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

Man beaten, robbed in Castro

A man was beaten and robbed Thursday night in San Francisco’s Castro district.

The August 27 incident started at 10:45 when a fight erupted in front of the victim, who’d been waiting at a bus stop at 18th and Castro streets.

After the victim, 31, helped stop the fight, the three suspects “ganged up” on him, punched him, and stole his silver necklace, Officer Albie Esparza, a police spokesman, said in a summary.

The suspects were described as two white males and a white female, ages 19 to 20.

The victim was left with a swollen eye.

Anyone with information about the case may contact the police anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or text-a-tip to TIP411 with SFPD at the start of the message. The incident number is 150752858.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, August 28, 2015 @ 12:47 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Assault, two burglaries reported in Castro

Photo: Rick Gerharter

Photo: Rick Gerharter

A man was assaulted and two homes were burglarized in San Francisco’s Castro district in recent days.

The beating occurred Friday, August 21 around 10:30 to 10:50 p.m. at 18th and Douglass streets.

The suspect approached the victim, who had just left a bar, and punched him in the head.

The victim, 41, fell “and continued to be assaulted,” Officer Albie Esparza, a police spokesman, said in a summary. The suspect then fled the scene.

No description of the suspect was available.

The victim was left with bruising to the face and a laceration to the eye. He declined to be taken to the hospital. Nothing was taken in the incident.

The most recent burglary occurred at 10:56 p.m. Tuesday, August 25 in the 500 block of Sanchez Street.

The suspect entered the premises while the male victims, who are 55 and 50 years old, were home. The suspect “kicked in two locked doors, destroyed the house alarm system and system panel, and shattered a glass door panel,” Esparza said. The suspect, described only as a white man in his 30s, then fled.

Another Castro burglary occurred sometime between 10:30 p.m. Sunday, August 23 and 8:30 a.m. Monday, August 24 in the 4000 block of 18th Street.

In that incident, a 25-year-old man woke up to find that his computer, bike, and gym bag had been stolen as he slept. No suspect description was available.

Anyone with information about the cases may contact the police anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or text-a-tip to TIP411 with SFPD at the start of the message. The incident numbers are: 150732747 for the assault, 150745916 for the burglary on Sanchez, and 150740615 for the burglary on 18th.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, August 27, 2015 @ 11:45 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Higgins’ death ruled a homicide

Bryan "Feather" Higgins

Bryan “Feather” Higgins

The death of Bryan “Feather” Higgins, 31, a gay San Francisco man attacked just over one year ago, has been ruled a homicide, the Bay Area Reporter learned this morning (Friday, August 21) from the medical examiner’s office.

The agency’s report on Higgins’ death says lists the method of death as “assault,” and the cause as “complications of ruptured cerebral artery aneurysm,” with “physical altercation” noted by other conditions. The report is dated August 19 and was made available for the first time today.

Police have identified a person of interest in the case, but a department spokesman has indicated investigators had been waiting for the medical examiner to decide whether it was a homicide before pursuing the man. Police spokespeople didn’t immediately respond to emailed questions today.

[Update Friday, August 21]: Officer Albie Esparza, a police spokesman, said in an email, “The investigation portion remains the same. Homicide has handled this case since it occurred,” and the case remains “open and active.” [End update]

Higgins was punched outside 100 Church Street, across from the Castro district Safeway, August 10, 2014, according to a witness. Higgins died three days later at San Francisco General Hospital after his family had him taken off life support.

The medical examiner’s report says, “The most likely cause of the aneurysmal rupture is a blow to the left side of the head. If the aneurysm was pre-existing, a blow to the head may have caused the rupture, or the effects of being in a fight with concomitant rise in blood pressure and stress may have cause the aneurysm to burst.”

The report also notes that when Higgins was examined at the scene, he had “no visible trauma, bleeding, or deformity anywhere on his body. No head injury was noted,” and there was “[n]o injury to his mouth or bleeding from his ears.”

Brian Busta, 51, a friend and neighbor of Higgins’, has said that hours before he was attacked, Higgins had been dealing with “medical issues” and behaving erratically.

John Stone, who saw Higgins being attacked, said he’d been antagonizing people who were waiting in line for breakfast at a nearby church. A man from the line told Higgins to stop and eventually followed him into the street, then punched him repeatedly and left him lying on the sidewalk.

Soon after Higgins died, police released a video that they say shows a man chasing after him and starting to assault him.

Several months ago, a source told the B.A.R. the name of the man he believes hit Higgins.

In an email exchange earlier this year, Esparza confirmed that the man is a “person of interest” in the case but expressed concern that naming the man might compromise the investigation. The man is “not a suspect,” said Esparza.

“We are waiting still on the results of the medical examiner’s autopsy to see if it’s a homicide,” he said. “We have to wait for the cause officially.”

Facebook photos of the man identified as a person of interest appear to match the man in the video footage.

The toxicology report released today says that Higgins had marijuana in his system, but no other drugs besides caffeine and nicotine.

Higgins was part of the Radical Faerie community and was also known as Feather Lynn.

Jerry Deal, 39, a friend of Higgins’, said shortly after his death, “He was the kindest, gentlest, freest spirit I’ve ever met, and I’ve been blessed to have amazing friends.”

In an interview earlier this month, Busta said, “We’re all missing him. It was just a hard thing for the whole neighborhood. Then, that it’s not solved … It leaves you with an empty feeling.”

Esparza asks that anyone with information about suspect or other details in the case contact the police anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or text-a-tip to TIP411 with SFPD at the start of the message. The police report number is 140 665 807.

The B.A.R. will have more on this story in the Thursday, August 27 edition.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, August 21, 2015 @ 8:18 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Man held in Castro stabbing

Michael Gomez, a.k.a. Michael Adams

Michael Gomez, a.k.a. Michael Adams. Photo: Courtesy SFPD

A San Francisco man is in custody after he allegedly stabbed another man in the Castro district last weekend.

Michael Gomez, 35, of San Francisco, was arrested Sunday morning, August 15 after a man was stabbed and a woman was punched in the 400 block of Castro Street, according to Officer Albie Esparza, a police spokesman.

The incident occurred at 3 a.m. Sunday when the woman, 22, saw the suspect arguing with a 27-year-old man. The woman stepped into the middle of the argument and the suspect punched her in the nose. He then took out a knife and stabbed the man “several times,” Esparza said.

When the two victims chased the suspect, who’d taken off on foot, he again punched the woman in the nose. The man suffered non-life threatening lacerations to his arm and bicep, and he was taken to Davies Medical Center. No injuries were listed for the woman.

Esparza said police arrested Gomez, who’s also known as Michael Adams, and booked him into custody on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault, battery, and parole violation.

A clerk at the public defender’s office said today (Wednesday, August 19) that the case against Gomez had been dismissed. She didn’t have any information explaining why. One possibility is that his probation is being revoked and prosecutors don’t plan to file formal charges. A spokesman for the district attorney’s office didn’t immediately respond to a text message today.

[Update Thursday, August 20] DA spokesman Alex Bastian said Gomez’s case was referred to the parole department.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, August 19, 2015 @ 3:06 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Gay SF City College trustee secures Democratic Party endorsement

City College Trustee Alex Randolph

City College Trustee Alex Randolph

Gay San Francisco City College Trustee Alex Randolph has secured the local Democratic Party’s endorsement in his race to keep his seat this fall.

Randolph, who was tapped by Mayor Ed Lee in April to fill a vacancy, is running to finish out the remainder of the term, which expires in 2016. Opposing him are gay nightlife promoter Thomas Temprano, a co-owner of Mission bar Virgil’s Sea Room, and Wendy Aragon, who works in the construction industry and last year unsuccessfully vied for a seat on the community college district board. A fourth candidate, Jason Zeng, also filed to run by the August 7 deadline to do so with elections officials.

The more moderate Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club is also backing Randolph, who served on its board, while the progressive Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club has endorsed Temprano, its former president. As the Political Notebook in today’s Bay Area Reporter noted, Aragon has the support of a number of local unions and this week picked up the endorsement of the San Francisco Labor Council.

The down ticket contest for city college board is one of three on the November 3 ballot seen as highly competitive races. The other two being the elections for sheriff and the supervisor of District 3, which covers North Beach and Chinatown.

At its meeting last night (Wednesday, August 12), the Democratic County Central Committee, which votes on the local party’s endorsements, also backed the more moderate candidates in those races.

The current holder of the District 3 seat, Supervisor Julie Christensen, who was appointed to fill a vacancy by Lee earlier this year, won the DCCC’s backing in her race against former District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who had served as board president and is a leading progressive voice in city politics.

Wilma Pang, who last ran for the seat in 2012, is once again in the running this year. But most of the focus on the race has been the match-up between Christensen and Peskin.

In the sheriff’s race it was the incumbent, former Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who came up short last night. The DCCC threw its support behind Vicki Hennessy, who briefly served as interim sheriff four years ago after Lee suspended Mirkarimi due to his being charged with domestic violence following a fight he had with his wife, Eliana Lopez.

Mirkarimi ended up pleading guilty to a misdemeanor and agreed to undergo counseling and serve three years of probation. He escaped being officially removed from office when four Board of Supervisors members voted in October of 2012 not to sustain Lee’s official misconduct charges against the sheriff.

He was re-instated to the post, and this spring, had his false-imprisonment conviction expunged from his record. But the scandal has continued to engulf the sheriff and his allies ever since.

And his tenure has been beset by a series of missteps and controversies that have the beleaguered sheriff fighting for his political life. John C. Robinson, a retired sheriff’s deputy who now owns a private security company, is also in the race.

— Matthew S. Bajko, August 13, 2015 @ 11:30 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Giuliano to leave SF AIDS Foundation

SF AIDS Foundation CEO Neil Giuliano. Photo: Rick Gerharter

SF AIDS Foundation CEO Neil Giuliano. Photo: Rick Gerharter

San Francisco AIDS Foundation CEO Neil Giuliano plans to leave the nonprofit by the end of the year, the group announced today (Thursday, August 15).

Giuliano, who joined the AIDS foundation almost five years ago, said in a news release, “The time feels right for a transition at the foundation, allowing the board time to identify a successor who can continue to build on the momentum we’ve established over the past five years. I have been fortunate to lead this agency through a time of unprecedented growth. Together, we dramatically expanded our free services for prevention and care, launched a $15 million multi-year major fundraising campaign poised to go public following a very successful quiet phase, and established a groundbreaking new model of care for gay and bi men [at 470 Castro Street] set to open in October.”

With a budget of almost $24 million, the AIDS Foundation, which was founded in 1982, is the largest AIDS-related nonprofit in the city.

“During his tenure, Neil provided strong direction and leadership for the agency,” AIDS foundation board Chair Michael Kidd stated. “He leaves the foundation more focused, effective and secure, and we’re grateful for his years of service. We especially appreciate Neil’s early notification of his departure later this year, allowing us to embark on a thoughtful and planned leadership transition for the agency.”

The board has started the process of appointing a search committee to help find a successor to Giuliano. The news release doesn’t say when Giuliano told the board of his decision to leave.

Giuliano started as CEO in December 2010, when the foundation had 88 employees and a budget of $19 million. The increases in the staff size and budget follow “an internal restructuring to expand HIV testing services, linkage to care, and prevention program outreach to new populations,” the AIDS foundation said.

During Giuliano’s tenure, the board has also grown from seven members to 23 members.

“Our size reflects our commitment to the community to provide HIV/AIDS direct services and prevention programs to enable San Francisco to be the first city to end HIV transmission,” Giuliano said. “It’s a large responsibility, and with tremendous support from the community and our many partners, I am more confident than ever that we will see San Francisco be the first city to end HIV transmission. To have played even a small role in helping bring that about has been a tremendous honor.”

The nonprofit’s growth since Giuliano was hired stems in part from the success of the AIDS/Life Cycle, the annual bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles that raises money for the AIDS foundation and L.A.’s LGBT Center. The ride, which is the AIDS foundation’s biggest source of privately-raised revenue, has seen record-breaking amounts each of the last four years. This summer’s event brought in $16.3 million.

Expansion of free services since 2010 have included the merger with the Stop AIDS Project and the creation of the DREAAM Project (Determined to Respect and Encourage African American Men), the Fifty-Plus Network, and TransLife.

The AIDS foundation became the fiscal sponsor of the Castro Country Club, which hosts 12-step groups, in 2013.

The agency also helped lead the introduction of pre-exposure prophylaxis, launching and establishing what’s expected to become the world’s largest PrEP clinic.

The treatment involves taking the pill Truvada once a day. The regimen has been shown to be effective at reducing HIV infection rates if used as prescribed.

Along with the successes, however, the nonprofit has seen some trouble in recent years, including long delays to open the men’s health center on Castro Street.

The AIDS foundation announced its plans in October 2012 to merge its Magnet health center; the Stonewall Project, which provides drug counseling programs; and the Stop AIDS Project, which focuses on HIV prevention, into 470 Castro. The group had hoped to move into the space in October 2013.

From the outside, the building, which used to house a video store and office space, has looked finished for months. In a June interview, Giuliano said he didn’t know when the center would open or what the total cost would be.

“It’s not done, but we’re making good progress,” he said. “… The community is going to be really, really well served.”

Giuliano suggested the slow movement has been related to other development going on.

There’s “a lot of construction going on in the community, and ours is one,” he said.

AIDS foundation staff have previously talked about getting licensing for the facility as another factor in the timeline. Asked about that, Giuliano said there have been “different kinds of delays.” There’s “no one reason,” he said, but “a combination of a lot of different things.”

Also, as the Bay Area Reporter noted in a June story, a senior essay by a recent Yale graduate blasted the nonprofit, questioning its spending millions of dollars to establish the health center and indicating that many staffers feel dismissed by the nonprofit’s leadership team.

Giuliano indicated the essay was heavily flawed but confirmed that Daniel Dangaran, the author, had spent weeks at the agency. He offered little in the way of corrections and acknowledged there have been problems at his organization.

“Any time you’re working with a diverse group of people in an often tough service delivery kind of work, you’re going to fall short of meeting people’s expectations from time to time,” Giuliano said. “We understand that, and we always strive to do a better job.”

The organization has completed a five-year strategic planning process with the board that sets goals for 2020. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California State Office of AIDS have awarded significant multi-year HIV prevention grants for the AIDS foundation’s plan.

The B.A.R. will have more on Giuliano’s departure in the Thursday, August 20 edition of the paper.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 10:25 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

American Psychological Association releases trans-supportive guidelines

The American Psychological Association recently adopted guidelines encouraging psychologists working with transgender and gender nonconforming people to be accepting, supportive, and understanding “without making assumptions about their clients’ gender identities or gender expressions,” the organization announced in a recent news release.

The “Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People” were adopted by an APA council in early August. They follow a 2009 survey that found under 30 percent of psychologist and graduate student respondents knew about issues faced by transgender and gender nonconforming people.

Lore M. Dickey. Photo: The Jim Collins Foundation.

Lore M. Dickey. Photo: The Jim Collins Foundation.

“These guidelines are especially timely in light of the media coverage of recent completed suicides by transgender teens and murders across the country of transgender people, especially people of color. In contrast, we have also seen coverage of high-profile transitions, including Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox of Orange is the New Black,” the APA’s Lore M. Dickey said in the August 6 news release. “While these guidelines are aimed at psychologists who provide care, conduct research or engage in education or training focused on transgender and gender nonconforming people, we believe they will also be useful to any psychologist or educator.”

The document includes 16 guidelines meant to help professionals better understand stigma, discrimination, barriers to care, and other challenges.

Among other guidelines, one explains the concept of gender going beyond male and female, and how people can “experience a range of gender identities that don’t align with their sex assigned at birth,” the APA news release says.

The developmental needs of youth who are questioning their gender are also included.

Tiffany Woods, coordinator of the TransVision program at the Fremont-based Tri-City Health Center, said in an email to the Bay Area Reporter, “The adoption of much needed and necessary guidelines by the APA should help in removing the prevalent stigma and trauma that transgender and gender nonconforming people have historically experienced when seeking gender affirming mental/behavioral health treatment and services. Untrained and judgmental psychologists have traditionally been a minefield of gatekeepers and barriers for transgender and gender nonconforming individuals and communities in seeking lifesaving counseling, guidance, and access to medically necessary procedures.”

Jennifer Orthwein, senior counsel for the Oakland-based Transgender Law Center’s Detention Project, stated, “The long-awaited [guidelines] will serve as a much-needed guide to practitioners, most of whom have had very little education or training on the subject of gender, gender identity and/or gender expression. Currently, graduate programs in psychology are not required to include this subject matter in their curriculums, which has resulted in less than a third of psychologists being familiar with this population’s experiences or best practices when treatment is necessary. … Hopefully, these new guidelines will be the impetus for accreditation standards that require graduate programs to include this subject-matter in their programs.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, August 12, 2015 @ 2:55 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

EuroGames missteps leave athletes frustrated

Track and field competitors in the 2015 EuroGames being held in Stockholm, Sweden knew on the eve of the event that they would not be happy with several of the decisions made by EuroGames organizers. (See August 6 JockTalk.) Athletes in other disciplines, however, were caught off guard by last-minute schedule announcements, venue changes, and event cancellations that triggered a barrage of complaints on EuroGames Facebook pages and elicited an apology for the event’s president.

(Volleyball competition at the EuroGames was delayed and the venue changed, frustrating many participants. Photo: Courtesy EuroGames 2015)

(Volleyball competition at the EuroGames was delayed and the venue changed, frustrating many participants. Photo: Courtesy EuroGames 2015)

“From myself, the board and the whole team behind EuroGames Stockholm 2015, we would like to hugely and truly apologize for canceling the triathlon, the venue/schedule change for volleyball, unclear communication for track and field, and the schedule changes for swimming,” Jakob Jansson, president of the Stockholm EuroGames, wrote athletes and spectators Friday, August 7. “We will try our very best to change and improve all situations and fight day and night to make the best out of all single situations. Of course, none of this has happened on purpose. With years of planning, assistance from experts and national sport federations this should not have happen[ed] and we recognize and respect all feedback and complaints. We take full responsibility and will try to solve every single situation so that you can compete and engage in EuroGames Stockholm 2015.”

Jansson went on to write, “Our intention and goal has been to organize the best EuroGames ever and we have listened to your thought and criticism, but also your positive feedback, to create an amazing game. We are deeply sorry for the lack of communication, information on short notice, and the problems we’ve might put you under. This hasn’t been our intention.”

Although some sports ran smoothly and the San Francisco Spikes reported having a very positive tournament experience, event Facebook pages were blowing up this week with comments from outraged participants. The 2015 EuroGames were scheduled to have 27 sports, but roller derby was canceled because of poor registration numbers even before the games began, and at 11 p.m. Thursday, August 6 Stockholm time, just hours after the opening ceremonies, organizers announced the cancelation of the triathlon competition, citing an algae bloom that made the water unfit for swimming, and unsafe road conditions for the cycling portion.

In addition to complaints of mismanagement of the schedules in swimming and track and field, as well as the tardiness of organizers in releasing the schedules, there were allegations of badly organized events in several other sports.

The start of volleyball had to be delayed and the location changed because of venue problems, organizers said. Badminton and squash schedules were changed after players complained there were no round robin matches and not enough matches overall. When the badminton schedule was redrawn, many competitors noted their names had been accidentally dropped.

France’s Giampiero Mancinelli, organizer of the Gay and Lesbian International Track and Field Association, wrote a formal letter of protest to the city of Stockholm and local TV and radio stations.

“Stockholm’s image might be damaged forever to the eyes of the LGBT world community, after the worst organization ever of the EuroGames 2015,” Mancinelli wrote. “Not only have the local organizers been manifestly incompetents on the sport side. But they have also been manifestly disrespectful of the athletes and participants … lying directly to their faces and ignoring (and even censoring on Facebook) any question or suggestion from official and unofficial LGBT organizations. The cancelation of the triathlon a few hours before the scheduled start, the cancelation of at least the first day of competition in volleyball, the dismal organization of the swimming and track and field (though in beautiful venues) are some of the results. Rumors of problems in badminton, tennis, and football have also come to my ears. Stockholm might have very well killed the EuroGames. A shame! Only a miracle, and a refund of not only the participants’ fees but also, for the triathlon, of their hotel and transportation would make things bearable. In any case a real shame for a country where sports are deemed to be so important.”

Numerous organizations and athletes, some of whom have traveled from as far as Australia, are demanding refunds of registration fees and bicycle rentals. A EuroGames Stockholm Critic Facebook page has been sent up where athletes are venting their frustrations.

The San Francisco Spikes, however, reported having a favorable time in Stockholm.

“The San Francisco Spikes Soccer Club brought together local and international Spikes’ members from five countries to this year’s Stockholm EuroGames,” Trey Allen, club president, wrote the Bay Area Reporter. “The organizing body emailed frequent updates, a Facebook page was created for the futbol competition, transportation logistics mapped and signs posted between the metro stop and futbol facility. The organizing was simply perfect! The opening ceremony corralled each country along historic pedestrian streets before marching us before hundreds of applauding friends, family, and Swedes to the tech savvy performance stage. There was a clear focus on the power of sport on culture and human rights. The positive nature of the event inspired us to strive for more than just wins, but equality around the world.”

Allen continued, “Organizers of these events went to great lengths to create a magical experience for each player and team and the SF Spikes Soccer Club is grateful for the many thankless hours that volunteers worked. The emphasis on controversy pails in comparison to the impact this event has in the area and on the players that will take this incredible moment with them to recreate clubs and teams in their hometowns. The SF Spikes are so impressed with the hard work and success of the Stockholm EuroGames, we are already considering the Helsinki EuroGames in 2016.”

– reported by Roger Brigham

— Cynthia Laird, August 7, 2015 @ 1:11 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Castro merchants approve ice cream shop

San Francisco’s Castro Merchants business group voted this morning (Thursday, August 6) to approve a proposed ice cream shop in the neighborhood.

Juliet Pries, a 15-year-Castro resident, said she hopes to open the Castro Fountain at 554 Castro Street by early 2016.

554 Castro Street is expected to house Castro Fountain. Photo:

554 Castro Street is expected to house Castro Fountain. Photo:

Pries, who’s straight and currently owns Ice Cream Bar, at 815 Cole Street in Cole Valley, told the merchants that the new spot would be a 30s-style soda fountain. The Castro space had been occupied by L’Occitane, a skincare store.

Pries acknowledged her ice cream isn’t cheap – a single scoop is $3.50 – but she said it’s organic and made by the shop.

Castro Fountain would also offer baked goods, but not alcohol. Pries estimated there would be room for 25 seats inside, and eight seats outside, if she gets permission from the city for outdoor seating.

Pries said her Cole business has become a neighborhood social spot, since it stays open until 10 p.m., later than coffee shops in the area. She sounded hopeful her new business would take on a similar role in the Castro.

Castro businessman Patrick Batt, whose shops include Eureka Café, at 451 Castro, frequently voices his displeasure with what’s going on in the neighborhood, and this morning was no exception.

Batt’s shop sells ice cream and is just a few doors down from where Castro Fountain would be, and he’s also been concerned about losing retail spaces. He noted that Pries would be changing what had been a retail spot to a limited restaurant use.

“Did you consider going to another limited restaurant?” before settling on the building at 554 Castro, he asked Pries. She indicated she hadn’t done an extensive search for limited-use restaurant spaces in the district, but she said she had reached out to owners of empty properties close to her new shop, and got no responses.

In the end, almost everyone in the room voted to support Pries’ endeavor. Batt, the only person to vote against the business, opposes it so strongly that he raised both hands in objection.

Pries doesn’t need to take her proposal to the city’s planning commission, since she’s not requesting any conditional use permits.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, August 6, 2015 @ 2:45 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Follow The Bay Area Reporter
Newsletter logo
twitter logo
facebook logo