Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Police: Man used anti-gay slurs before Mission district attack

A man San Francisco police accused of attacking another man and using anti-gay slurs in the Mission district over the weekend was set to be arraigned Tuesday (December 24).

Police arrested Jason Williams, 38, in the alleged attack, which started around 11:45 p.m. Friday, December 20 when the victim walked past Williams in the 500 block of Valencia Street, according to Sergeant Eric O’Neal, a spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department.

Williams “began insulting [the victim] with epithets,” and punched him in the face, causing him to fall and hit his head on the sidewalk, O’Neal said in a summary. The victim, 43, lost consciousness and suffered a non-life threatening head injury,

In an interview, O’Neal said that Williams “said some homophobic obscenities” to the victim, but he didn’t have details of what exactly Williams allegedly said.

“It’s an open investigation right now,” said O’Neal.

Officers arrived and arrested Williams on charges of battery causing serious bodily injury, inflicting great bodily injury while committing a felony, and committing a hate crime.

According to a staffer at the public defender’s office, prosecutors are keeping the battery charge but dismissing the other two charges. Williams was due to be formally charged Tuesday afternoon.

Stephanie Ong Stillman, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Williams is in San Francisco County jail on $165,000 bail. It wasn’t clear early Tuesday who would represent him.

There has been heightened concern in the Mission in recent months around attacks on transgender women. O’Neal didn’t know whether the victim is gay or transgender. He said Williams is “transient” but has been living in San Francisco.

O’Neal said he also didn’t have details on any prior relationship between Williams and the victim, and he wasn’t able to provide a booking photo of Williams.







— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 24, 2013 @ 2:21 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

EQCA endorses gay South Bay Assembly candidate Evan Low

The statewide LGBT advocacy group Equality California has endorsed gay Campbell Mayor Evan Low’s bid for a South Bay Assembly seat.

The news, officially announced today (Monday, December 23), is the latest endorsement from EQCA of an out non-incumbent candidate for a state legislative seat. To date, there are now only three male candidates from the LGBT community and aren’t current officeholders who have announced they are running to serve in the Legislature.

Last week EQCA’s Political Action Committee backed gay San Francisco Supervisor David Campos in his bid for a state Assembly seat. (The Bay Area Reporter will have more on the decision to back Campos over his opponent and board colleague, straight Supervisor David Chiu, in the December 26 issue’s Political Notebook column.)

That leaves Andy Katz, who is bisexual and seeking a state Assembly seat in the East Bay, as the sole out non-incumbent candidate waiting to learn if he will have the backing of group. In a brief interview with the B.A.R. last week, EQCA Executive Director John O’Connor said the PAC had yet to make a determination in Katz’s race.

evan low picLow, 30, (seen at right) is seeking the 28th Assembly District seat covering portions of west San Jose and several Peninsula cities such as Saratoga, Los Gatos, and Campbell. His boss, Assemblyman Paul Fong (D-Cupertino), currently holds the seat and will be termed out of office next December.

Cupertino Councilman Barry Chang, like Low a Democrat, and Republican Silicon Valley engineer Michael Hunsweck are also seeking the seat. So far Low is considered the front-runner and has amassed considerable political support and financial donations for his campaign.

“Evan Low is a dynamic leader who has been outspoken for LGBT equality in Campbell, statewide and nationally,” stated O’Connor in the press release announcing EQCA’s endorsement. “His impact is undeniable and his potentional to lead in the California legislature unquestionable. We fully back his campaign and are excited to work with him in the future!”

Low stated that he was “proud” to have the group’s support.

“EQCA has been the driving force in achieving protections for the LGBT community in California. Their fight for civil rights helps all Americans,” stated Low. “I look forward to continuing to work with EQCA in my campaign and in the Assembly.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, December 23, 2013 @ 4:39 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Colfax to leave White House AIDS post

Dr. Grant Colfax (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

Dr. Grant Colfax (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

Dr. Grant Colfax is set to leave his role as director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy January 13, less than two years after he took the post.

Before Obama appointed him to the position in March 2012, Colfax, who’s gay, served as the director of San Francisco’s HIV Prevention Section.

The Washington Blade first reported news of Colfax’s departure December 19.

In a statement, Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, said, “As the President’s top adviser on domestic HIV/AIDS policy, Grant has been central in ensuring that our efforts to combat the domestic epidemic are science-based, meet the needs of populations most affected by HIV, and break down HIV-related stigma and discrimination. He has been instrumental in efforts such as developing and launching the HIV Care Continuum Initiative to increase HIV testing and treatment rates, decreasing the AIDS Drug Assistance Program waitlists, bolstering the Ryan White Program, and working with the National Institutes of Health to launch a new HIV Cure Initiative. Grant will truly be missed and we wish him well in his next steps.”

Officials haven’t said why Colfax is leaving or who will replace him. Colfax didn’t respond to an interview request.



— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 2:17 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Federal judge throws out Utah ban on same-sex marriage

A federal judge in Utah issued a decision Friday striking down that state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Obama appointee Judge Robert Shelby issued a 53-page decision December 20 in Kitchen v. Herbert, saying the state’s current definition of marriage is not permissible under the U.S. Constitution.

Noting that a court interferes with a law adopted by voters “only under exceptional circumstances,” Shelby said, “Utah’s prohibition on same-sex marriage conflicts with the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process under the law.”

“The state’s current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry,” wrote Shelby, “and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason.”

Shelby’s order immediately enjoined the state from enforcing its ban, but Republican Governor Gary Herbert’s administration will almost certainly seek an emergency stay of the decision from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

It is, nevertheless, yet another surge of momentum in the direction of marriage equality in the United States, coming just one day after the New Mexico Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, said that state could no longer interpret its marriage laws to exclude same-sex couples. That decision made New Mexico the 17th state in the country, plus the District of Columbia, to provide marriage equality and putting more than one-third of states and one-third of the nation’s population in jurisdictions that treat same-sex couples the same as straight couples.

Gay rights advocates praised the decision.

“Today’s ruling by a federal district court in Utah, striking down Utah’s marriage ban, is a huge win, not only for same-sex couples in Utah, but for our entire country,” said Shannon Minter, legal director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “This is the first decision since the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act to overturn a state marriage ban under the federal constitution. To have such a historic ruling take place in Utah speaks volumes about our country’s trajectory from discrimination to acceptance and support for same-sex couples and their families. We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the brave couples who brought this case, as well as to the superb attorney, Peggy Tomsic, who represented them.”

– reported by Lisa Keen

— Cynthia Laird, December 20, 2013 @ 3:43 pm PST
Filed under: News,Politics

Nonprofit store seeks funds to remain in Castro space

Courtesy Under One Roof

Courtesy Under One Roof

The nonprofit store known as Under One Roof has again had its lease on a pop-up space in the Castro extended and is now seeking help to cover the added rent expense.

The volunteer-run retailer funnels proceeds from merchandise sales to local AIDS agencies. It has a generous month-to-month lease for a store in the Crocker Galleria in downtown San Francisco that it opened in April after shutting down its Castro store in January.

Then Castro landowner and gay bar operator Les Natali, who owns the Badlands and Toad Hall, offered Under One Roof the vacant storefront adjacent to his long closed Patio Cafe restaurant on Market Street on a temporary basis this summer rent free.

Its Bizarre Bazaar Pop Up at 541 Castro Street was set to close around Labor Day weekend, but Natali extended the lease on a month-to-month basis allowing Under One Roof to maintain a holiday gift store in the city’s gayborhood.

Now Natali is allowing the store to remain in the Castro location through March of 2014. But this time Under One Roof needs to raise $7,000 to help it cover the cost of operating a second store.

“The Community has been so happy that we have been able to return to the Castro this Holiday Season, and we have just learned that our landlord will allow us to stay for a couple months more,” stated an email, signed by Under One Roof Board Chairman Tim Smith, sent out this morning (Thursday, December 19). “However, we did not budget for rental expense to maintain a store in the Castro during the first part of 2014, so we need your support to raise $7,000 by January 15th so that we can stay at the 541 Castro location until March.”

Smith noted that tax-deductible donations toward the rent expenses can be made online or by dropping off a contribution at either of Under One Roof’s stores.

— Matthew S. Bajko, December 19, 2013 @ 2:14 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

New Mexican restaurant on upper Market Street wins approval

slide1A new Mexican sit-down restaurant is headed to upper Market Street after winning approval from the Planning Commission this afternoon (Thursday, December 19).

Named Bandidos, the eatery will be housed in a ground-floor space at 2200 Market Street where the new mixed-use development dubbed The Century San Francisco (seen at left) is set to open in early 2014.

The locally-owned business garnered no opposition to its conditional use request, and the planning commissioners unanimously approved it without holding a hearing as part of its consent calendar items today.

As the Bay Area Reporter noted in a blog post last month, co-owners Jesse Woodward and Dana Gleim hope to welcome diners to the restaurant down the street from their gay sports bar Hi Tops by June next year.

They have promised it will not be a taqueria style place, and according to the planning staff report, will be open for dinner weekdays and opening earlier on the weekends to serve a brunch crowd.  The plans call for 12 sidewalk seats and 80 seats indoors, with a bar lounge closing at midnight seven days a week.

The restaurateurs are leasing the space and acquiring a liquor license from property owner Leticia Luna, who years ago had run her own Mexican eatery known as Leticia’s on the corner site at the intersection of Market, 15th and Sanchez streets.

Prior to the demolition of the building that had stood there was the Thai House restaurant. The new eatery will occupy a nearly 3,000 square foot corner retail space, while next door facing Market Street will be a second, smaller storefront for lease.

Initially, Luna had sought a bank for the corner storefront but approached the Hi Tops team about opening up a restaurant after the city put in place an 18-month moratorium on allowing financial services to open along upper Market Street.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 1:43 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

New Mexico Supreme Court rules same-sex marriages must be allowed

New Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday (December 19) that same-sex marriages must be allowed in the state.

“The court ruled that county clerks must issue marriage licenses to otherwise qualified same-sex couples and that the State of New Mexico must respect the marriages of all same-sex couples, including those who married before today’s decision,” the San Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights announced in a news release.

Edward Chavez New Mexico

Justice Edward Chavez (Photo: New Mexico Supreme Court)

According to NCLR, in the court’s decision, Justice Edward Chavez wrote, “barring individuals from marrying and depriving them of the rights, protections, and responsibilities of civil marriage solely because of their sexual orientation violates the Equal Protection Clause under Article II, Section 18 of the New Mexico Constitution. We hold that the State of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend to them the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law.”

In March, the six plaintiff couples in the case filed a lawsuit seeking marriage equality. In August, Judge Alan Malott of the Second Judicial District Court in Albuquerque ordered the Bernalillo and Santa Fe County clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. All of the state’s 33 county clerks then filed a petition asking the New Mexico Supreme Court to rule whether same-sex couples could marry in the state, according to NCLR. The court heard oral arguments in  October.

Some county clerks had already begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and hundreds of the couples have married in the past few months. Thursday’s ruling means the state marriages must respect those marriages.

NCLR, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU-New Mexico, and numerous attorneys represented the plaintiff couples in the case.

NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter stated Thursday, “Today’s decision by the New Mexico Supreme Court is a powerful affirmation that same-sex couples are equal members of New Mexico’s diverse culture and must be given the same legal protections and respect as other families. With this ruling, New Mexico joins 16 other states, the District of Columbia, and at least eight Native American tribes that permit same-sex couples to marry.  This is an important day, not only for New Mexico, but for the entire country.”

ACLU-New Mexico Legal Director Laura Schauer Ives stated, “This truly is a historic and joyful day for New Mexico. As a state, we have always strived to treat all families with dignity and respect, and today’s decision allowing loving, committed same sex couples to marry continues that tradition. The more than 1000 same-sex couples who have already married in New Mexico can now rest certain knowing their marriages will be recognized and respected by our state.”

With Thursday’s ruling, New Mexico becomes the 17th state to allow same-sex marriages, which the District of Columbia also permits.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 12:59 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Trans filmmaker Christopher Lee to be remembered at screenings

Friends and chosen family of the late transgender filmmaker Christopher Lee will gather in Oakland this weekend for screenings of four of his films and to celebrate his life nearly a year after his death.

Lee, who was also known as Christoph, died by suicide December 22, 2012. He was 48.

(Christopher Lee. Photo: Courtesy Shivaun Nestor)

(Christopher Lee. Photo: Courtesy Shivaun Nestor)

On Saturday, December 21, several organizations will present “Christopher Lee: A Community Celebration and Film Screening” at the New Parkway Theater, 474 24th Street in Oakland’s Uptown district. Program 1, which will screen Trappings of Transhood and Christopher’s Chronicles, is scheduled for noon to 1:45 p.m. Program 2 will take place from 2 to 4:45 p.m. and includes Alley of the Tranny Boys and Sex Flesh in Blood. Tickets can be purchased at or at the door. The cost is $10 per program. Onsite childcare will be available.

Lee was long involved in local film circles and helped found Tranny Fest, now called the San Francisco Transgender Film Festival.

Organizers said that following the screenings, representatives from the Transgender Law Center will provide information on new legislation that they plan to put forward next year in collaboration with Equality California. The legislation was sparked in part by Lee’s chosen family’s work to have his death certificate reflect his chosen name and gender identity.

In addition, organizers are inviting attendees to bring fliers, brochures, or other materials related to supporting the health, resilience, art, and culture of transgender people and their families, and to share them at resource tables that will be available.

“It’s so important to celebrate and honor those who we have lost,” TLC executive Director Masen Davis said in a statement. “Christopher’s legacy will live on in so many ways, one of which is inspiring the momentum to change the law so that all Californians can have their gender identity respected upon their passing.”

Chino Scott-Chung, a member of Lee’s chosen family, said that Lee was his brother, best friend, and confidante.

“He had that way of looking right into your eyes, looking for that place where he could find you, where his deeply etched smile lives,” Scott-Chung said. “Christopher lives.”

A number of community leaders who were featured in Trappings of Transhood will be present, including writer and public health consultant Willy Wilkinson, who noted that the film is a historic documentation of the lives of a multicultural group “of transmasculine individuals at a time when few genuine representations of us existed.”

In addition to TLC and the San Francisco Transgender Film Festival, some of the other co-sponsors include Dragon’s Blood Rising, the New Parkway Theater, Asian Pacific Islander Queer Women and Transgender Community, Lolo Cooperative Health, and Fresh Meat Productions.
Christopher Lee (Photo: Courtesy Shivaun Nestor)

— Cynthia Laird, December 18, 2013 @ 4:31 pm PST
Filed under: Arts,film

Shanti recognized for volunteer program

Shanti, a San Francisco nonprofit that provides support to people living with AIDS, cancer, and other life-threatening illnesses, is being recognized for its “outstanding volunteer program” by CaliforniaVolunteers, the state office that encourages people to volunteer.

The nonprofit has been named a Service Enterprise by CaliforniaVolunteers, making it one of the first U.S. nonprofits to be certified as such.

“To be recognized at the forefront of the Service Enterprise movement, with this elite group of organizations, is an honor and validates the services our volunteers have been providing, and the work we’ve been executing,” Shanti Executive Director Kaushik Roy said in a news release. A Shanti volunteer often represents their sole source of support – the difference between having one compassionate advocate by their side, or no one at all.” Roy said his group has trained over 15,000 people and more than 600 organizations worldwide.

According to Shanti, it scored the highest of the 18 nonprofits assessed in the Bay Area. Shanti’s volunteer time is valued at $25.84 per hour, and the total services provided to the community are valued at $361,760 during the 2012-13 fiscal year. CaliforniaVolunteers recognizes groups that “fundamentally leverage volunteers and their skills across all levels of the organization to deliver on a social mission,” according to Shanti. The other nonprofits assessed included Project Open Hand,which provides meals to people living with AIDS and other illnesses, Larkin Street Youth Services, and Meals on Wheels SF.

Shanti works to enhance its clients’ quality of life, health, and well-being by providing practical and emotional support to more than 1,800 people a year. There are 250 volunteers who served over 14,000 hours throughout the most rent fiscal year.

Jill Blackburn, director of programs at the Volunteer Center, stated, “The CaliforniaVolunteers Service Enterprise Initiative diagnostic, delivered to over 80 organizations in California so far,” provides her office a chance to highlight groups like Shanti “that are already operating a close-to-optimal volunteer practice.”

Shanti will be holding the first peer support training of 2014 January 24 to 26, and the evening of January 29. Specific times weren’t available.

Those interested “are matched one-on-one with a client for whom they will provide weekly companionship, a non-judgmental ear, and light practical assistance,” and they’ll join “a community of thoughtful, supportive volunteers and staff,” Roy said in an email.

For more information, email or call (415) 674-4708.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 10:32 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Berkeley memorial set for Mandela

Nelson Mandela spoke at the 2002 International AIDS Conference in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

Nelson Mandela spoke at the 2002 International AIDS Conference in Barcelona, Spain.
(Photo: Rick Gerharter)

A memorial for former South African President Nelson Mandela has been set for 3-5 p.m. Saturday, December 14 at Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley main campus, near the intersection of Telegraph Avenue and Bancroft Way.

Mandela, the global human rights icon who served 27 years in prison and helped end apartheid in his country, died December 5 at age 95 after suffering from recurring lung problems.

Mandela held a special place in the hearts and minds of LGBT rights activists for many reasons, chief among them was his work in drafting South Africa’s new constitution that included protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

He served as South Africa’s president from 1994 to 1999. In 1993, he shared the Nobel Peace Prize with former South African President F.W. de Klerk.

Speakers at the Berkeley memorial will include gay California Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles) and UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks. The event will also include music from the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir and will end with a candlelight vigil.

In the 1980s, UC Berkeley was the site of the campus divestment movement, where hundreds protested the university’s investments in corporations and banks doing business with the apartheid regime.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 13, 2013 @ 2:02 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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