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

Man sues SF Pride over 2013 shooting

Len Broberg, left, an SFPD inspector who was not working the Pride shooting case, faulted Pride officials for inadequate security. He is seen here with fellow officers along the parade route hours before the 2013 incident.(Photo: Rick Gerharter)

Len Broberg, left, an SFPD inspector who was not working the Pride shooting case, faulted Pride officials for inadequate security. He is seen here with fellow officers along the parade route hours before the 2013 incident.(Photo: Rick Gerharter)

A man who was shot at last year’s San Francisco LGBT Pride celebration is suing organizers, claiming they failed to provide adequate security.

Trevor Gardner, who’s 23 and lives in Los Angeles, is suing the city’s LGBT Pride Celebration Committee for “not less than $10 million,” according to the complaint he filed Thursday (May 29) in San Francisco Superior Court.

In a brief interview Thursday, Ryan Lapine, the attorney representing Gardner, said, “San Francisco Pride abjectly failed in their responsibility to secure this event.” He said it’s “difficult to put a price tag on” Gardner’s injuries, which “are permanent in nature” and will “affect him the rest of his life.”

Gardner had been working at a booth at the June 2013 festival when he was shot. Another man also was shot in the incident. Lapine didn’t know if the second man also planned to sue Pride. It wasn’t clear Thursday whether any arrests were made in connection with the incident. Police department spokespeople didn’t immediately respond to requests for information.

Pride Committee Executive Director George Ridgely and Pride board President Gary Virginia didn’t immediately respond to interview requests Thursday. Ridgely and Virginia both joined Pride after last year’s festival.

Shortly after the incident last year, Len Broberg, a friend of Gardner and the other victim, questioned the Pride Committee’s security practices and criticized the group’s top officials for not responding to the incident.

“I know there were a lot of cops out there,” Broberg said, but “you have to do something else to control the crowd.”

(Broberg, an out gay SFPD inspector, emphasized that he was speaking as a community member and as someone who attended the Pride festival, not as an investigator in the case.)

The Bay Area Reporter will have more on this story in the Thursday, June 5 edition.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 29, 2014 @ 1:18 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Man uses flashlight, skateboard in Castro robbery

A man used a flashlight to distract another man, took his cellphone, and threatened him with a skateboard early Thursday morning in San Francisco’s gay Castro district.

The incident started at about 3 a.m. May 29 at 18th and Castro streets when the victim, 26, was walking and the suspect approached him, according to a summary by Officer Albie Esparza, a spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department.

The suspect, described only as a white male in his 30s, “used a flashlight to distract and disorient” the victim while removing the victim’s cellphone and wallet from his front coat pocket, said Esparza.

After the man asked for his property back, the suspect tossed his wallet to the ground. When the victim tried to retrieve it, Esparza said, “He was met with the threat of physical violence via a skateboard.” The suspect then fled on foot east on 18th Street. The victim wasn’t injured.

Anyone with information related to the case may call the SFPD anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444. People may also text a tip to TIP411. Type SFPD in the subject line. The incident number is 140 447 423.




— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 12:21 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Oakland councilmember Kaplan announces engagement

Oakland at-large City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan announced Thursday that she is engaged to her longtime girlfriend.

Rebecca Kaplan, right, and her fiancee, Pamela. (Photo: Courtesy Kaplan's Facebook page)

Rebecca Kaplan, right, and her fiancee, Pamela Rosin. (Photo: Courtesy Kaplan’s Facebook page)

Kaplan made the announcement on her Facebook page on Harvey Milk Day, May 22. No wedding date was listed.

In her post, Kaplan praised her girlfriend, identified only as Pamela. Kaplan’s spokesman Jason Overman declined to provide Pamela’s last name, citing security concerns.

A quick search showed Kaplan’s fiancee is Pamela Rosin, owner of Awakening Presence Somatic Counseling in San Francisco’s Castro district.

“In 2012, I met my beloved – Pamela – and we’re excited to announce that we’ve gotten engaged,” Kaplan wrote. “I feel so blessed to have Pamela in my life. We both deeply value our love with each other and our work to improve the world around us. She has a beautiful heart, she makes me laugh – and I have to say: she gives great fashion advice.”

— Cynthia Laird, May 22, 2014 @ 2:05 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Gay SF-based video journalist seeks funds for sex education film

Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 2.56.05 PMA gay video journalist based in San Francisco is seeking funds to help cover the cost of a sex education film he is making.

Alex Liu (seen shirtless in photo) studied molecular toxicology at UC Berkeley and worked at Genentech. He has reported health and science news for NOVA scienceNOW, CNN Health, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and San Francisco NPR station KQED.

In 2012, he started posting videos about sexual health related issues to his YouTube channel The Science of Sin. Since then he has created more than 30 videos, which feature a mix of “science, sketch comedy, and a little skin,” and has amassed an audience of more than 11,000 followers.

Slate recently named Liu’s video page one of its “Brilliant Ideas To Fix Science Education.” Now he wants to expand his webisodes into a full fledged movie called “A Sexplanation.”

According to Liu, his feature-length documentary “will strip down human sexuality from the biological to the sociological, starting with the premise that pleasure is a worthwhile pursuit.”

The project has already secured support from London-based production and distribution company Flynn Entertainment as a co-producer. The total cost for the film is estimated at $28,188, with an initial line budget of $22,788 and $5,400 for post-production.

Liu recently launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo and easily surpassed his $10,000 goal. Now, with more than $11,500 raised, Liu is trying to reach $15,000 by May 28.

Some of the perks for those who donate are a DVD or digital download of the film ($50 level); a skyped 30-minute “sexplanation” call with Liu and an uncensored version of the movie ($69 level); a sex toy starter kit ($99 level); or executive producer credit and perks ($1,500 level).

He expects to begin filming this summer and intends to “journey through church pews, biology labs, fetish conventions and therapy sessions, investigating the stories of researchers, educators, and sexual pioneers, exploring what makes human sexuality throb, and how we can better understand sex.”


— Matthew S. Bajko, May 21, 2014 @ 3:16 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

CDC launches new campaign to get gay and bi guys talking about HIV

Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 2.00.05 PMWith HIV infection rates remaining stagnant in the U.S., federal health officials are trying to jump start a national dialogue about HIV prevention with gay and bisexual men.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today (May 21) launched its latest campaign called “Start Talking. Stop HIV.”  Its focus is to promote gay and bisexual men to openly discuss HIV risk and prevention strategies with their sexual partners.

And as the posters for the campaign make clear, those strategies include PrEP, for pre-exposure prophylaxis, the once-a-day pill regimen that has been shown to be effective at reducing HIV infection rates. As the Bay Area Reporter noted on its blog last week, the CDC is now recommending that anyone at risk of contracting HIV should start taking the daily HIV prevention pill commonly known as Truvada.

“Given the range of HIV prevention options available today, talking about HIV prevention has never been more important for gay and bisexual men,” stated Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. “Only after having open and honest conversations can partners make informed choices about which strategies will work for them. ‘Start Talking. Stop HIV.’ urges gay and bisexual men to break the silence and take control of their health.”

According to the CDC, gay and bisexual men account for more than half of the 1.1 million people living with HIV in the United States (57 percent, or an estimated 657,800 persons) and approximately two-thirds of all new HIV infections each year (66 percent, or an estimated 31,400 infections).

Young (ages 13-24) men who have sex with men, especially young black MSM, are at particularly high risk for HIV, according to CDC data. Despite this heavy burden, a recent CDC study of gay and bisexual men in 20 cities found that 37 percent did not know the HIV status of their last male partner.

The new ad campaign is designed to reach gay and bisexual men of all races and ethnicities in all types of relationships, from casual to long-term. Created in consultation with more than 500 gay and bisexual men, it features real-world individuals and couples talking about HIV.

“Talking to your partner about HIV is one of the most important conversations you can have, but it’s not always an easy one,” stated Scott Johnson, a campaign participant. “To anybody getting into a new relationship: Start talking immediately. There’s no reason to be embarrassed or silent about anything.”

Campaign messages will appear nationwide in print and online ads, in billboard and transit advertising in key cities, and at Pride and other community events across the country. It also includes a number of short videos posted online.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 2:16 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Gay electeds, lesbian singer among invited guests for White House Milk stamp event

zne-jb-harveymilkA host of elected leaders and Grammy-nominated lesbian singer / songwriter Mary Lambert are among the invited guests to the White House unveiling of the Harvey Milk stamp next week.

The 49-cent forever Milk stamp will go on sale to the public Thursday, May 22, on what would have been his 84th birthday. The day is observed as Harvey Milk Day in California, which first declared the date a day of special significance in 2010.

The Milk stamp marks the first to be issued in honor of an American for their role in the fight for LGBT rights. Milk became the first openly gay person elected to public office in the Golden State when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977.

A year later he was assassinated along with then-Mayor George Moscone by disgruntled former supervisor Dan White. The idea of a Milk stamp first arose in the late 1980s, when San Francisco artist Jim Leff, a gay man who knew Milk, painted a mock-up of what such a stamp could look like.

As the Bay Area Reporter first disclosed in March, the U.S. Postal Service and the Harvey Milk Foundation opted to hold the official first day of issuance ceremony for the  Milk stamp in Washington, D.C. in conjunction with the annual Harvey Milk Champions of Change event where President Barack Obama honors LGBT Americans who have made significant societal contributions.

This afternoon the Milk foundation released a list of guests expected to attend the White House ceremony set to take place at noon Pacific time. Among the announced attendees are Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations; Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco); and Stuart Milk, Harvey’s gay nephew who is a founder and president of the Milk foundation.

Two out politicians were on the list: U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), the first openly LGBT person to serve in the Senate, and Evan Low, a gay man who serves on the Campbell City Council near San Jose.

Also on the list are Congressman John Lewis (D-Georgia), a longtime civil rights leader; Deputy Postmaster General Ronald A. Stroman; Harvey Milk Foundation Co-Founder Anne Kronenberg, who was an aide to Milk; and Chuck Wolfe, President and CEO of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute.

Others not on the list who are expected to attend the ceremony include gay San Diego resident Nicole Murray-Ramirez, known as Empress Nicole the Great, The Queen Mother of the Americas within the Imperial Court System, who led a nationwide letter writing campaign urging the postal service to issue a Milk stamp; International Court Council President Rob Surreal, from Kennewick, Washington; and Emperor Michael Gaffney of Phoenix.

Lambert rose to stardom due to signing the hook on Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s gay rights anthem “Same Love,” which she then remixed into her own song about same-sex love called “She Keeps Me Warm.”

As the B.A.R.‘s Political Notebook column reported today, the White House ceremony will not be the only unveiling for the Milk stamp next Thursday. Officials in San Francisco and Chico, California have planned their own ceremonies in the early evening of May 22.

— Matthew S. Bajko, May 15, 2014 @ 3:01 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Truck catches fire after crashing into Castro funeral home

A semi truck is engulfed in flames after crashing into Sullivan's Funeral Home and Cremation Services Thursday (May 15). (Photo by Matt Oertli, courtesy of KTVU)

A semi truck is engulfed in flames after crashing into Sullivan’s Funeral Home and Cremation Services Thursday (May 15). (Photo by Matt Oertli, originally posted by KTVU)

A semi truck crashed into Sullivan’s Funeral Home and Cremation Services and caught fire in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood early Thursday (May 15) after the truck’s hood went up and the driver lost control of the vehicle, according to police and other sources.

Authorities gave differing accounts of injuries but police said one person suffered a broken leg. One of the people who owns the funeral home, at 2254 Market Street, indicated damage to the business was minimal.

Sergeant Danielle Newman, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Police Department, said in a summary that the truck was traveling westbound on Market at about 12:30 a.m. Thursday when the hood flew open “and the driver heard a bang.” He lost control and the truck crashed into the business, said Newman.

“The vehicle and the building caught on fire,” she said.

According to an email from Lieutenant Mindy Talmadge, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Fire Department, “the semi was fully involved with fire and the fire was spreading into the building” and a “second alarm assignment was requested.”

Talmadge said, “The fire was under control at 1:50 a.m.”

Officials offered differing accounts of injuries.

“Two patients were transported from the scene, one with life-threatening injuries, one with non-life-threatening injuries,” said Talmadge.

Newman said one of the men suffered a broken leg and was transported to San Francisco General Hospital.

In a brief interview, she said she didn’t have additional information, including whether the driver was tested for drugs or alcohol.

Jim Sullivan, 72, a co-owner of the funeral home, said at about 10 a.m. Market remained closed between 15th and Noe streets for “just half a block.” He said hazardous materials workers were “trying to clean up the fuel.”

Someone had been in the funeral home at the time of the incident but wasn’t harmed, said Sullivan.

“We have someone that lives here, but they were not injured,” he said. “They got out of the building. Everything is fine.”

Sullivan said by the time he arrived on the scene just before 2 a.m. the flames had been extinguished but the truck was “pretty well demolished.”

A call to Southwest Traders, the frozen yogurt trucking company whose vehicle was involved, wasn’t returned.

There hadn’t been any fire inside the business, said Sullivan. Damage included “several broken windows from the heat and several broken doors where the firemen had to get in” to check the building’s rafters, he said.

Sullivan said his business would remain open.

“As soon as I get the carpet cleaners in here today and the front door glass replaced, we’ll be in fine shape,” he said.

Neighboring businesses and an apartment house next door weren’t affected, according to Sullivan.

The damage to his funeral home was minimal, but he acknowledged the situation had been scary.

“We’ve been here for 90 years, and we’ve never had a problem like this,” he said.

Names of the businesses involved appeared in media reports and were not released by authorities.



— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 1:21 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

CDC expands recommended usage of a daily HIV prevention pill

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden

Federal health officials are recommending that anyone, not just gay and bisexual men, at risk of contracting HIV should start taking a daily HIV prevention pill.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today (May 14) issued new clinical guidelines to the nation’s healthcare providers that recommend they advise the use of anti-HIV drugs to their uninfected patients who are at substantial risk of infection.

Known as PrEP, for pre-exposure prophylaxis, the once-a-day pill regimen has been shown to be effective at reducing HIV infection rates. When taken daily as directed, PrEP can reduce the risk of HIV infection by more than 90 percent, according to studies.

However, inconsistent use of the drug results in much lower levels of protection.

“HIV infection is preventable, yet every year we see some 50,000 new HIV infections in the United States,” stated CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden. “PrEP, used along with other prevention strategies, has the potential to help at-risk individuals protect themselves and reduce new HIV infections in the United States.”

The new guidelines also stress that patients be tested for HIV prior to starting PreP and be tested again at three-month intervals so if someone on PrEP does become infected with HIV they discontinue taking the drugs and begin HIV treatment.

Otherwise, warns the CDC,  the virus could become resistant to the PrEP drugs.

In 2011, following an efficacy study, the CDC issued preliminary PrEP guidelines that recommended only gay and bisexual men with “substantial, ongoing, high risk” for acquiring HIV should start taking the drugs.

A year later the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug known as Truvada, which combines 300 milligrams tenofovir disoproxil fumarate with 200 milligrams emtricitabine (TDF/FTC), for use as PrEP in combination with safer sex practices.

Last year, due to the results of another study, the CDC revised its PrEP guidelines to include its use by people at high risk for contracting HIV through injection drug use.

Based on the new guidance published this afternoon in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the federal agency is now advising heterosexuals at risk of contracting HIV through sex, such as not always using condoms or having sex with injection drug users, also begin taking PrEP.

In addition, anyone in an “ongoing sexual relationship” with a person who is HIV positive should consider using PrEP, according to the new advice from the CDC.

The new guidance also specifies the drug regimen should be considered by any gay or bisexual men who have had sex without a condom or have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease within the last six months and is not in a “mutually monogamous relationship” with a partner who recently tested HIV negative.

“While a vaccine or cure may one day end the HIV epidemic, PrEP is a powerful tool that has the potential to alter the course of the U.S. HIV epidemic today,” stated Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. “These guidelines represent an important step toward fully realizing the promise of PrEP.  We should add to this momentum, working to ensure that PrEP is used by the right people, in the right way, in the right circumstances.”

The introduction of PrEP has not been without controversy. One of the most vocal opponents has been Michael Weinstein, the president and CEO of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation based in Los Angeles, who this year called Truvada “a party drug.”

In response to today’s news from the CDC, Weinstein issued a statement saying the CDC is “ill advised” to promote Truvada, which is manufactured by Gilead, as an HIV prevention tool.

“This is a position I fear the CDC will come to regret,” stated Weinstein. “By recommending widespread use of PrEP for HIV prevention despite research studies amply chronicling the inability to take it as directed, and showing a limited preventive effect at best, the CDC has abandoned a science-driven, public health approach to disease prevention – a move that will likely have catastrophic consequences in the fight against AIDS in this country.”

San Francisco health officials, however, have long embraced use of PrEP. The city was one of the first in the nation to test the drug and offer it to sexually active HIV negative gay and bisexual men.

In addition to the guidelines the CDC issued today is a supplement that includes checklists and interview guides to assist clinicians with PrEP prescribing and counseling.

— Matthew S. Bajko, May 14, 2014 @ 11:56 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Man found guilty in Mission murder

Roland Pouncy (Photo: San Francisco Police Department)

Roland Pouncy (Photo: San Francisco Police Department)

A San Francisco jury found Roland Pouncy, 44, guilty of first-degree murder in the fatal 2012 strangling of Richard Sprague, 47, Friday (May 9).

Sprague’s body was found February 19, 2012 at 125 Julian Avenue, just blocks away from the Mission district home he’d shared with his domestic partner, David Nielsen.

Gayle Takashima, Sprague’s sister, let out a loud cry when the court clerk announced the verdict Friday. Pouncy was wide-eyed as he turned toward her but didn’t show any obvious reaction to the verdict.

Jurors weren’t available for comment after the session. Judge Donald Sullivan said they still needed to determine whether Pouncy was also guilty of robbery.

After court, Nielsen, said “Richard was the most gentle person I’ve ever     known. There’s no way he would have caused any problem with anybody.” He said he’d have more to say about the verdict at Pouncy’s sentencing, which hasn’t been set.

Takashima, who’s 53 and lives in Seattle, said, “My family is extremely gratified at the outcome.”

Richard Sprague (Photo: David Nielsen)

Richard Sprague (Photo: David Nielsen)

During the three-day trial, Assistant District Attorney John Rowland cited DNA that was linked to Pouncy and that had come from Sprague’s neck as being among the key evidence in the case.

In his testimony last week, Pouncy acknowledged having Sprague’s debit card with him when he was arrested hours after Sprague was killed, but he said he’d seen Sprague’s body lying on the sidewalk and felt for his pulse before taking the card.

Deputy Public Defender Stephen Rosen declined to comment immediately.

The Bay Area Reporter will have more on this story in the Thursday, May 15 edition.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 9, 2014 @ 1:35 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Ammiano: California ban on using condoms as evidence of prostitution won’t happen

Legislators in New York may make that state the first to ban using condoms as evidence of prostitution, while there’s no hope for a similar bill in California.

Advocates are “optimistic” that New York state senators will pass the proposal, according to the Associated Press, which suggested a vote could come soon. The Assembly already passed the bill.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano(Photo: Rick Gerharter)

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano(Photo: Rick Gerharter)

But in California, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) is conceding Assembly Bill 336, which he introduced more than a year ago, won’t make it. The last movement on AB 336 was in June, when Ammiano’s request to cancel a committee hearing on the bill, which had already been gutted, was granted.

“We found out late that, because of a technicality, it would require a two-thirds vote,” Ammiano said in a statement to the Bay Area Reporter Friday (May 2). “Having to get 54 votes, it wasn’t going to happen. Even though there’s a clear public health issue, there was opposition from groups like the [District Attorney’s] Association. Too many legislators are going to be nervous about voting for something involving sex workers in opposition to law enforcement. It’s not actually dead, but will probably not move forward. We’re still supporting any chances to broaden condom use. … We know they can save lives.”

Ammiano referred to AB 640, by Assemblyman Isadore Hall III (D-Los Angeles), which would require that condoms be used while making porn,      and AB 966, by Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), which would make condoms available in state prisons.

Sex worker advocates, public health officials, and others have expressed concerns that using condoms as evidence of prostitution discourages people from carrying them, thereby putting them at greater risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Citing public health and other concerns, and following the B.A.R.’s coverage of the issue, San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr and Public Defender Jeff Adachi said in 2012 that using condoms as evidence of prostitution should be permanently banned.

District Attorney George Gascón agreed to the ban last year, after taking months to examine the issue. Local prosecutors had only rarely used condoms as evidence, according to Alex Bastian, Gascón’s spokesman.

The DA’s Association laid out its opposition to the original version of AB 336 in a letter that said, in part, “We understand the public health concern generated by prostitutes engaging in unprotected sex,” but “we must oppose this measure because it is more appropriate for courts and court officers to determine the admissibility of evidence.”

After the bill was amended to make it more complicated to use condoms as evidence, rather than have an outright ban, the association submitted another letter. Among other complaints, the second letter said that Ammiano’s proposal “would create a burdensome process” for prosecutors.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 2, 2014 @ 4:59 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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