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

HIV/AIDS funding news comes in time for Bloom gala

San Francisco’s Asian and Pacific Islander Wellness Center will get to mark some good news tonight (Thursday, May 17) at their Bloom fundraiser.

Mayor Ed Lee has announced he’s restoring more than $6 million in HIV/AIDS funding that the federal government is cutting. The reductions could have meant API Wellness Center and other providers slashing hundreds of thousands of dollars from their budgets.

Lance Toma (seen at left, in pink jacket), executive director of APIWC, which provides HIV testing and other services, said, “I am immensely full of gratitude to the mayor and to our LGBT supervisors” for the restoration. Out Supervisors David Campos, Christina Olague, and Scott Wiener were among those pushing for funds to be restored.

Toma said today’s news surprised him, but “At the same time, I’m just so proud of the mayor’s commitment to our city’s HIV services.”

In a statement, Lee, who will be at Bloom, said, “San Francisco will continue to maintain investments in HIV/AIDS care, treatment and prevention, which reflect our values to care for our most vulnerable populations and prevent the spread of infection. Despite continued budget challenges, we remain committed to funding critical care services for those living with HIV/AIDS in San Francisco. Our city will continue to be a model for the rest of the nation, and we will continue to work collaboratively with our local community partners to build greater efficiencies in providing services to protect against future destabilizing federal cuts.”

In the coming year, San Francisco is expecting a cut of $4.3 million from Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Modernization Act funds and a drop in $2.3 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Despite the immediate relief for local HIV/AIDS service providers, similar cuts are expected for fiscal year 2013-14. Lee announced Thursday that he’s committed to covering half that shortfall but, as he noted in his statement, the city has other troubles to consider. A citywide gap of about $150 million is projected for the 2012-13 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Toma, who met with Lee and other city officials and providers Thursday, acknowledged the federal HIV/AIDS cuts that will be coming in another year.

“As an HIV provider community, we are committed to working with the mayor’s office and with the Department of Public Health to plan and strategize and look ahead to not only next year, but future years, so that we can make sure to preserve and maintain as many of the HIV services as possible,” Toma said.

He added, “I’m relieved that for this coming year we know that our HIV client services will continue uninterrupted, and we will continue to be creative and innovative, and figure out how we continue beyond next year.”

It’s “way too soon” to say whether his agency would need to make cuts in light of the remaining challenges, he said.

The Bloom gala is set for 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the San Francisco Design Center Galleria, 101 Henry Adams Street, San Francisco. Individual tickets are $100 and will be available at the door. For more information, visit

— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 17, 2012 @ 3:36 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

AIDS candlelight memorial returns May 20

Sunday, May 20th marks the 29th anniversary of the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial. Events are planned in more than 115 countries to raise awareness about the ongoing epidemic and to honor those who have been lost to the deadly disease.

It is estimated that 33 million people are living with HIV today. The annual candlelight memorial, whose poster for 2012 is at left, is aimed at building global solidarity, breaking down barriers of stigma and discrimination, and giving hope to new generations.

In San Francisco the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence organized the very first candlelight march back in 1983. That year’s theme was “Fighting for our Lives,” and one of the speakers Sister Florence Nightmare, whose real name was Bobbi Campbell.

A health care professional who was HIV positive, Campbell later appeared on the cover of Newsweek for an article about AIDS’ impact on gay men. It earned Campbell the moniker of “AIDS poster boy.”

The cover story is credited as being “the first time that the topics were handled in a fairly unbiased manner and that the entire nation was able to come face-to-face with AIDS,” according to the Facebook page for this year’s San Francisco observance.

It is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Sunday at Harvey Milk Plaza in the Castro. One of the invited speakers is Mike Shriver, a board member of the National AIDS Memorial Grove who served as an AIDS czar to former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown.


— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 12:51 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Officials investigate death of transgender SF woman

Marin County officials are investigating the death of a transgender San Francisco woman whose body was recently found in the San Francisco Bay.


The body of Marilyn Outlaw, 53, (seen at left)  was recovered by the U.S. Coast Guard from the bay between Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge on April 14, Keith Boyd, assistant chief deputy coroner for Marin County, said in an interview today (Wednesday, May 16). Someone on a private sailboat had reported seeing her body floating in the water, Boyd said.

“There is no reason to suspect foul play at this time,” he said, but the cause of death is under investigation. Boyd said he couldn’t share information from the autopsy, and he said the coroner’s staff are awaiting the toxicology report.

Boyd said, “If there’s any reason to think criminal conduct” was involved “based on our initial investigation and our preliminary autopsy findings,” the appropriate agency would be contacted.

Citing “legitimate” state identification, Boyd said that Marilyn Outlaw was her legal name.

The Facebook page for San Francisco’s Transgender Gender Variant Intersex Justice Project includes information about Outlaw’s May 9 homegoing  at City of Refuge United Church of Christ. Storm Miguel Florez, the justice project’s administrative coordinator, referred questions about Outlaw to BobbieJean Baker.

Baker, a minister at City of Refuge who’d known Outlaw since 2010, said that Outlaw “always had a cheerful spirit, because she was from the South. She always had some kind of gentle spirit around her.”

She said that Outlaw had lived at A Woman’s Place shelter before moving into the Hotel Hartland on Geary Street. The website for the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, which runs the Hartland, describes the hotel as “a critical resource to serve the homeless population.”

A program manager at A Woman’s Place didn’t respond to an interview request late Wednesday afternoon. A woman who answered the phone at the Hartland declined to talk about Outlaw and referred questions to a manager, who wasn’t available.

Baker, who said Outlaw identified as transgender, said Outlaw joined City of Refuge early last year and was a member of the Transcendence Gospel Choir for about two and a half months. However, she said Outlaw came to at least two choir events “very intoxicated,” and “It just didn’t work out.”

The last time Baker saw Outlaw was in February, she said.

“She seemed to be full of joy,” Baker said. “She had her bottle, she had a brand now wig on, and a flowing Diana Ross gown.” Baker, who repeatedly referred to Outlaw as “Miss Marilyn,” said Outlaw “loved” the types of dresses favored by the famous singer.

Baker said Outlaw liked to drink Taaka vodka and “always kept her bottle with her in her purse or in her hand.” However, she said, the last time she saw Outlaw, “I don’t think she was drunk. … Never have I encountered her just drunk.”

Baker said Outlaw was originally from St. Louis. Boyd said Outlaw’s next of kin have been contacted, but he wouldn’t say exactly where they’re from.

“They’re not local,” he said.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 16, 2012 @ 7:28 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Arrest made in Walgreens robbery

San Francisco police have arrested a suspect in the recent robbery of the Walgreens at 498 Castro Street.

San Francisco Police Sergeant Chuck Limbert, the LGBT liaison for the San Francisco Police Department’s Mission Station, confirmed today (Friday, May 11) that an arrest had been made, but he said he couldn’t share the suspect’s name due to another investigation.

In the Walgreens incident, at around 2:45 p.m., Monday, May 7, a man walked into the shop at 18th and Castro streets and handed a worker a note that said he had a gun and he wanted medication, according to police. Through another note, the suspect threatened to shoot the victim, who gave the suspect the medication. The suspect fled the store on foot, and the employee wasn’t injured.

San Francisco Police Sergeant Daryl Fong declined to say earlier this week what type of medication was involved.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 11, 2012 @ 6:50 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

SF Dems working to support transgender woman convicted in Minnesota killing

Some members of San Francisco’s Democratic Party are preparing a resolution in support of Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald, 23, a Minneapolis transgender woman imprisoned for what defenders call an act of self-defense.

The local Democratic County Central Committee is exploring a statement of support for McDonald, or a call for the Department of Justice to investigate the case, according to DCCC member Gabriel Haaland. The party plans to vote on the proposal May 23.

According to the resolution draft, McDonald, who’s black, “was targeted in a vicious racist and transphobic attack” in Minneapolis in 2011. In the incident, she killed Dean Schmitz with a pair of scissors.

McDonald was charged with second-degree murder, and had faced at least 10 years in prison, but accepted a plea deal Wednesday, May 2 for a second-degree manslaughter charge and an expected maximum sentence of 41-months. Her sentencing hearing is set for June 4.

According to Hennepin County, Minnesota Attorney Michael Freeman’s office, the incident started when McDonald was walking with friends one night and a group outside a Minneapolis bar “began shouting racial and sexual insults.”

McDonald and her friends confronted Schmitz and the others “and a woman smashed a glass into McDonald’s face, cutting her,” prosecutors said in a news release.

Citing a witness, officials say Schmitz pulled McDonald “away from the resulting melee” and said, “You stabbed me.” McDonald said that she had, walked away, and threw away the scissors she’d been carrying, prosecutors stated.

In last week’s hearing before Hennepin County District Court Judge Daniel Moreno, McDonald gave up her right to use a defense that she stabbed Schmitz accidentally or in self-defense. She also acknowledged that Schmitz hadn’t had a weapon, “and McDonald admitted she handled the scissors in an unreasonable way,” officials with Freeman’s office stated.

McDonald told Moreno that the scissors ended up in Schmitz’s chest because he’d pulled her toward him. Prosecutors also said that McDonald dropped previous claims that someone else had stabbed Schmitz.

In its statement, Freeman’s office noted that it’s “received some criticism from the LGBTQ community regarding this case.”

Officials stated, “The role of prosecutors is to examine the facts provided by police investigators and determine if there is sufficient admissible evidence to bring a charge. Gender, race, sexual orientation and class are not part of the decision-making process. The charges filed took into account the evidence in this case; this outcome is an example of the criminal justice responding proportionately to a tragic situation. The plea of second-degree manslaughter is a just resolution.”

McDonald’s local supporters say that the judge in McDonald’s jury trial ruled against admitting evidence that included her attacker’s swastika tattoo and a “lengthy” record of convictions for assault and other crimes.

Groups including the San Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Transgender Law Center expressed concerns that McDonald “could be facing discriminatory charges based on her transgender identity,” but prosecutors ignored those ideas, according to the Democrats’ resolution draft.

Haaland, who’s transgender, circulated the proposal-in-progress this week. In an interview today (Friday, May 11), he said that he and other local supporters originally planned to call for McDonald’s pardon, but someone suggested to him that for McDonald to get a pardon, she’d have to meet certain conditions, and that “would be really awful for her to have to go through.” He didn’t say specifically what the criteria would be, but he said he’s never talked to McDonald, and “without more direct communication” with her, local activists “don’t feel like doing a resolution urging a pardon makes sense.”

Asked about what impact the resolution might have, Haaland said that organizations around the world are expressing concerns about the case.

“If you’re a judge you’re going to pay attention” to that when it comes to sentencing, said Haaland.

Chuck Laszewski, a spokesman for Freeman, said the San Francisco Democrats’ resolution probably wouldn’t make any difference in the sentencing, “since it’s a plea, and the outlines of the plea are pretty firm.”

Hersch Izek, the attorney representing McDonald, didn’t respond to an interview request Friday.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 6:18 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Reward offered in Martell slaying

A reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for information leading to an arrest or conviction in the recent killing of a transgender woman in Oakland.

Photo by Tiffany Woods

Brandy Martell (seen at left), 37, of Hayward, was shot at about 5 a.m., Sunday, April 29 as she and some friends sat in her car near 13th and Franklin streets in downtown Oakland. She died at the scene.

Felisha Johnson, who was with Martell when she was shot, said that the gunman and a friend had made sexual advances toward the women until they figured out they were transgender. Johnson, who wasn’t injured in the incident, said the shooter had demanded money from her before opened fire and hit Martell.

Johnson and another friend who was in Martell’s car have indicated that several other people were near Martell’s car when she was killed. However, Oakland Police Department spokeswoman Lea Rubio said today (Friday, May 11) that she didn’t know of any other witnesses who’ve come forward.

Law enforcement officials and Martell’s mother have said her legal name was Milton Massey Jr., though California Department of Motor Vehicle records indicate she’d changed her name to Martell.

Anyone with information in the case is asked to contact the Oakland police patrol desk at (510) 238-3455. The reward is being offered through Crimestoppers.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 2:54 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Rally for Brandy Martell Sunday

Friends of Oakland murder victim Brandy Martell will gather for a rally in downtown Oakland on Sunday, May 13.

Martell, a transgender woman, was shot as she sat in her car with friends at 13th and Franklin streets in Oakland on April 29. As of this week, Oakland police continue to investigate the case but no arrests have been made.

Starr Britt held an image of Brandy Martell at a memorial Wednesday in downtown Oakland. (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

Tiffany Woods, program coordinator of the TransVision program at Tri-City Health Center in Fremont, said the rally will be held in the amphitheater at Frank Ogawa Plaza, near the intersection of 14th Street and Broadway, from 6 to 8 p.m. Woods will be among the speakers at Sunday’s rally.

Woods knew Martell, 37, who had done some volunteer peer education work for TransVision. She also helped at the Transgender Day of Remembrance event in Oakland last November.

Family and friends mourned Martell at two memorial services earlier this week.

Friends who were with Martell in the early morning hours of April 29 have said that they were approached by two men, who talked with them and then left. Apparently one of the men later returned, at around 5 a.m., and shot Martell, the friends said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Oakland police homicide unit at (510) 238-3821 or the dispatch office, (510) 777-3333.

— Cynthia Laird, @ 10:51 am PST
Filed under: News

Milk club to honor Jose Sarria at May 21 event

The Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club will award Jose Sarria with its Harry Britt Lifetime Achievement Award at its annual dinner fundraiser, set to take place this year Monday, May 21.

Sarria, 90, was the first out gay man to run for public office in California when he sought a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1961. In 2006 city leaders honored Sarria, who now lives in Palm Springs, by renaming a portion of 16th Street in front of the Castro’s public library as José Sarria Court.

He founded the Imperial Court System in 1964 when he took on the title of Empress Jose I. He later assumed the title of the Widow Norton after the 19th century San Francisco eccentric Joshua Norton, who proclaimed himself “Emperor of North America and Protector of Mexico” and printed his own money.

Thereafter each year Sarria would lead a processional to Norton’s grave in Colma, in tribute to him as well as those Imperial Court members who have died of AIDS.

A San Francisco native, Sarria ruled over the Black Cat Cafe in North Beach in the 1950s, performing drag shows and was known as the “Nightingale of Montgomery Street.” Early on he petitioned police not to raid gay bars and, in defiance of the laws of the day, wore a button stating “I am a boy” to avoid being arrested for performing in drag.

Sarria in recent years has struggled with health issues and is said to be seriously ill. But he is expected to make the trip north in order to attend the Milk club awards dinner.

The event takes place from 7 to 10 p.m. at dance club Beatbox, 314 11th Street in San Francisco’s South of Market district. Tickets cost $40 and can be bought online.


— Matthew S. Bajko, May 10, 2012 @ 2:31 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Folsom Street unveils 2012 poster

San Francisco’s Folsom Street Events  has released the poster for this year’s street fair (seen at right).

Demetri Moshoyannis, Folsom Street’s executive director, said in a statement Wednesday, May 9, “For this year’s poster, we want to pose the question: What makes someone a ‘leather’ person or a fetish enthusiast? Without the aid of our clothing, it can be impossible to tell who is into what kind of scene. We want to showcase the community from a truly stark, bare perspective. This is who we are – exposed. At the same time, we are asking that age-old question: What are you going to wear?”

Each year, the Folsom Street Fair raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for local charities. This year’s Folsom Street Fair is Sunday, September 23. The Folsom Street nonprofit also produces other events geared toward the leather and fetish communities, including Bay of Pigs and Up Your Alley.

Pony Gold, an in-house photographer at, shot the photo for the poster and the site also volunteered their space in The Armory for the shoot, according to Folsom Street. All 23 models donated their time. An uncensored version of the poster is expected to be available for sale.

The models are Tom Whitler, Steve Satyricon, Roche, Lance Holman, Jim Knight, Race Bannon, Mike Pierce, Suzan Revah, Graig Cooper; Sister Phyliss Withe-Litaday, Cyd Nova, Suppositori Spelling, Tara Wrist, Jorge Vieto, Alotta Boutte; Steven Foreman, Josh West, Eden Alexander, boy erik and Daddy Robert, Johnathan Lay, Dominic Sol, and Morgan Black. Mitchell Koonce served as creative director.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 12:57 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Romney rushes to contain damaging story of anti-gay ‘prank’

Just one day after President Barack Obama’s big announcement that he supports the legal right of gay couples to marry, Republican nominee-apparent Mitt Romney is scrambling to contain an unexpected revelation.

A close friend of Romney’s, when the two were attending a private boarding school outside Detroit during their high school years, says Romney forcibly held down and cut the hair of a fellow student despite the student’s screams for help.

Mitt Romney

The Romney friend, Matthew Friedemann, told the Washington Post, in a story published May 10, that the victim of the attack had tears in his eyes and was screaming for help when he, Romney, and several other students tackled the non-conforming student whom many presumed to be gay.

The Post said four of the other students who participated in the attack confirmed it. One recalled it as “vicious.” Friedemann said Romney organized and led the attack.

Asked about the Post story, Romney told Fox News Radio Thursday that he didn’t recall the incident but added, “I certainly don’t believe that I … thought the fellow was homosexual.”

Although he didn’t remember the incident, he characterized the attack as a prank, acknowledged that it might have gone “too far,” but said he considers himself to be “a very different person” now.

The victim of the 1965 attack, according to the Post, was John Lauber, who died in 2004. In high school, Lauber had grown his hair long, bleached it, and wore it in a style that it draped over one eye. That, according to Friedemann, led many students to presume Lauber was gay.

Friedemann said Romney saw Lauber’s hairstyle and said, “He can’t look like that. That’s wrong!” A few days later, said Friedemann, he found Romney leading a group of students into a room where Lauber was. Friedemann said Romney and the group grabbed Lauber, pinned him to the floor, and enabled Romney to cut his hair.

The Post got confirmation of the attack from five of the students who participated in it.

Alex Shriver, a Romney campaign spokesman, on MSNBC Thursday afternoon, blew off a question about the incident, calling it a “temporary media distraction, with sort of questionable timing.”

But the Post found another fellow student of Romney’s, Gary Hummel, who was gay at the time and recalled Romney mocking him with “Atta girl!” whenever we spoke out in class.

– Lisa Keen

— Cynthia Laird, @ 11:27 am PST
Filed under: News,Politics

« Previous PageNext Page »

Follow The Bay Area Reporter
Newsletter logo
twitter logo
facebook logo