Eric Mar. Supervisors have proclaimed Sunday “Eric Quezada Day.”

Quezada, 45, was the executive director of Dolores Street Community Services. He and officials from other nonprofits had been working to expand Dolores Street’s homeless shelter to include space welcoming to LGBTs. A completion date for the project has not been announced.

A statement from Quezada’s associates said, “Quezada inspired thousands of San Franciscans to stand up for housing justice and immigrant rights,” and helped form groups ranging from the Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition to the San Francisco Immigration Legal and Education Network. He’s also been praised for ensuring the inclusion of LGBT issues in immigration reform discussions.

Francisco Ugarte, a friend and colleague of Quezada’s, stated that Quezada was “a giant in the progressive movement in San Francisco and touched the lives of countless people.  For more than two decades, Eric worked in grassroots struggles to advance the rights of low-income folks, from housing and immigrant rights to solidarity with struggles for justice around the globe. Eric’s legacy gives us hope to believe in a better tomorrow.”

At the memorial, organizers will be collecting letters to Quezada’s daughter Ixchel. As a tribute to Quezada, and to help Ixchel know who her father was, people who knew Eric are asked to write letters to Ixchel about what Quezada meant to them.

Lorena Melgarejo, Quezada’s wife, and other friends and family members will offer testimonials at the service. Peformers will include Guatemalan singer Ana Nitmar and local singer-songwriter Francisco Herrera.

For more information, visit Quezada’s Facebook page.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, September 23, 2011 @ 12:18 pm PST
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NCLR criticizes Troy Davis execution

The National Center for Lesbian Rights has issued a statement criticizing the execution of Troy Davis in Georgia.

The San Francisco-based nonprofit’s reaction serves as an example of an organization that typically focuses on LGBT reaching beyond the gay community. Such moves are seen as crucial to winning allies.

Davis was executed Wednesday, September 21 for the 1989 murder of Savannah Policeman Mark MacPhail. That was despite seven witnesses from Davis’s trial recanting their testimony and a complete lack of physical evidence linking him to the crime, according to NCLR. Davis maintained his innocence until he was killed by lethal injection.

“This is a sad and shameful day for justice and democracy,” NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell said in a statement released Thursday, September 22. “With scant and tainted evidence the State of Georgia proceeded with its scheduled execution of Troy Davis.  Every barrier to protect a possibly innocent man from death fell away and now we all bear some measure of responsibility for Davis’s death. As a nation, we have lost a bit of our decency and humanity with Davis’s execution.”

She added that it’s “long past time” for everyone who’s “committed to a just and fair system to renounce the death penalty.”

Since the unsuccessful campaign to defeat California’s Prop 8 same-sex marriage ban in 2008, some LGBT groups have been talking about building relationships with communities that aren’t strictly gay. The No on 8 campaign was heavily criticized for communities of color and others.

Like Kendell, former Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors was on the No on 8 executive committee. Since the state’s voters passed Prop 8 passed, EQCA has been trying to reach out to other minority groups. Current Executive Director Roland Palencia has appeared especially eager to work with other social justice organizations, but EQCA has not issued a statement on Davis’s execution.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 12:19 am PST
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Update: Man arrested on robbery, assault charges after Trigger brawl

An Oakland man was arrested early Wednesday morning, September 21, after a brawl at San Francisco’s Trigger club in which he allegedly robbed one woman and punched another.

Cortez Whitfield, 24, (seen at left) is in San Francisco County Jail. Police booked him on felony charges of second-degree robbery and assault with a deadly weapon likely to cause great bodily injury. The District Attorney’s office doesn’t appear to have charged him yet.

According to police, officers arrived at the Castro area venue, 2344 Market Street, at about 1:15 a.m. Wednesday. A woman told them that she and Vanessa Anderson, 25, both of Daly City, had been on the ground floor when a large fight broke out near them.

The woman said that during the incident she became distracted and felt someone reach into her front pocket. She told police that she looked up and saw a man she later identified as Whitfield.

She punched him in the face twice, she told police, and Whitfield punched her three to four times. After being punched, she fell to the floor and curled up to protect herself, she said.

Whitfield then kicked her in the face repeatedly as she lay on the ground, the woman told officers. Security broke up the fight and escorted her outside, where she called police. Paramedics were called but she refused treatment.

Anderson told police that when the fight broke out near her and the woman, she felt someone remove her iPhone from her back pocket. She said that when she turned around, she saw Whitfield trying to reach into the woman’s pocket. Anderson also said she saw Whitfield punch the woman before he disappeared inside the club. She later told officers that Whitfield had hit her, too.

When the woman pointed Whitfield out to officers outside the club minutes later, he said that he hadn’t done anything, according to the incident report police provided to the Bay Area Reporter. Anderson also identified Whitfield as the suspect.

Police eventually searched Whitfield, but they didn’t find Anderson’s phone on him. He told them that he’d left the club after witnessing the initial fight and had been waiting for a friend to pick him up when the woman identified him.

Whitfield indicated in his written statement that several other men in the bar matched his description and said that the woman had been “hella” drunk.

He added, “I Cortez R. Whitfield will not hit a girl never did never will don’t matter how up set I get (sic).”

After police handcuffed Whitfield and placed him in the back of their patrol car, Tyana Labranch, 23, of Oakland, told an officer that she’d been with Whitfield most of the night on the club’s second floor. She said that she’d seen the fight downstairs, which included “lots of pushing and shoving,” and she’d seen a woman matching the woman’s description get pushed to the ground. Labranch said that Whitfield had been with her and wasn’t involved in the fight.

Police weren’t able to find other witnesses, and Trigger security personnel told them that the club’s surveillance system doesn’t record “and can only be viewed in real time.”

(This post is an updated version of a story that appeared Wednesday, September 21.)

— Seth Hemmelgarn, September 22, 2011 @ 11:31 pm PST
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Man robs one woman, knocks down another on Castro dance floor

San Francisco police have arrested a man for robbing one woman and knocking down another on the dance floor of a Castro area club this morning (Wednesday, September 21).

According to police, the incident occurred at 1:15 a.m. at a club on the 2300 block of Market Street. The two women, ages 23 and 24, were on the dance floor when the man approached and took the phone out of the 24-year-old’s back pockets.

The women struggled with the suspect, who pushed the 23-year-old victim to the ground. The man, who’s also 23, fled and was subsequently arrested, police said. Neither the suspect’s name nor the name of the club have been released, and a police spokesman wasn’t available for comment this afternoon.

Greg Carey, chair of Castro Community on Patrol, said he wasn’t familiar with the incident, but dance floor pick pocketing is common.

“If someone sees a phone in a pocket or in someone’s hand, it’s pretty much a crime of opportunity,” he said.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, September 21, 2011 @ 7:08 pm PST
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Treasure Island porn company posts reminders of Folsom Street Fair ban

Just in time for San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair (Sunday, September 25), Treasure Island Media – the porn company most famous for its barebacking videos – is reminding people that it’s been banned from the fair.

The company recently put up signs outside its offices at 351 9th Street that say “Banned. Come see why.” The signs (seen at right) encourage people to come to the patch of street outside their offices Sunday.

Folsom Street Events Executive Director Demetri Moshoyannis was clearly annoyed when asked about the ban, telling the Bay Area Reporter that covering the 86′ing is “lame” and “I don’t think it’s news.”

“They haven’t been allowed back to the fair for several years now, because they refuse to follow our exhibitor guidelines,” Moshoyannis said. “It’s as simple as that.” He estimated the porn company’s been banned for at least three years.

He said the blacklisting has “nothing to do with the fact they’re a bareback porn company,” and explained that exhibitors aren’t supposed to allow sex in their booth spaces.

Moshoyannis said he doesn’t want the fair jeopardized, apparently afraid of actions the city might take if rules on public sex are broken.

“Just don’t get the fair in trouble,” Moshoyannis said. “I don’t want to see the community suffer because of a bunch of idiots.” The fair raises hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for nonprofits.

Treasure Island was asked repeatedly to stop violating the sex policy before they were kicked out, Moshoyannis said, to no avail.

“They have figured out ways to still be involved,” he said, including setting up shop in Mack – Folsom Prison, at 1285 Folsom Street. He said the sex club is an indoor venue that “just happens to be on the fairgrounds.”

He said the ban is unrelated to the movie Treasure Island made a few years ago with the words “Folsom Street Fair” in the title. He said Folsom Street officials had warned the company against the title and issued a cease and desist order.

“You’re not supposed to film on the fair grounds and use ‘Folsom Street Fair’ without consulting us,” Moshoyannis said. “We have copyright protections.”

Treasure Island General Manager Matt Mason said the company’s been banned since 2009. He said a request for a booth that year was denied because, a Folsom Street exhibitors official told them, they’d broken the rules the previous year. Violations included encouraging unsafe sex practices in the booth space, according to a letter the fair volunteer sent to Treasure Island.

Mason said there had been people having sex in the company’s booth area, and “We’re not protesting that these acts didn’t happen.”

Some of the people who’d engaged in the sex in question have appeared in Treasure Island films, he said. Someone posted photos of the acts on one of the company’s websites.

“There’s nothing we really want to defend,” he said. “…We’re raising money to benefit others. If [Folsom Street doesn’t] want our money, they don’t want it.” He didn’t know how much a booth would have cost them this year, since they haven’t applied.

Folsom Street Events has a trademark in several product categories on the word “Folsom.” That appears to have led to more trouble between Treasure Island and fair officials.

Mason said his company tried to make a lube with a name that included “Folsom,” and even though the product was never made, Folsom Street officials “said we couldn’t come back to the fair.”

Additionally, the Treasure Island film “Plantin’ Seed (Folsom Underground)” also irked fair organizers, he said.

As Moshoyannis said, the ban hasn’t stopped Treasure Island from coming being involved with the fair.

Mason said that in 2009, Treasure Island joined Dark Alley Media at their booth and sold DVDs. Nobody from the fair said anything to them at the time, he said.

In 2010, he said, Treasure Island held an event in a garage adjoining Mack – Folsom Prison that included selling DVDs.

Moshoyannis said nobody else has been banned from the fair, although “We’ve had to give other companies warnings from time to time.” The others “usually comply right away,” he said.

Asked whether he knew what the signs’ plea to “Come see why” might mean, Moshoyannis said, “No, but it certainly got your attention, didn’t it? … You’re writing a story about nothing, and they got you to write a story about nothing.”

Mason explained the publicity ploy. Anyone expecting porn stars practicing their craft in the middle of Ninth Street will likely be disappointed.

He said the company would be selling DVDs in the lobby and giving away T-shirts and other goods “so our fans know we still are there, and we still represent them.” He added that whether people use condoms or prefer barebacking, “freedom of sex is what we support.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 4:05 pm PST
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Judge orders Prop 8 trial video unsealed; grants limited stay

U.S. District Court Judge James Ware granted a motion this morning (Monday, September 19) to unseal the videotape of last year’s historic trial on Proposition 8, California’s same-sex marriage ban.  At the same time, he granted a stay until Friday, September 30. His decision to unseal the video is likely to be appealed quickly.

Ware heard arguments last month in his San Francisco courtroom over releasing the video.

Ted Boutrous, one of the top attorneys for the team challenging Proposition 8 in the federal Perry vs. Brown lawsuit, told Ware at the time that releasing the videotapes would enable the public to “see and hear” why Ware’s predecessor ruled Prop 8 unconstitutional. A lengthy, written transcript of the full proceeding has been available to the public for some time.

At the time of the Prop 8 trial, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was just beginning to roll out a new program to consider allowing for broadcast of trials and hearings. Judge Vaughn Walker, who presided over the Prop 8 trial, asked to allow broadcast of that trial as part of the new program. Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in and said no.

David Thompson, an attorney for Yes on 8, said his legal team did not object to Walker’s videotaping of the trial because of Walker’s assurances that the video would be used only by him, in chambers, in preparation of his final decision in the case.

In August 2010, Walker ruled Prop 8 unconstitutional. On September 6, the California Supreme Court heard oral arguments on whether there is any authority in state law to justify allowing Yes on 8 attorneys to appeal Walker’s decision in Perry v. Brown given that state officials have decided against appeal and have asked to abide by Walker’s decision. Their decision is expected soon.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, September 19, 2011 @ 10:26 am PST
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Wiener gets bent over nudity coverage

Out gay San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener is complaining about local coverage of his legislation involving naked people.

In a piece headlined  “Ah, Nudity!!!” that appears today (Friday, September 16) in his monthly newsletter, Wiener says he’s spent “so much of my time working on key issues” like Muni and housing, but “the media decided to obsess on a very minor piece of legislation that I offered – providing some sanitary standards for naked people.”

Wiener’s legislation, which he submitted September 6, was in response to complaints about a handful of men who like to roam naked (such as the men at left), especially in the Castro, which Wiener represents.

The proposal would require anyone sitting naked on public seating to cover it with a towel. People also would be banned from being nude in restaurants.

“While the San Francisco press has chosen to sensationalize the issue – one that is a real issue in the Castro – other press, fortunately, have seen the sense in the legislation and have reported it for what it is: common sense, sanitary legislation,” Wiener said.

He then provides a link to a September 12 Chicago Tribune story.

As Wiener notes, “In San Francisco, public nudity is more or less legal.” He says police can arrest or cite a naked person only if they’re “aroused,” or if somebody sings a citizen’s arrest.

“Juries are not keen on convicting people of nudity offenses,” Wiener says.

He concludes by saying, “There are a lot of views about public nudity and whether it should be banned – and believe me, I’ve heard each and every one of those diverse opinions in the past few weeks.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, September 16, 2011 @ 4:26 pm PST
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