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

Longtime gay SF Dem quits party after losing race

Arlo Hale Smith (Photo from

Arlo Hale Smith (Photo from

A longtime gay member of San Francisco’s Democratic Party resigned this week after losing his bid for a seat on the Democratic County Central Committee, which controls the local party and is also known as the D-triple-C.

In a letter he shared with the Bay Area Reporter Wednesday, Arlo Hale Smith, 61, said, “After 35 years of service to the Democratic Party on the SFDCCC, I have decided to leave the Democratic Party and have reregistered as ‘Decline To State’ effective today.”

Smith failed to win one of the 14 seats representing the 17th Assembly District on the DCCC in this week’s election. He got only 1.8 percent of the vote, putting him in 27th place.

Referring to Supervisor Aaron Peskin, a former chair of the local party who this week won back his seat on the committee, Smith said, “I refuse to be part of a political party that pursues anti-business policies, as the Peskin Machine does. Please do not bother me with requests for volunteer work or contributions for the Democratic Party in the future because my answer will be no.”

Smith also said he was quitting the Alice B. Toklas and Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic clubs.

“I no longer desire to associated with a far-left Democratic Party,” Smith wrote in his resignation letter.

In a phone interview, he expressed even more anger for Peskin.

“Peskin has taken over completely,” Smith said. “He is going to ruin the business climate in the city … The Peskin faction has retaken the Democratic committee. I’m not going to work with the Democratic Party if they’re engaging in a socialist, anti-business direction, and that’s where it’s headed.”

Asked about Smith’s comments, Peskin replied in an email, “It’s beneath me to respond to crazy rants.”

In 2015, Smith resigned from his DCCC seat representing the 19th Assembly District. He’d moved into the 17th Assembly District to live with his fiancé Phil Cortland.

“I served on it for 35 years; I know more than anyone there,” Smith told the B.A.R. in March.

Smith also wrote in his letter that he now plans to vote for Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson.

“I think Donald Trump is mentally unfit to be President and that Hillary has abandoned the moderate Democratic policies of her husband and President Obama,” wrote Smith.

In an email to the B.A.R., Brian Leubitz, the Toklas club’s president, wrote, “While we are sorry that an activist with Mr. Smith’s long record of service has decided to leave the party, the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club is entirely committed to ensuring that our well-qualified Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, is our next president and that we avoid the nightmare scenario of a Trump presidency.”

The Harvey Milk club didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, June 9, 2016 @ 3:58 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Peaches announced as SF Pride headliner



The singer Peaches, perhaps best known for her song “Fuck the Pain Away,” will headline the main stage at this year’s San Francisco LGBT Pride celebration, organizers announced today (Wednesday, June 8).

“As an artist, Peaches is truly inspirational in her approach to gender and sexual identity, and we are so excited to have her headline this year’s celebration,” said George Ridgely, SF Pride’s executive director, in his group’s announcement.

Peaches, who’s touring to support her latest album, “Rub,” will appear Sunday, June 26, the second day of the festival. SF Pride describes her style as a mix of “electroclash, punk, alternative hip hop, and synthpop.”

Other main stage performers will include former Pussycat Doll Jessica Sutta and international DJ Hector Fonseca, among many others.

Organizers also announced several speakers who will address this year’s theme, “For Racial and Economic Justice.” They include Kara Zordel, executive director of Project Homeless Connect; Bishop Yvette Flunder, founder of the City of Refuge United Church in Christ and The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries; and trans advocate Clair Farley, director of Economic Development at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center.

The final line-up will be announced soon at

Pride works to keep celebration on track

Pride organizers, who are fighting lawsuits from several men injured during shootings associated with previous festivals, are working to ensure this year’s celebration can even happen.

Plaintiffs in the most recent lawsuits say SF Pride hasn’t done enough to ensure safety, and they’re seeking an injunction that would prevent the festival from happening this year unless several changes are made, including moving the party from its Civic Center location. The parade would still be allowed to continue.

A judge has order Pride officials to explain at a June 16 hearing why they shouldn’t have to make the changes, which were recommended by the San Francisco Police Department.

In court documents filed June 3, attorneys for SF Pride said, “The requested preliminary injunction would either prohibit [the] defendant from holding its 46th annual SF Pride celebration on June 25 and 26, 2016, on the one hand, or would require so many changes to the manner in which the 46th annual Pride celebration could be held so as to render the holding of the event impossible, on the other hand.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, June 8, 2016 @ 1:15 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Application period for SF LGBT senior housing project opens June 8

A rendering of Openhouse's planned senior apartments at 55 Laguna Street. Photo: Van Meter Williams Pollack architects

A rendering of Openhouse’s under construction senior apartments at 55 Laguna Street. Photo: Van Meter Williams Pollack architects

Seniors interested in living in San Francisco’s first affordable housing development aimed for LGBT seniors will have eight days to turn in their applications to do so starting on June 8.

And in a significant change from what had been announced earlier this year, it is unlikely any seniors not currently residing or working in San Francisco will be moving in.

As expected, however, the period to turn in applications for what is known as the 55 Laguna project has been truncated from the normal month-long window. It will start next Wednesday and end the following Thursday, June 16.

In order for applications to be accepted, they must either be postmarked on that date or turned in by 5 p.m. that day.

The applications will be available to be picked up in person at the Francis of Assisi Community Senior Center at 145 Guerrero Street. The site is also where the applications will need to be returned to by June 16.

Applications will also be able to be downloaded from the website of Openhouse, the LGBT senior services agency located in San Francisco.

Any senior, whether LGBT or straight, at least 55 years of age and meets the income requirements can apply. A random drawing lottery will be held at 10 a.m. July 7 at Francis of Assisi to select up to 400 applicants to be placed on a waiting list for the units in the order their names are pulled.

Openhouse is working with Mercy Housing California, which develops below-market-rate housing, to build what will be a $40 million two-building campus of 159 apartments at the corner of Laguna and Hermann just off Market Street and a block away from the LGBT Community Center.

The first phase, set to open in September, will feature 39 pet-friendly rental units built inside Richardson Hall, whose address is 55 Laguna. An additional unit will be designated for an on-site resident manager, while eight of the units are designated for people living with HIV at risk for homelessness.

And 16 of the units will be available to seniors who live in District 8 due to a rule the city adopted that sets aside 40 percent of the units in new affordable housing developments for people who live in the supervisorial district the project is located in, or within a half mile of the site.

As for the remaining 15 units, seniors who live or work in San Francisco will now be given preference for them. It is a marked policy change from what Openhouse had announced in April, when the agency’s former executive director Seth Kilbourn told the Bay Area Reporter he had rejected implying such a preference since many LGBT seniors in recent years have left the city either due to being evicted or priced out of their housing.

According to a flier Openhouse shared with the B.A.R., households that submit acceptable documentation that at least one member lives or works in San Francisco will be given the fourth highest preference in the lottery ranking process.

“If the number of units available exceeds the number of qualified applicants in the above listed preference, the units will become available to other qualified applicants outside of San Francisco,” states the flier.

The flier also states that first preference will be given to people who have a Certificate of Preference from San Francisco’s former Redevelopment Agency.

Second highest preference will be given to people who have a Displaced Tenant Housing Preference Certificate from the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, as eight units have been set aside for such applicants.

Third highest preference will go to applicants who meet the neighborhood resident housing preference for the 16 units set aside for people who live in District 8 or within a half-mile of Richardson Hall.

Rents for studios will be $943 a month, one bedrooms will range from $922 to $1,078, with two bedrooms priced $1,107 to $1,213, according to Openhouse. The income limits will range from $37,700 for a single person living in a studio up to $58,150 for a five-person household in a two-bedroom unit.

The second phase of the project, expected to break ground next year, will see 119 units of affordable senior housing be built on what is now a surface parking lot. The age limit for seniors able to apply will rise to 62 due to a change in policy attached to the financing for the building, which will have an address of 95 Laguna.

One unit will be given to a resident manager and 14 will be designated for people living with HIV or AIDS at risk of homelessness. The lottery to select residents for those units should take place sometime in 2018.

Openhouse is hosting a community information meeting about the applications and lottery process for 55 Laguna from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 9 at Francis of Assisi.

— Matthew S. Bajko, June 3, 2016 @ 1:52 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Gov. Brown, Obama declare June as Pride Month

President Barack Obama and California Governor Jerry Brown this week issued proclamations declaring June as Pride Month.

(Governor Jerry Brown. Photo: Rick Gerharter)

(Governor Jerry Brown. Photo: Rick Gerharter)

Brown issued his proclamation Thursday (June 2), saying that the state has been a “leader in advancing the civil rights of its LGBT citizens.”

“And while further progress is needed, it is important to recognize and celebrate the substantial gains that have been achieved.”

Brown’s proclamation states, “Our nation was founded on the principle of equal rights for all people, but the fulfillment of this promise has been long in coming for many Americans. Some of the most inspiring moments in our history have brought one group after another from the margins to the mainstream of American society.”

The governor noted that the LGBT community’s “historic turning point” occurred on June 28, 1969, in New York City, with the onset of the Stonewall riots. Patrons at the Greenwich Village gay bar “rose up and resisted police harassment that arose out of discriminatory criminal laws that have since been declared unconstitutional.”

“In the four decades since, civil rights for LGBT people have grown substantially, and LGBT Pride celebrations have taken place around the country every June to commemorate the beginning of the Stonewall riots,” the governor’s proclamation stated.

On May 31, Obama issued his annual Pride proclamation, which mentioned last year’s historic U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage.

“Last year’s landmark Supreme Court decision guaranteeing marriage equality in all 50 states was a historic victory for LGBT Americans, ensuring dignity for same-sex couples and greater equality across state lines,” Obama stated. “For every partnership that was not previously recognized under the law and for every American who was denied their basic civil rights, this monumental ruling instilled newfound hope, affirming the belief that we are all more free when we are treated as equals.”

The president also noted that LGBTs continue to face discrimination.

“Despite the extraordinary progress of the past few years, LGBT Americans still face discrimination simply for being who they are,” Obama stated. “I signed an Executive Order in 2014 that prohibits discrimination against federal employees and contractors on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. I urge the Congress to enact legislation that builds upon the progress we have made, because no one should live in fear of losing their job simply because of who they are or who they love.”

— Cynthia Laird, June 2, 2016 @ 2:26 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

SF Republicans elect gay man as first out chair

SF GOP Chair Jason Clark

SF GOP Chair Jason Clark

Republicans in San Francisco have elected their first openly LGBT chair of the local party.

At its meeting Wednesday night, the San Francisco Republican County Central Committee voted to install Jason P. Clark as its new chairman. Clark, who is gay, succeeds former chair Christine Hughes.

“I am deeply honored to have been elected to represent the over 37,000 Republicans in San Francisco. As chairman, I look forward to engaging our voters during this exciting election year,” Clark, a project manager at San Francisco-based Consilio, LLC, told the Bay Area Reporter.

Clark, 35, is a southern California native who moved to the Bay Area in 1999 to attend UC Berkeley, where he earned a B.A. in political science. He earned his law degree from the University of San Francisco’s law school and at one time had a solo practice.

Since 2011 he has been a member of the GOP central committee, at one point serving as the local party’s volunteer general counsel. Most recently Clark had been serving as the first vice-chair of the local Republican Party’s executive committee.

He has also been a longtime member of the gay Log Cabin Republican political club, and in 2012 he ran against openly gay state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) for his legislative seat.

While he is the first LGBT person to lead the San Francisco Republican Party, there have been LGBT chairs in other counties throughout the state. One of the first gay men to be elected as a county chair was Paul Cummings in Alameda.

Currently the appointed vice chair of the California Republican Party Volunteer Organizations Committee, Cummings has been a member of his local county committee since 2003 and is seeking re-election to his seat in next Tuesday’s primary.

Clark is also seeking re-election next week to his seat on the SF Republican county committee. His term as chair expires December 31 of this year, and thus, Clark will need to seek re-election in early 2017 at the committee’s organizational meeting in January when the central committee members elected in the June 7 primary take their seats for four-year terms that officially begin on January 1.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 1:25 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Beatbox club to close

1175325_648650545153154_2050659917_nSan Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood is losing another gay bar.

Owners of Beatbox, at 314 11th Street, announced this week that is closing July 3.

In an interview today (Wednesday, June 1), co-owner and general manager Brian Kent said the liquor license, the lease, and “everything that comes along with it” have been sold to new owners, who will shut the space down and do “major” renovations before reopening as a different business.

Kent declined to say much about the buyers since the deal is still in escrow.

“They’re LGBT-friendly, but they’re not in our community,” he said.

The club’s May 31 announcement says, “Beatbox owners Brian Kent, Paul Saccone, and Andy Zivic have been active members in the community, turning Beatbox into a safe, clean, fun space for LGBT people and their friends. Over the last five years, Beatbox has been home to countless dance parties, stage productions, comedy shows, cabaret performances, roasts, wedding receptions, memorials, fundraisers, contests, corporate events, and much more.”

Kent said selling Beatbox is “a difficult decision and emotional one.” He and his partners have had “many offers” over the years, but “we weren’t ready, and it wasn’t the right time.”

Recently, though, “Everything fell into place with the timing,” he said. “As emotional as it is, it’s the right decision right now.”

Kent added that “business has been great,” but “in this climate … it’s difficult to run a solely-LGBT nightclub.”

He said the bar’s had to expand its business to include corporate events with businesses like Adobe and Macy’s and other “non-LGBT events so we can stay open.”

When he and his partners looked at the offer they received, they decided they were “ready to move on and do other things with our lives as individuals,” said Kent, who said he couldn’t share how much the bar’s being sold for.

The state Alcohol and Beverage Control department’s website doesn’t include information on the new owners, but it does say that the state Board of Equalization put a hold on Beatbox’s liquor license in March.

Venus Stromberg, a BOE spokeswoman, said she couldn’t discuss Beatbox’s specific situation, but if a business “hasn’t paid its sales tax,” putting a hold on the liquor license is one way her agency has “of leveraging payment.”

ABC spokesman John Carr said that means “the liquor license privileges are on hold until the Board of Equalization issues have been resolved.”

Carr said their license hasn’t been suspended, so the bar can still sell alcohol, but “They just can’t transfer or sell their license unless this matter’s resolved,” he said.

Court records show that the club’s owners filed claims against two promoters in the past year because they failed to bring in the bar business they’d promised for different events.

The documents also say Beatbox was sued in May for not paying another company $665 for door repairs that were made last year.

Kent said “the bill had been paid,” and the case, which was dismissed today, had been erroneously filed.

He didn’t immediately respond to a follow-up call about his business’s tax issue.

[Update, Friday, June 3]: In an email, Kent said that Beatbox’s owners didn’t owe any taxes.

“It was a certificate of ownership change that needed to be filed and has been done,” he said. “The hold should be off by Monday,” June 6. [End update]

— Seth Hemmelgarn, June 1, 2016 @ 2:25 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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