Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 12 / 22 March 2018

Church’s threat prompts Sisters to skip fundraiser

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have pulled out of a charity event after a Catholic Church official in San Francisco reportedly threatened to cancel the fundraiser if they attended.

Some of the Sisters, who raise thousands of dollars a year for nonprofits, had planned to attend the Evolution of Fashion show tonight (Friday, June 15) at the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption.  The show will benefit the Heaven’s Door Cancer Foundation.

Event co-director Daphne Evans said that the Sisters urged her to make sure their presence at the fashion show wouldn’t cause trouble. The drag nuns have had problems with the Catholic Church before, including when the Castro’s Most Holy Redeemer church booted out their bingo night fundraisers in 2006.

Evans said she called the church’s events director, who told her to ask the Sisters not to come.

“She said, ‘I don’t want them there,'” Evans said. The church staffer also said, “If it comes to where we will have to cancel your event, then we will do that,” according to Evans. She said she told the events director that the Sisters were just trying to help raise money, but it didn’t do any good.

Evans declined to share the name of the person she spoke with, but the church’s website lists Diane Luporini as the event center director. Luporini didn’t respond to an interview request. There was also no response to a message left in the church’s general voicemail.

Sister Roma (seen at left), who’d been scheduled to be a guest commentator at the show, said the church’s stance “Just makes me sick. … They’re just so short sighted. What are they trying to do? Why would they case problems for a fundraiser like that?”

She said the Sisters chose to back out of the event, rather than push their case and bring “negative repercussions.”

“I have nothing but love and respect for the promoters,” Roma said.

The feeling appears to be mutual.

“I love my sisters, they’re my sisters,” Evans said. “I plan on continuing to support them, and I hope they continue to support me.”

Evans said she’s already paid about $1,600 for the church venue, along with another $3,000 to $4,000 for marketing.

She said that if she’d known about the church’s feelings two weeks beforehand, “I would have been booking it out of there.”

Sister Pat N Leather, who’d also planned to attend Friday’s fashion show, said on her Facebook page that the Sisters’ beer bust from 4 to 7 p.m., Sunday, June 17 at the Edge bar, 4149 18th Street, will benefit the cancer foundation.

The Sisters are also still encouraging people to attend Friday’s fashion show, which is 7 to 10:30 p.m. at St. Francis Hall, 1111 Gough Street. Tickets are $45.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, June 15, 2012 @ 1:07 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Teens jailed on Castro Muni station fire charges

Two San Francisco teens have been jailed for allegedly setting fires at the Castro Muni station Wednesday, June 13.

Brian Hinchion

Timothy Abellera

Brian Hinchion and Timothy Abellera, both 19, allegedly broke into the closed station around 3 a.m. Wednesday and set several blazes, according to Officer Carlos Manfredi, a San Francisco Police Department spokesman.

Janitors interrupted them and called police, who responded and caught the men, Manfredi said in an email. Damage from the fires, first reported by Bay City News, is estimated at more than $2,000.

San Francisco police Lieutenant Teresa Gracie said in an interview that there were no indications the incident was a hate crime.

Records indicate that both men were set to be arraigned today (Thursday, June 14) in San Francisco Superior Court on charges of arson of a structure, arson of the property of another, possession of combustible materials or incendiary devices, second-degree burglary, and vandalism more than $400, according to Susan Fahey, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s department.

Hinchion and Abellera are both in custody in San Francisco County jail on $965,000 bail.

A public defender’s office staffer said Thursday that the charges are still pending and neither man has been assigned an attorney.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, June 14, 2012 @ 3:56 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

New HRC head coming to the Castro

Chad Griffin (seen at right), the new president of the Human Rights Campaign, is starting his job this weekend with events in San Francisco and other cities, the national LGBT lobbying group announced today (Friday, June 8).

The tour is intended to raise awareness of issues facing LGBT youth. HRC recently released a study of LGBT youth that showed higher levels of depression and social isolation compared to their straight counterparts.

At 10 a.m., Sunday, June 10, Griffin will pop into the HRC store at 575 Castro Street. There, he will be joined by Cleve Jones, a friend of Milk’s; Dustin Lance Black, who wrote the screenplay for the biopic Milk; and others at the HRC store.

Then, at 10:30, Griffin will be at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, 4235 19th Street.

Milk was the first out gay person elected to public office in California when he won a San Francisco supervisor’s seat in 1977. He was assassinated in 1978. The HRC store, which also houses a call center for the Trevor Project’s youth hotline volunteers, is located in Milk’s former camera shop.

San Francisco blogger Michael Petrelis wrote Thursday, June 7 that someone had told him of Griffin’s local visit, but no details had been announced.

In his post Thursday, Petrelis said that Griffin has “always been friendly and respectful,” but he said he wasn’t aware of Griffin having “open community forums about the Prop 8 lawsuit.” Griffin is a founding board member of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which has been responsible for the federal Perry v. Brown case that’s expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court. Petrelis is a longtime critic of HRC.

In an interview, Petrelis questioned why HRC was giving people such short notice of the Sunday events, but he said he’d attend. He said that he believes the national nonprofit released the details because of his Thursday blog post.

Petrelis said that, among other things, he wants to know if Griffin is “going to hold regular regional meetings open to everyone. The reason why HRC has to do that is because they not only represent their members who can go to their dinners and galas, but they’re seen as the de facto organization for every American, every gay American. … [Griffin] has a responsibility to meet with folks in open forums.”

He also said, “I want to know what his agenda is beyond gays in the military and gay marriage. We have millions of gay single people who don’t want to join the military, and are happy to be single, and their housing, health care, and employment needs need to be addressed.”

HRC spokesman Fred Sainz said Petrelis’s post wasn’t the reason for the organization releasing details on Sunday’s events. He also said the group won’t be holding regional forums.

Sainz said that it’s typical for news releases to be sent out shortly before events. Invitations to the gatherings “went out a long, long time ago,” he said.

The event at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy “is in essence a public forum,” Sainz said. He added that Griffin wanted to come to San Francisco immediately “because that’s how important Harvey Milk’s legacy is to him.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, June 8, 2012 @ 5:19 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Mary Jung likely next SF Dem Party chair

Local community organizer and longtime Democratic official Mary Jung is expected to become the next chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party.

Multiple sources have told the Bay Area Reporter since Tuesday’s election that Jung is the frontrunner to succeed outgoing party chair Aaron Peskin. In a brief interview Thursday, June 7 Jung told the B.A.R. that she is actively pursuing the position.

It is a 180 from what she had said in her questionnaire when asked about the open chair position by the B.A.R., which endorsed Jung in the race for 10 seats on the Democratic County Central Committee allocated to residents in the city’s westside Assembly District 19.

Currently serving as the party’s recording secretary, Jung had replied to the paper’s question that she wouldn’t have the time to commit to being chair.

But after continued urging from her fellow DCCC members, Jung said she had a change of heart and would now like to be chair.

“I am seriously exploring the possibility,” said Jung, who has served on the party committee since 2000 and ran for chair once before in 2006. “I was extremely flattered people were asking me to do it. At the time I never really considered it a possibility.”

With the distraction of the campaign out of the way, Jung can now focus on lining up the votes she will need to be elected chair when the new DCCC members are installed sometime in July, likely at a special meeting Wednesday, July 18.

Other names that have been floated as potential chair candidates are gay former Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who won a DCCC seat this week, and re-elected DCCC members Matt Dorsey, Rafael Mandelman and Alix Rosenthal.

Arlo Hale Smith, a gay man who won re-election to the DCCC Tuesday from AD19, believes Jung has the votes to become chair.

“Mary has a long record of working with everyone and all the factions on the committee,” he told the B.A.R.

He believes Jung, who is straight, will be a consensus builder such as past gay and lesbian chairs like Scott Wiener (now a supervisor), former state lawmaker Carole Migden, and former supervisor Leslie Katz (now a port commissioner).

“She will be fair,” said Smith.

Jung said she does not want the DCCC to act like a “shadow Board of Supervisors,” where it enters local policy debates, and instead believes it should focus on electing Democrats and registering voters.  With six sitting supervisors winning seats on the DCCC, however, avoiding policy fights could prove difficult for the next chair.

“My strong suit, and the reason why people are encouraging me to run for DCCC chair, is I set out to build the Democratic Party,” said Jung. “The DCCC is meant to help Democrats win and pass ballot measures on issues we think are important.”


— Matthew S. Bajko, June 7, 2012 @ 4:26 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Ammiano spokesman joins SF D5 supe race

Quintin Mecke, formerly communications director for gay state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-SF), today officially entered the race for the District 5 seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Mecke, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2007, pulled papers this morning (Thursday, June 7) to seek the supervisor district that covers the Haight, Western Addition and Japantown.

“The City is at an economic crossroads. As a 15 year resident of District 5, I cannot sit idly by while our City’s policies force out our residents and small businesses, recklessly pursuing profits for big business at whatever cost,” stated Mecke in a release announcing his candidacy.

He named the city’s rising rents and expense of owning a small business in San Francisco as key issues he wants to address at City Hall.

“I have brought principled independence to every issue I’ve worked on and that’s what I’ll continue to bring to City Hall,” stated Mecke, who joined Ammiano’s staff four years ago. “As supervisor, I will do everything in my power to work to make San Francisco a livable place for all people, including students, renters, families, seniors, artists, immigrants, and the rest of the 99%.”

His name had been rumored as a possible candidate since the fall, and the speculation increased last week when he informed the media he was stepping down as Ammiano’s main press point person.

He joins an already long list of people seeking the largely progressive district. The incumbent, bisexual Supervisor Christina Olague, already declared her intention to seek election this fall for a full term. Mayor Ed Lee appointed her to fill the vacancy created when Ross Mirkarimi resigned the post to become sheriff only to be later suspended by the mayor due to domestic violence charges.

In late May Julian Davis, president of the Booker T. Washington Community Service Center, also filed to seek the seat. A longtime progressive organizer and backer of public power, Davis has made affordable housing one of the key issues he plans to address in the race.

“I’m running for supervisor to keep this city a vibrant home for the everyday people that make San Francisco real. San Francisco should always be a home for all walks of life – a place for the artists and innovators, students and seniors, immigrants and working people who make up the unique texture of our city,” wrote Davis in an email to supporters.

Also throwing their hats into the ring are London Breed, executive director of the African American Art and Culture Complex; City College commissioner John Rizzo; Andrew Resignato, director of the San Francisco Immunization Coalition; and Thea Selby, founding member and current president of the Lower Haight Merchant and Neighbor Association.


— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 1:59 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Sisters announce Pink Saturday food trucks

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have announced some of  the food trucks that will be at Pink Saturday, June 23.

In order to diversify the event and help people soak up the liquor they’re not supposed to be drinking at the annual pre-LGBT Pride festival this year, the main stage will be replaced by 10 mobile eateries.

They will include 3 Sum Eats, Kasa, Southern Sandwich, Sam’s Chowdermobile, and Onigilly. Off the Grid will coordinate the trucks at the intersection of Market and Castro streets.

In a news release today (Wednesday, June 6), Sister Selma Soul, Pink Saturday coordinator, explained that instead of a large main stage, the charitable drag nuns group would spread a mix of DJ and sound stages throughout the event.

“Most importantly,” Sister Selma stated, “Pink Saturday is San Francisco’s largest outdoor fundraiser for grassroots Bay-Area LGBTQI organizations for youth, elders, civil rights, the arts and community health services.”

Donations at the event support nonprofits including AIDS Emergency Fund, AIDS Housing Alliance/San Francisco, Healing Waters, St. James Infirmary, Tenderloin Tessie Holiday Dinners, and Variety Children’s Charity of Northern California.

Donations of at least $5 will be requested at the entry gates.

The festival, which this year will run from 5 to 11 p.m., has brought thousands of people to the streets of the Castro district for years. Recently, however, the event has been marred by violence. Stephen Powell, 19, was shot to death around the time the 2010 Pink Saturday ended. No one’s been arrested in his killing.

Alcohol is no longer allowed inside the event, although the neighborhood’s bars will still be serving customers. Attendees and their bags will be checked at the gates for alcohol and “dangerous materials,” the Sisters said.

Officers from the San Francisco Police Department’s Mission Station and others will be on hand to assist with security.

Those interested in helping the Sisters at the gates and earning money for their nonprofits may contact the group at

— Seth Hemmelgarn, June 6, 2012 @ 5:04 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Anti-rainbow flag graffiti spotted on Market Street

Someone doesn’t like the rainbow flags gracing San Francisco’s Market Street in honor of LGBT Pride month.

Bay Area Reporter reader Jim Phillips said in an email that “Take your flags off our street” was written in blue chalk in the northeast corner of Market and Montgomery streets. Phillips said he saw the writing (seen at right) at 6:30 p.m., Monday, June 4. By late Tuesday afternoon, June 5, the writing was gone, he said.

Silvia Woo, a police service aide with the San Francisco Police Department, said that the graffiti hadn’t been reported to police, but since the rainbow banners are the only flags at that location, “the phrase is targeted toward gay people, so it would be considered a hate crime.”

Brendan Behan, executive director of the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee, the group that pays for the flags, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 4:12 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Police seek Castro bank robber

San Francisco police are seeking a man who recently wore a cowboy hat, a wig, and a fake moustache to rob the Wells Fargo bank in the Castro district.

According to a police summary, the man entered the bank, located at 567 Castro Street, at 4:15 p.m., Friday, June 1, handed a note to the teller, took the money, and fled on foot. Police indicated no weapon was involved. No arrests have been reported.

Officer Albie Esparza, a spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department, said the suspect was wearing a black cowboy hat and black shoes, sunglasses, a black jacket and black pants with pinstripes, a black wig, and a fake moustache. He described the robber as a white man, 35 to 50, 5 feet 11 inches, weighing 200 pounds.

Esparza wouldn’t disclose what the note said or how much money was taken.

Armando Rosales, branch manager of the Wells Fargo, said the person robbed was actually the bank’s service manager, who’s “doing fine.” He said he didn’t have permission to disclose how much money was taken, and he said he hadn’t seen the suspect’s note.

Police usually don’t identify businesses targeted in crimes and listed the bank’s location only as the 500 block of Castro Street.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 1:13 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Breaking: 9th Circuit refuses further review of Prop 8

The full 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused Tuesday (June 5) to review a panel’s decision that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

The refusal means almost certainly that proponents of California’s ban on same-sex marriage will soon file an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

With last week’s 1st Circuit decision striking a core section of the Defense of Marriage Act also heading to the nation’s highest court, it is now likely the Supreme Court will have two major same-sex marriage cases on its docket in October. The 9th Circuit case, if accepted, would ask whether states can ban same-sex couples from obtaining a marriage license; the 1st Circuit case, if accepted, would ask whether the federal government can refuse to recognize marriages licensed by states to same-sex couples.

The three-paragraph order stated that the request for a full court review “failed to receive a majority of the votes” of active judges. It also noted that the mandate would be stayed for 90 days to enable proponents of Prop 8 to file an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Accompanying the order was a dissent from three circuit court judges. It said the refusal for appeal “has silenced” a “respectful conversation” about the same-sex marriage issue. It called the 2-1 panel decision striking Prop 8 a “gross misapplication” of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Romer v. Evans. In that case, the Supreme Court said states could not pass laws that excluded gays from protection just because gays are an unpopular group.

The panel decision, said the dissenters, “have now declared that animus must have been the only conceivable motivation for a sovereign state to have remained committed to a definition of marriage that has existed for millennia.”

Proponents of Prop 8 filed the 9th Circuit full court appeal, asking it to overturn a decision by a three-judge panel of the circuit in February. That panel decision found that California’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the federal constitution by stripping from same-sex couples a right they had (to marry) prior to passage of Prop 8. In order for a limited en banc (full) panel of 11 judges to have heard the appeal, at least 14 of the circuit’s 26 active judges would have had to say another review is warranted.

Attorneys David Boies and Theodore Olson (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

The case is Perry v. Brown, led by famed conservative attorney Theodore Olson and preeminent liberal attorney David Boies and organized and funded by the American Foundation for Equal Rights.
In that case, two same-sex couples sued after being denied marriage licenses once the voter-approved constitutional ban on same-sex marriage went into effect.

U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker ruled, in August 2010, that banning same-sex couples from obtaining marriage licenses violates the federal Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process. He agreed to delay enforcement of the decision, pending an appeal by Yes on 8 attorneys to the 9th Circuit.

In February, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit, in a 2-1 vote, upheld Walker’s decision. But in doing so, the panel explained that Prop 8 improperly removed from a group of citizens (gays) a right they already enjoyed (marriage). The California Supreme Court had ruled, in May 2008, that the state constitution required that same-sex couples be able to obtain marriage licenses the same as straight couples. But in November of that year, voters approved Prop 8, amending the state constitution to explicitly ban the recognition of same-sex marriage. Same-sex couples who had been allowed to wed between June and Election Day 2008 remain legally married in California, but other same-sex couples could no longer marry.

While attorneys and activists uniformly called the February 7 panel decision a major victory, the decision did stop short of saying that same-sex partners, like straight partners, have a “fundamental right to marry.” Instead, it said Prop 8 deprived same-sex partners only of the “right to use the designation of ‘marriage.'” If it had ruled same-sex couples had a fundamental right to marry, said Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund’s legal director Jon Davidson, “the marriage laws of 44 states would have been cast into doubt …” And by rendering such a relatively narrow ruling, said Davidson and others, the panel reduced the likelihood the U.S. Supreme Court would take the case.

“The fundamental right to marry, as protected by the U.S. Constitution,” said Williams Institute legal scholar Jenny Pizer, “has to have the same contours throughout the country. So a decision concluding that same-sex couples have the same fundamental right as different-sex couples would call into question all the marriage restrictions states currently impose.”

– Reported by Lisa Keen

— Cynthia Laird, June 5, 2012 @ 10:22 am PST
Filed under: News

SJ Pride sees resignations, money problems

The group behind the San Jose LGBT Pride celebration appears to be in serious trouble as the event approaches.

In the last week, two members of Gay Pride Celebration Committee of San Jose’s board have resigned, expressing grave concerns about the group’s leadership, especially board President Nathan Svoboda.

Several others have recently joined the board, but the departures come just over two months before the annual celebration in the South Bay city of almost 1 million people. The festival is planned for August 18-19.

The organization, which is less than half way to its fundraising goal, has also announced that there will be no parade again this year.

Just over one month ago, others – including recently-hired Festival Director Dane Dugan – also quit the organization. A longtime Pride supporter says that Svoboda should be the next to resign.

Svoboda, who didn’t respond to interview requests, said in a recent email to other organizers that last week’s resignations of board members Ray Mueller and Natalie Romano’s were “upsetting,” but he wished them well.

Mueller, 46, joined the board in February 2011 and was the group’s chief fundraiser. He quit Wednesday, May 30.

“I no longer felt that my experience was a value added to this organization,” Mueller said in an interview. Among his concerns were cutting the parade, which he said organizers had used to try to entice donors.

“It didn’t seem to phase anyone we’ve been selling a particular product,” and then changed it on short notice, Mueller said.

He said he was also “highly concerned” about the recent decision to bring back former Festival Director Gary Walker, who’d produced the event for years. Walker didn’t respond to an interview request.

Mueller said that bringing back Walker alone would cost Pride $30,000. That figure, much higher than the projected cost associated with ex-Festival Director Dugan, who quit in April, includes what Walker and his staff will be paid, and lodging expenses.

He said that Walker lives in Salt Lake City and “requires hotel rooms in the city for two weeks in order to come in and do the event.”

Financial concerns

Mueller, who said he had been “the only person doing actual fundraising,” said that at the emergency meeting the board held Thursday, May 24, the budget they approved already included a shortfall of $8,000. Earlier this year, the Pride board had planned on a budget of almost $200,000.

In a news release today (Monday, June 4), Svoboda said the group’s fundraising goal is $66,300. So far, they’ve raised $28,400, he said.

In an email, Mueller said the board had raised $15,000 since December. He said that in the last few months he’d raised $20,000 in sponsorship pledges, but that was based on having a one-day festival and parade. He said $2,500 of that had come in.

A San Jose LGBT Pride celebrant in 2008

Svoboda stated that the cost of the parade is estimated to be more than $15,000, and a $7,500 city grant can’t be approved until after July. There has not been a Pride parade in San Jose in over two years. The decision to cut the parade was made at the May 24 meeting, Mueller said.

An official with the San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs previously indicated cutting the parade could affect the city’s grant to Pride. No one from the city agency responded to a call from the Bay Area Reporter last week.

The Pride board had also decided at one point to make this year’s festival a one-day event, but that’s changed, too. Mueller said at the May 24 meeting, when the board voted to have a two-day event, Svoboda distributed printed materials that he’d ordered two weeks prior to the meeting that already listed the festival as two days.

Mueller voted to keep the parade. He struggled to remember how he voted on extending the festival but eventually said he voted no.

He said “a great number” of people had wanted the parade to return this year. “The party should be the incidental, not the parade,” Mueller said.

Mueller wouldn’t single out Svoboda for blame but faulted the organization’s leadership in general for the problems.

Another resignation

Natalie Romano, 24, also quit the Pride board last Wednesday.

In her resignation letter, which she provided to the B.A.R., Romano said, “Anyone who has been close to SJP in the last decade can see that it’s a money pit. … The important contemporary issues are transgender recognition, bullying, and marriage equality, none of which SJP plays an active role in. We take thousands of dollars from our community, constantly hit up the very people we are trying to help, and in return we give them a bunch of parties  … . If we do anything positive for the community, we have overshadowed it by being such a burden on San Jose.”

In an interview, Romano, who’d also joined in February 2011, said she wouldn’t be surprised if Svoboda quit, but said, “I think it’s past the point where I would call for him to resign.”

“I think he needs to own what he’s created, because he’s had so much of a say in this,” she said. She said it was Svoboda’s idea to make the event two days again and bring back Walker, even though the organization can’t afford either.

Romano said she’s had problems with Svoboda ever since he became board president in July 2011. She said she sent Svoboda, whom she called “evasive,” an email “asking him to take some constructive criticism,” but he never responded.

Romano said “the last straw” for her was the vote on making Pride a two-day festival. She said the board had already voted twice to make it a one-day event, and each time Svoboda came back asking for it to be two days.

“He feels like he wants to be the San Jose Pride board himself,” Romano said. She added, “He’ll make all the decisions and then not talk to anyone about them. … We really only move forward on what Nathan wants to move forward on.”

Longtime Pride supporter: Svoboda ‘backboneless’

Luis Sarmento, who owns the San Jose gay bar Renegades and is a longtime supporter of Pride, said in response to emailed questions that Svoboda should resign.

Over the past 24 years, Sarmento’s had many roles with San Jose Pride, including board fundraising chair and entertainment chair.

He said Svoboda has an “unstable backboneless style of leadership, and “He will go down in San Jose Pride history as the worst person to have ever filled that position.”

At a Pride meeting held the day the B.A.R. ran a story on the organization’s leadership and financial troubles, Romano said that more people attended than usual. She described Svoboda as dismissive of people’s concerns.

Sarmento called the gathering an “Everything’s fine, move along, nothing to see here”-type meeting and said that Svoboda didn’t address concerns directly or acknowledge problems and responded to questions with “a repetitive ‘Uh huh, next person please’.”

Sarmento also called board Vice President Roman Fernando’s recent behavior “unprofessional.”

As last year’s entertainment partner, Sarmento secured acts including drag star Lady Bunny for Pride at a “big” discounted rate, he said. Pride couldn’t even afford a deposit on a main stage headliner, Sarmento said.

He said that this year, he tried to work with Fernando to again help Pride find entertainment, but the negotiations “were doomed right from the start.”

Fernando was “useless,” and Fernando’s friend AJ Solis, who recently joined Pride’s board, went on to “highjack the process” and was verbally abusive, Sarmento said. Fernando and Solis also lied about a contract and Svoboda didn’t show up to a meeting that had been planned, Sarmento said.

Solis and Fernando, who appears to be participating in this year’s AIDS LifeCycyle bike ride, which is currently underway, didn’t respond to interview requests through Facebook.

Sarmento said of the organization, “They need to admit there are problems, find real solutions, cleans itself of the cancerous lesions and stop blaming the community for its organizational blindness, ego’s etc. They also need to seriously ask themselves why attendance has been dropping every year, and why relationships with various sponsors, participants and donors have been damaged over the last few years … .”

Chances for survival

Asked about the chances of San Jose Pride not happening this year, Mueller, Romano, and Sarmento all pointed to the involvement of Walker, the festival director, as key.

Mueller said Walker “will have an event there, but “I don’t know what will happen as far as if the community will respond.”

Romano said she thinks Pride will still happen because Svoboda “will just throw nonexistent money” at it and Walker “knows how to make it happen.”

Sarmento appeared to agree.

“I’m confident something will happen because out of desperation they contracted back with Gary Walker … to make something happen,” he said.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, June 4, 2012 @ 12:03 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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