Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

Man detained after Castro gas station incident

A Bay Area man is under observation today (Friday, December 28) after he allegedly barricaded himself inside a Castro area Chevron station Thursday, December 27.

According to Officer Carlos Manfredi, a spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department, the incident started at about 10:39 a.m. Thursday.

The suspect was “acting erratically” and “in a threatening manner,” Manfredi said, prompting a female clerk to lock the door of the gas station, which is near Castro and Market streets. An SFPD summary lists the man’s age as 21 and the clerk’s age as 29, but Manfredi said the suspect is in his 30s.

Manfredi said the man threw his weight into the glass door, which shattered, and the clerk locked herself in the bathroom. When officers arrived, the man locked himself in the shop’s office, he said.

“At some point, the suspect held a small knife up to his wrist,” Manfredi said.

The man opened the door to the office around 12 p.m. Police took him into custody and placed him in mental health detention, he said.

“He was placed under evaluation because he was a danger to himself,” Manfredi said.

He said the man is from Livermore, California, but he couldn’t release more information because of medical privacy laws. State Welfare and Institutes code 5150, under which the man was taken into custody, states he may be held for three days. Manfredi indicated he hasn’t been arrested.

No one at the gas station answered the phone around the time of the incident Thursday or Friday afternoon.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 28, 2012 @ 5:38 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

‘Escorts’ exhibit to open at Magnet

A photo from Tom Schmidt’s book Escorts – The Classic Beauty of Male Sex Workers in San Francisco

A book that features photos of male escorts and benefits a nonprofit that aids sex workers will be the subject of a January exhibit at Magnet, 4122 18th Street.

Escorts – The Classic Beauty of Male Sex Workers in San Francisco aims to shed light on an industry that some say is misunderstood. Part of the proceeds from the book go to St. James Infirmary, a local nonprofit that provides medical and social services for sex workers. Photos from Escorts will be on display beginning January 4 and throughout the month at Magnet.

“The point of the book, to me, is that sex workers, like anybody else, are not caricatures. They’re people,” Tom Schmidt, the photographer behind the book, said. “If you talk to and meet these people, they are students and activists and artists.” One’s worked as a software engineer, he said.

Escorts originally debuted this summer but Schmidt, 48, recently added 45 new pages of pictures, among other updates. The latest version of the book, which is being sold online for $65, plus shipping, will be available January 1.

Schmidt decided to create the book when, after he’d been taking photos in his studio, he discovered some of his models were escorts.

“I realized I had a collection that could come together as a book,” he said.

“A lot of them, they may have three or four regular clients they see, and that’s it,” Schmidt said of the men. “A lot of them see what they do as a type of social work, helping people who just want to be held or have someone to talk to or have someone to express affection to.”

Element Eclipse, 26, one of the models in the book, appears to agree. In an interview in June, around the time the book was first released, Eclipse said, “I personally feel like I’m more of a sex therapist than an escort.”

He said there are “a lot of people that just have an extra budget and are just looking for a good time, with no preconceived conditions.” Eclipse, who said all of his clients are men, specializes in massage and BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism), but he’s also available for dinner and the ballet.

“I would say sex actually happens maybe 40 percent of the time,” he said.

St. James Executive Director Naomi Akers said in an interview today (Thursday, December 27) that she hasn’t yet seen the book, but she supports showing the “diversity” of sex workers.

In San Francisco, men get more recognition for being part of the sex worker industry than they do in other places, but generally, “when you look at all the discussions, it’s women, women, women,” she said.

Schmidt said that since the book first came out, people have been approaching him asking to be included.

A photo from Escorts – The Classic Beauty of Male Sex Workers in San Francisco

Other photographers tend to portray them “in porn style,” he said, but “I love classical Greek and Roman sculpture,” and the photos reflect that.

“I’ve had a lot of comments from models that they’ve done lots of photo shoots, but they’ve never done one quite like what they had with me,” Schmidt said. The focus wasn’t on “making their dick look big and totally stressing one side of who they are,” he said.

Schmidt’s photos “are always spectacular,” Eclipse said. He said he agreed to appear in the book because “I want to give a better outlook” on the occupation. He said the photos portray “our true side, our real personality,” rather than “look at these little sluts.”

Schmidt compensates models with copies of photos they can use on their websites or for other purposes.

Part of the proceeds from the sale of each book go to benefit St. James. All photos in the book can also be ordered directly as prints. All of the proceeds from all prints go directly to St. James. Schmidt estimated he’s sold 75 to 100 copies of Escorts, and about $500 has gone to the nonprofit so far.

Schdmidt’s been trying to find a traditional publisher or printer so he can sell more of the book, which is self-published.

“Bookstores in the city have been very enthusiastic about it,” he said. “They’d like to carry it.”

Copies of the book will be available for sale at the January 4 exhibit opening, which begins at 8 p.m.

Prints of the photos can be ordered directly by emailing Schmidt at

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 27, 2012 @ 8:18 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Local LGBT youth group gains nonprofit status

A local LGBT youth group aimed at working with middle school and high school students has received its nonprofit status.

The all-volunteer-run agency called BAYS, short for the Bay Area Youth Summit, was first profiled by the Bay Area Reporter in September. At the time it had expected to receive its 501(c) 3 designation that month to coincide with a coming-out fundraisier it held.

The process took longer than BAYS leaders anticipated, however, as they announced December 19 that the paperwork had finally been completed. It now bills itself as “the only completely youth-led LGBT nonprofit organization in the world.”

To mark the occasion, BAYS posted its first PSA to Youtube that Wednesday. It features black and white close ups of several male and female young adults, a still of which can be seen at right.

The participants read from the same script, with their lines then spliced together to form the complete message. The video talks about how they know what it is like to be bullied and wanted to “give voice to the voiceless” by founding BAYS.

It had planned to make the announcement and launch the PSA Friday, December 14, which the San Francisco Board of Supervisors had designated as BAYS Day in the city and county of San Francisco. But due to the shooting rampage at an elementary school in Connecticut that morning, BAYS pushed back uploading its PSA online to the following week.

“We were incredibly upset to hear about the tragedy in Connecticut. Out of respect and memorial to those who lost their lives and their loved ones, we will postpone the launch of our Promo Video to a date to be determined,” stated a message on its Facebook page. “Today highlighted the need for safety in schools, and we hope that action will be taken to ensure that something like this never happens again.”

The agency’s primary focus is on middle school students who are struggling with coming out as LGBT. It plans to host biannual summits aimed at addressing bullying that LGBT youth face in Bay Area schools, with a spring 2013 confab already in the works.

To join its Facebook page click here.


— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 6:18 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

San Jose Pride seeks theme for 2013

Organizers for San Jose’s 38th annual LGBT Pride festival are looking for a theme for the 2013 celebration, which is planned for August 17-18.

Theme ideas should be one to four words and may be submitted to the Gay Pride Celebration Committee of San Jose online no later than January 13. The committee’s board will review submissions, and the top five ideas will be posted on Pride’s Facebook page  and blog January 18-25 for community feedback. The theme choice will be announced February 1. The winner will receive two VIP passes to all 2013 Pride events.

The contest is open to anyone living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Only one entry per person will be considered.

The 2012 theme was “Equality for Everyone.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 2:09 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Lesbian’s campaign to oust sheriff falters

Andrea Shorter (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

A campaign to get San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi to resign from office that out lesbian Andrea Shorter has led appears to be faltering.

On December 12, Shorter, a member of the city’s Commission on the Status of Women, and others launched, an online petition which bears the heading “Ross Mirkarimi: Don’t put San Francisco through a recall. Resign!”

The site lists a goal of collecting 50,000 signatures, but it appears that in the two weeks since the launch, only a fraction of the people whose signatures are sought have lent their support.

Shorter didn’t respond to a Bay Area Reporter email asking how many people have signed. In a Friday, December 21 email, former district attorney’s spokeswoman Debbie Mesloh, who was copied on the B.A.R.’s email and is also backing the petition, said only, “We have had thousands of signatures thus far.”

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty to a domestic-violence related charge earlier this year. Mayor Ed Lee called for him to be removed from office, but the Board of Supervisors rejected that bid in October. Shorter’s been pushing for a recall for weeks.

Asked during a December 12 conference call about whether the site is a sign that she’s not as confident as she had been that there’s enough support for a recall, Shorter said her latest effort “doesn’t mean we’re not confident. It means we’re going through a process … We want to make sure we have as broad an outreach as possible to see where people are and what they want to do moving forward.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 26, 2012 @ 3:16 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Herrera files new objection to nudists’ efforts

City Attorney Dennis Herrera

City Attorney Dennis Herrera has filed his latest objection to nudists’ efforts to block San Francisco’s nudity ban.

Nudity advocates have filed a lawsuit against the ban, which Mayor Ed Lee signed into law earlier this month, and  have tried to block its enforcement through a preliminary injunction.

Herrera filed an opposition brief today (Thursday, December 20). His office released a statement saying, “Under federal case law, plaintiffs seeking a preliminary injunction” must prove “that such a remedy is both in the public interest and necessary to prevent irreparable harm to the plaintiffs.”

Herrera stated, “Given that San Francisco temperatures average in the 50s through February, it’s difficult to imagine what irreparable harms plaintiffs would suffer if they couldn’t be naked in public immediately. Federal case law sets a high standard for courts to grant extraordinary relief like preliminary injunctions, and we see no absolutely no basis for it here.”

Nudists behind the lawsuit include Mitch Hightower. Exemptions to the ban, which is set to go into effect February 1, include events like the Folsom Street Fair. Hightower didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.

Last Thursday, December 20, Herrera asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed.

U.S. District Judge Edward M. Chen, with the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, has scheduled a hearing for January 17 to determine if the new law violates the rights of urban nudists. The case is known as Mitch Hightower et al. v. City and County of San Francisco et al.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 20, 2012 @ 12:15 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

SF attorney seeks dismissal of nudity lawsuit

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera (seen at right) has asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit against the recently passed public nudity ban.

In the filing submitted to the court today (Thursday, December 13) Herrera argues that nudity bans “are common” across the country and that all a person has to do is wear a G-string in order to adhere to the law.

The city’s motion also notes that anyone who wishes to be naked in public can do so under the new law at permitted events such as the Bay-to-Breakers race, Pride parade and Folsom Street Fair. The law also does not bar anyone from being naked on the beach or on private property, notes the city.

“Public nudity bans are a longstanding feature of municipal codes throughout the nation, and their constitutionality has been repeatedly affirmed by the courts – including the U.S. Supreme Court,” stated Herrera in a press release.

He added that “the legal challenge is without a basis in the law, and we’re confident the court will dismiss.”

According to the filing, Mayor Ed Lee quietly signed the nudity ban ordinance into law last week Thursday, December 6.  Due to the litigation, the ban is set to set to take effect February 1 rather than the normal 30 days post signing by the mayor.

The ban requires people not to expose their genitals or anal region on city sidewalks, parklets, streets, on Muni vehicles and inside transit stations. The law would exempt permitted street festivals and parades; nudity is already banned in city parks, restaurants and on port property.

U.S. District Judge Edward M. Chen, with the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, has scheduled a hearing for January 17 to determine if the new law violates the rights of urban nudists. The case is known as  Mitch Hightower et al. v. City and County of San Francisco et al.

San Francisco-based lawyer Christina A. DiEdoardo filed the class action lawsuit in November on behalf of four nudists claiming the proposed law violates their freedom of expression and the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

“We are looking forward to a positive hearing before Judge Chen,” DiEdoardo told the Bay Area Reporter in an interview last month. “We are very confident in our case, and I am sure the city is of theirs, and we will go from there.”

The named plaintiffs are Mitch Hightower, a gay man who organizes a yearly nude-in at Jane Warner Plaza in the Castro; Oxane “Gypsy” Taub, a Berkeley resident who hosts her own nudity television show; George Davis, who ran for San Francisco mayor as a nude candidate; and Russell Mills, who oversees a pro-nudity website.

Herrera criticized the nudists’ equal protection claim in their lawsuit as he contends it “could actually undermine” the exceptions for permitted events that was included in the nudity ban.

“The nudism advocates seem to have taken the position that if they can’t be naked everywhere, no one can be naked anywhere,” said Herrera.

The prohibition would prevent anyone older than 5 years old from exposing his or her genitals, perineum or anal region in the listed public areas. It would not apply to a woman’s breasts, nor would it ban such things as chaps or other ass-bearing clothing.

“Because only minimal clothing is required to satisfy the ordinance’s requirements, any burden on expression is de mimimis,” states the city in its filing, meaning that the nudists will continue to have “ample opportunities to express a message.”

“Plaintiffs remain free to shout their beliefs from the rafters,” argues the city. “They simply must wear a minimal amount of clothing while doing so, if those rafters are located in a public place.”

Should the ban become law, violators would be fined $100 for a first offense, and $200 for a second offense. Third time offenders would face a $500 fine and up to a year in jail. Those convicted under the law will not be required to register as sex offenders.

— Matthew S. Bajko, December 13, 2012 @ 2:42 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Sheriff’s opponents launch ‘Ross Resign’ site

Andrea Shorter (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

Andrea Shorter, an out lesbian working to oust San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi from office, announced today (Wednesday, December 12) that she and others have launched an online petition calling on him to resign before his opponents start a recall effort.

The website – – says “A criminal in charge of public safety? We deserve better” and outlines the case against Mirkarimi, who pleaded guilty to a domestic-violence related charge earlier this year. Mayor Ed Lee pushed for Mirkarimi to be removed from office, but the Board of Supervisors rejected that bid in October.

In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Shorter, who’s worked as a consultant and is a member of the Commission on the Status of Women, said the site has been established so that Mirkarimi “knows clearly where people stand in San Francisco.”

The website shows that the coalition is hoping to gather 50,000 signatures.

“We may see that in the next few days or so,” Shorter said.

Responding to the site via text message Wednesday, Mirkarimi said, “I am focused on tackling the enormous challenges facing San Francisco, like a growing inmate population with serious mental health needs, high recidivism rates, and helping protect public safety as I was elected to do.”

Shorter has been promoting a recall effort in recent weeks, but she wouldn’t provide details on who is supporting the idea or say how backers would pay for it.

Citizens for an Accountable Sheriff is sponsoring the site, but Shorter wouldn’t say specifically who’s in that group. She said there’s a “broad coalition” that’s come together, and she’s spoken with “a variety of folks,” including anti-domestic violence advocates, survivors, parents, educators, community leaders, and others “about what the next steps could be.”

Ross Mirkarimi (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

Asked about whether the site is a sign that she’s not as confident as she had been that there’s enough support for a recall, Shorter said her latest effort “doesn’t mean we’re not confident. It means we’re going through a process … We want to make sure we have as broad an outreach as possible to see where people are and what they want to do moving forward.”

She said she didn’t know exactly how much a recall would cost. One estimate has been “a couple million” dollars Shorter said.

“Certainly, we realize that’s a considerable amount of money,” she said, but they want to “set up a grassroots effort” where people can contribute. However, she also said, “We’re not raising any funds” through the site, which doesn’t include a link where people can make donations.

People are weighing the financial cost of a recall against “the moral and ethical cost” of having a sheriff who’s “a convicted abuser,” Shorter said.

She said she’s not being paid for her work. Asked if she would be, Shorter said, “I don’t know. I don’t think so.”

Debbie Mesloh, who was once a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office and said she’s now volunteering for the anit-Mirkarimi effort, said, “It’s too early for any of those decisions to be made.”

Mesloh said the effort has been “volunteer-driven. There hasn’t been an official committee or anything like that formed until we see how people feel about it.” She said the site gives people who want Mirkarimi ousted a place to go.

In an email exchange after the call, Mesloh said, “The website is being paid for by a group of volunteers,” and she didn’t know the cost.

Lee’s office said Wednesday that at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, December 13,  he, District Attorney George Gascón, Board President David Chiu, and non-specified officials from the Department on the Status of Women would appear in his office (Room 200, City Hal) to launch a citywide campaign to end domestic violence.

A couple minutes after his first text, Mirkarimi sent another message that referred to his wife, Eliana Lopez, and his son.

“Eliana, Theo and me wish everyone a very happy holiday and wonderful new year,” he said.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 12, 2012 @ 6:22 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

City College program offers Woody Guthrie tribute

As the work to save City College of San Francisco continues, the school’s Labor and Community Studies Department is offering a Woody Guthrie tribute concert today (Thursday, December 6).

The performance, which marks the 100th anniversary of the folk singer’s birth, is planned for 6:30-9 p.m. at the Diego Rivera Theatre, City College of San Francisco, 50 Phelan Avenue near Judson.

After years of budget cuts and mismanagement the community college, which serves thousands of students including LGBTs and people who are low-income, is struggling to stay open.

The concert will also be a celebration of the passages of Proposition A, a local parcel tax designed to help the college, and state Proposition 30, which raises some taxes in order to fund education.

Performers include Jon Fromer, Francisco Herrera, The La Pena Community Chorus, and others, according to an email blast from the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club.

Tickets are $10 for employed people, and $5 for those unemployed and students. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

For more information or to reserve tickets, contact Labor and Community Studies at  (415) 550-4459.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 6, 2012 @ 2:10 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Gay CA Assembly speaker eyes Lt Gov bid

Gay California Assembly Speaker John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles) is eying a potential 2018 bid for lieutenant governor.

Should he indeed seek the post and win, Perez could potentially be the first openly LGBT person to hold a statewide elected office in the Golden State. He is the first out politician to file papers to run for such a post in an upcoming election.

Late Wednesday afternoon (December 5) the Sacramento Bee reported that Perez had opened up a campaign committee Friday, November 30 to begin raising money for a potential race. The current holder of the office, former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, would be termed out in 2018 should he win re-election to a second term in 2014.

Back in 2010 Perez endorsed Newsom over the candidacy of fellow Angeleno Janice Hahn’s bid for lieutenant governor. Hahn had been an L.A. city councilwoman but won a congressional seat in 2011.

Perez just won re-election to a third term in the Assembly and thus will be termed out of that office in 2014. He could run for a state Senate seat in the future or some other post depending on what seats become open.

His political strategist Doug Herman suggested such a possibility to the Bee, telling the paper that  running for lieutenant governor is “among his ‘serious options’ for continuing public service after leaving the Assembly.”

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) has also opened up an exploratory committee to run for lieutenant governor and has raised more than $500,000 since 2011, noted the Bee. Steinberg is termed out of office in 2014.

But seeing the state’s top two legislative leaders duke it out for the lieutenant governor’s post is unlikely, according to Herman, who was quoted saying that he doesn’t believe they would run against each other.



— Matthew S. Bajko, December 5, 2012 @ 6:17 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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