Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

Pedestrian hit in Castro collision dies

[Updated Thursday, April 5]: The pedestrian who was hit by a bicyclist while crossing Castro Street last week has died.

The San Fransico Medical Examiner’s office has identified the man as Sutchi Hui, 71, of San Bruno. The cause of death is pending.

Sergeant Michael Andraychak, a spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department, said that Hui, who’d been taken to San Francisco General Hospital immediately after the collision, died in the hospital Tuesday, April 3.

Andraychak said he couldn’t release the bicyclist’s name. He said that the investigation into the collision is ongoing and no one has been charged. The police inspector examining the case has been consulting with the district attorney’s office, he said.

According to police, the bicyclist was riding south on Castro Street at Market Street at about 8:08 a.m. last Thursday, March 29, when he struck Hui, who was walking eastbound in the crosswalk.

Witnesses indicated that the bicyclist may have run a red light, police said. Both men were taken to San Francisco General Hospital. As of last Thursday, the bicyclist’s condition was non-life threatening. Hui’s injuries were initially reported by police as life threatening, but they had been upgraded to non-life threatening soon after the incident.

Omid Talai, a spokesman for the DA’s office, hasn’t responded to interview requests on the case.

Andraychak said he didn’t know whether Hui or the bicyclist were LGBT.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 29, 2012 @ 11:48 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Judge in SF postpones binational couple’s deportation hearing

A gay binational Bay Area couple got a reprieve today from the federal immigration judge handling their deportation case.

Brian Willingham, 37, a U.S. citizen, and Alfonso Garcia, 35, a citizen of Mexico, appeared before Judge Amy Hoogasian in San Francisco today (Thursday, March 22). Hoogasian postponed the hearing to October in order to allow the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services time to review Willingham’s green card petition for Garcia.

In an interview, Willingham, who lives with Garcia in Orinda, said the hearing was “fantastic.”

“The judge treated us with the same the respect they’d give to any married couple,” he said.

Willingham said the assistant U.S. attorney handling the case also was respectful and “didn’t try to force the issue.”

Despite living in the Bay Area for more than 20 years and, according to Willingham, Garcia not having a criminal record, the Obama administration’s been trying to deport Garcia to Mexico.

The couple has been together since 2001 and got married in New York in 2011, not long after that state legalized same-sex marriages. They didn’t marry in California during the brief period in 2008 when such unions could be legally performed. That window of opportunity ended that November when voters passed the state’s Proposition 8 same-sex marriage ban.

Because of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government doesn’t recognize Willingham and Garcia’s marriage.

Willingham said the seven months give the couple another kind of opportunity.

“Now, we’ve just got to somehow convince the Obama administration to step up and instruct folks at UCIS to hold the petition in abeyance if they can’t find a way to approve it,” Willingham said.

The couple has sought help from California Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein (both Democrats) and Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek), but so far, there hasn’t been much progress.

“Not a single one of them was wiling to step up to the plate and do anything for today’s hearing,” Willingham said. However, he said he’s confident that over the next several months they can win the assistance of at least one of the lawmakers.

Spokesmen for Boxer and Feinstein have said the senators’ staffs are reviewing the case. A spokesman for Garamendi has said the options for how his staff can be helpful are “limited.”

Willingham said DOMA is unconstitutional (some judges have agreed) and officials “all know it’s wrong” that the law is being used to try to force Garcia out of the country for at least 10 years.

“Now, we just need to get them to support me at the local level,” Willingham said.

Garcia said the process has been “stressful,” and the couple’s had to put their lives on hold.

However, he said he’s “very happy” the judge has delayed their case.

“I’m fighting for what I believe, which is my right to marry Brian,” Garcia said.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 22, 2012 @ 6:01 pm PST
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Apothecarium pot club helps Maitri buy awning

San Francisco’s Apothecarium medical marijuana dispensary has donated $2,000 to buy an awning for medical pot smokers at Maitri, which provides hospice and short-term care for people living with HIV and AIDS.

Apothecarium co-owner Ryan Hudson in 2010

In an email blast Tuesday, March 20, the pot club announced they provided the funding this month to help Maitri purchase and install an automatic cover for their patio.

The outdoor space is where patients go to medicate “and, unfortunately, when the weather is inclement, they are forced to huddle in a corner for shelter,” the Apothecarium’s email says. “This creates a less than ideal situation for hospice patients who need to medicate, to say the least.”

According to the dispensary, donors to Maitri, which is at 401 Duboce Avenue, “didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of supporting a project that essentially encourages medical cannabis use.” (Maitri also has a patio for non-smokers.)

In an email, Maitri Executive Director Michael Smithwick said, “The Apothecarium is a generous supporter of Maitri’s residential care program for low-income San Franciscans with advanced AIDS … . Since many of our residents enjoy sitting outside in the open air, [the awning] will enable them to do so in shaded comfort on warm days and in dry comfort on wet days.”

He said his agency appreciates the support of the dispensary, donors, and volunteers “during these challenging times of federal funding cuts to organizations such as ours that provide vital services to people with AIDS.”

Laws governing medical cannabis dispensaries restrict the businesses from turning a profit, so before the Apothecarium opened last June, co-owner Ryan Hudson pledged to funnel any profits back into the community.

In December, the Apothecarium, located at 2095 Market Street, distributed $1,000 apiece to Maitri and Larkin Street Youth Services, and $500 to Pets Are Wonderful Support.

At the time, Hudson said they were still paying down construction and other start-up costs for the shop. Those expenses came to “something in the low six figures,” he said. He expected to have the expenses paid off this year.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 21, 2012 @ 7:19 pm PST
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SJ Pride holding LGBT night at Sharks hockey game

Organizers of the San Jose Pride celebration have announced plans for the second annual LGBT night with the city’s Sharks hockey team. This year, they’ve also worked to engage youth in the event, which is meant to raise money for the Sunday, August 19 Pride parade and festival.

The game is set for 7 p.m., Monday, March 19 at HP Pavilion, 525 West Santa Clara Street, San Jose. The Sharks will be playing against the Anaheim Ducks.

In a statement, Gay Pride Celebration Committee of San Jose Inc. board member Robert Parra said, “As a community leader, it is very important to have this event, because it supports and shows both the LGBT and non-LGBT sports community that we all enjoy watching sports, as well as building community partnership with the Sharks.”

Members of the gay-straight alliance at San Jose’s Caroline Davis Intermediate are planning to attend. The Rainbow Chamber of Commerce of Silicon Valley donated over $200 to support the students’ attendance. Organizers said it would be the youths’ first Sharks game.

In Pride’s statement, GSA advisor Mary Melnick referred to the event as “a great opportunity” for the students “to attend a community event surrounded by like-minded folk who support and celebrate diversity as much as we do.”

Rainbow Chamber President Robert O. Robledo stated that by participating in the evening, his group’s “educating our youth that one day they may be business owners [and] supporters and that the chamber is around as a resource for their personal and professional growth.”

Tickets are still available through Pride’s website.

Pride officials said that Sharks rookie Tommy Wingels, 2011 Most Valuable Player Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks and other National Hockey League players are supporting the You Can Play Project, which promotes respect for all athletes.

However, the Sharks don’t appear to have recorded an It Gets Better video supporting LGBT youth. That’s despite the encouragement of people like Sean Chapin, who prompted the San Francisco Giants baseball team to join the video project.

A search for the Sharks on the It Gets Better website yielded no results late today (Friday, March 16). Spokespeople for the Sharks didn’t respond to interview requests.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 16, 2012 @ 6:54 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

New aide joins Wiener’s staff

Adam Taylor, left, Scott Wiener, and Andres Power

A new  legislative aide has joined the staff of gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener.

Andres Power, 32, started work in the Castro area representative’s office this week.

Power, who’s  gay, joins aide Adam Taylor, another out gay man, and replaces Gillian Gillett. Gillett was recently named Mayor Ed Lee’s chief transportation policy advisor.

“I think he’s a great person to work for,” Power said of Wiener. “He’s smart, and very active and engaged in issues in both District 8 and the city as a whole.”

“Andres, like Gillian, is a real talent,” Wiener said in his newsletter today (Thursday, March 15).

Power began with the city’s planning department in 2006. There, among other work, he managed various streetscaping projects and created the pavement to parks program. He was instrumental in the creation of Jane Warner Plaza, at Castro and Market streets.

Wiener was elected to the board in November 2010. Since then, Power has worked with him on development projects and parks including Jane Warner Plaza, which has become a popular spot since it debuted as a temporary parklet in 2009.

Power said, “I loved the work I was doing” in planning, but “at the same time it’s always good to change. … I felt like the opportunity here was a great one.”

In Wiener’s office, Power will be dealing with areas including land use, transportation, and public spaces. He declined to state his salary.

A former resident of the city’s Lower Haight neighborhood, Power recently moved to Oakland to buy a home with his partner, Rod Hipskind, 40.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 15, 2012 @ 3:35 pm PST
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Pelosi to mark 25 years in Congress next month at National AIDS Memorial Grove

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) will celebrate her 25th year of serving in Congress by volunteering at the National AIDS Memorial Grove.

The powerful lawmaker, who made fighting for federal AIDS funding a key issue when she first joined the House in 1987, will take part in a community volunteer workday at the Grove Saturday, April 21.

Pelosi was instrumental in passing legislation in 1996 that designated the woodland dell in Golden Gate Park as a national monument to those lost to the AIDS epidemic. It is the only federally recognized AIDS memorial in the country and marked its 20th anniversary last fall.

In an email sent to volunteers and supporters, the nonprofit that tends to the grove said it was “delighted to announce” Pelosi’s upcoming visit. It noted that since Pelosi’s first speech on the House floor, the lawmaker has been a constant champion of HIV issues.

“In her first speech to the Congress in 1987, Nancy Pelosi famously said she came to the House of Representatives to fight AIDS. In those days, some people suggested that she might not want to become identified with that particular cause,” stated the email. “But Pelosi wanted to share what San Francisco had learned about prevention and care with the rest of the country, referring to the ‘San Francisco model of care.'”

Her visit next month will be the third time Pelosi has commemorated a milestone year in Congress at the grove. On both her 10th and 20th anniversary years in Congress, she planted commemorative trees there.

According to the grove’s email, today those “trees stand strong and graceful.”

The public is welcome to also volunteer that day alongside Pelosi, seen in the photo above at a volunteer day last August with grove Executive Director John Cunningham.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 1:49 pm PST
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Students at SF middle school combat homophobia

Several students at Francisco Middle School in San Francisco’s Marina district have created a program to address homophobia in their school.

Jessica Pullano, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Education Fund, which is involved with the project, said that since none of the students are openly LGBT, they’re not calling it a gay-straight alliance.

The eighth grade Peer Resources class has created Allied Allegiance, a weekly lunchtime club where students can work on projects designed to encourage acceptance. Activities include guest LGBT speakers. So far, there are 12 club members.

According to Pullano, students’ reasons for starting the club included: “I want to stop homophobia because my friend is gay and his dad beat him and I know that he probably faces that same problem at school” and “My LGBT friends have been bullied and some considered suicide. My family doesn’t approve but I don’t care what they think. Some people even assume I’m Bi because my friends are.”

In forming the group, the youths also got some experience in grant writing. They submitted a funding application to a panel of other students and were granted $700.

The money will be used to provide lunches, produce flyers in English and Cantonese (many of the school’s students only speak the latter language), and cover other expenses.

Peer Resources is a joint effort between the San Francisco Unified School District and the education fund. The program’s classes are meant to help middle and high school students take an active role in creating safe, engaging, and supportive learning environments.

The club’s organizing a Day of Silence event in support of LGBT youth on April 5.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 14, 2012 @ 4:25 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Gays, California residents expected at State Dinner for British PM Cameron

Among the bold-faced names attending tonight’s (Wednesday, March 14) State Dinner for David Cameron, Great Britain’s prime minister, and his wife, Samantha Cameron, are a host of LGBT people and California officials.

Chief among them are Chad Griffin, (in photo at left) the incoming president of the national LGBT group the Human Rights Campaign, and the Golden State’s Attorney General Kamala Harris, San Francisco’s former district attorney.

The founder of the nonprofit that challenged California’s ban against same-sex marriage in federal court, Griffin was bringing  Jerome Fallon as his plus one. Harris, who refused to defend the anti-gay Prop 8 in the lawsuit, was bringing her sister Maya.

The White House released a list of guests expected to attend the lavish affair shortly before guests began arriving.

John Berry, a gay man who is director of the Obama administration’s Office of Personnel Management, was invited and his guest is longtime partner Curtis Yee.

Gay philanthropist David Bohnett, who lives in Beverly Hills, was set to attend with Deborah Borda, president of the LA Philharmonic whose board Bohnett chairs. Beverly Hills attorney Dana Perlman, a member of the HRC Board of Governors, and his partner Hugh Kinsellagh, were also at the State Dinner this week.

Jonathan Capehart, a gay black man who is a political columnist for the Washington Post, was listed as bringing guest Nicholas Schmit IV. British born Andrew Sullivan, a gay conservative who writes for Newsweek/Daily Beast, was going with Aaron Tone by his side.

Capehart wrote about the large number of LGBT invitees the next day, as did Sullivan, who posted a photo of himself and his husband Tone on his blog.

Adding some celebrity buzz to the affair, both singer John Legend and actor George Clooney were invited.

San Francisco resident John Scully, the board chairman of Advent Software, and his wife, Regina, were said to be attending.

Other LGBT guests included Hilary Rosen, a political analyst for CNN and managing director of the Public Affairs and Communications Practice of SKDKnickerbocker; Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers; Sally Susman, executive vice president of policy, external affairs, and communications at Pfizer Inc.; and Bradley Kiley, director of the Office of Management and Administration.


— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 3:53 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Dolores Park playground to open; group promotes themed picnics at gay section

The first project in a multi-year-long revamp of San Francisco’s beloved Dolores Mission Park will be unveiled to the public later this month.

City officials and civic leaders will be on hand Saturday, March 31 for a ribbon cutting ceremony at the new Helen Diller Playground in the 17 acre green space that borders the Castro and Mission neighborhoods.

The Mercer Fund donated $1.5 million toward the construction costs on behalf of the playground’s namesake. Diller is a noted Bay Area philanthropist whose donations have benefited a wide swath of local organizations and institutions.

Funding from the 2008 Parks Bond and the city’s general fund also paid for the new play area near the 20th Street and Dolores entrance to Dolores Park.

The site now has several unique features, including a central play mound that will have an ADA-accessible suspension bridge, built-in slide and climbing nets; custom-made ship wrecked boats; and a super slide built into the natural hillside behind the playground.

The dedication starts at 2:30 p.m. and will include music and entertainment for children and families.

In related news, a new Facebook page has been launched called The Fruit Shelf.  It refers to the section of the hillside above the new playground where gay men and their cohorts gather on sunny days. It also is known as the park’s “gay beach.”

One of the organizers is Brian McConnell, a gay resident who used to help organize roving bar crawls under the moniker of Guerrilla Queer Bar. The Fruit Shelf group is aimed at throwing themed picnics at Dolores Park and will start up in April.

“Kind of like the theme camps at Burning Man,” explained McConnell, adding as one example “imagine turning the area into a beach, with a lifeguard stand, ocean audio effects, etc.”

There are “lots of possibilities, and I think once it gets rolling, it will take on a life of its own,” he added.

The Facebook page is open to the public and anyone can join.

— Matthew S. Bajko, March 12, 2012 @ 1:32 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Gay San Diego mayoral candidate secures GOP Party’s backing

In another twist for California’s Republican Party, which includes anti-gay language in its platform and is often dominated by social conservatives, a gay man running to be San Diego’s next mayor won the local GOP Party’s backing in the heated race.

San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio (seen in photo) beat out lesbian District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher (R-San Diego) for the endorsement of the Republican Party of San Diego County.

“I appreciate the endorsement of the Republican Party and look forward to earning the support of Democrats and Independent voters who understand the fundamental need for reform at City Hall,” DeMaio told reporters.

Party leaders attributed the decision to DeMaio’s fiscal conservatism and economic policies he has pushed on the City Council.

“The vote was a reflection of growing grassroots enthusiasm for DeMaio, and enables us to advance our message of fiscal reform in a unified manner,” Tony Krvaric, party chairman, was quoted as saying.

Republicans over the weekend also endorsed Brad Torgan, a gay man running for Assembly in West Hollywood. It is believed to be a rare instance of California Republicans publicly supporting gay candidates.

Two other out GOP Assembly candidates, Ralph Denney in San Diego and Jason P. Clark in San Francisco, did not win their party’s backing, according to a list sent out by the state party.

DeMaio has been a controversial figure in San Diego since winning his council seat in 2008. As the city’s first out gay councilman, DeMaio has often butted heads with local LGBT leaders and the gay press.

Should DeMaio or Dumanis win the race, they would be the first out mayor to be elected by voters in a major California city. Toni Atkins, a lesbian who served on the San Diego City Council and is now a Democratic state Assemblywoman, was appointed interim mayor in 2005.


— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 12:35 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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