Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

Man released from hospital after Castro incident

Thomas Castellani in photos posted to his Gofundme page

Thomas Castellani in photos posted to his Gofundme page

A gay man who was hospitalized after an incident that occurred when he left the Cafe bar in San Francisco’s Castro district Thursday said he doesn’t know what happened.

Thomas Castellani, 45, suffered injuries to his face shortly after he left the Cafe, where he’d been singing karaoke “shortly after midnight.”

Whatever occurred “happened so fast, I was just knocked unconscious,” Castellani, who’s a bouncer at the Castro’s Badlands bar, told the Bay Area Reporter. He was released from the hospital Friday.

He said, “I’ve been assaulted at work before,” but “I’m 6 foot 6. I’m not the type of guy you would normally walk up to and attack.”

Castellani also said he’d only had a two drinks before he left the bar.

“I try not to drink while I’m doing karaoke. I’m trying to build my confidence,” he said.

Castellani’s looking for people who witnessed the incident, and he’s planned to meet with police Tuesday afternoon so a report could be filed.

In a Gofundme fundraising pitch for Castellani, Julia DePetrillo, his sister, said he’d been “gay bashed and left bleeding” as he left work in San Francisco’s Castro district early Thursday morning.

Castellani “had to have emergency surgery to basically re-attach his fractured jaw to his skull as well as other unpleasant fractured and broken details,” DePetrillo wrote. As of Tuesday afternoon, $4,350 had been raised toward a $5,000 goal.

[Update August 17]: Officer Carlos Manfredi, a police spokesman, said Wednesday that the incident is not being investigated as a hate crime.

“No witnesses came forward and said the person who hit him made a derogatory statement,” Manfredi said.

A witness reported that Castellani was “struck with his own helmet,” he said.

No suspect description was available, but the incident occurred near Castro and 17th streets, which is close to the Café and Jane Warner Plaza, and police are looking for video surveillance footage that may have captured the incident.

Anyone with information in the cases 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 160 662 576 [End update].

Depetrillo included a post to Castellani’s Facebook page that said, “You can bash my face but you will not get my spirit, you can not take the love that has been given to me from all of you. I am unafraid I only feel blessings. I will heal and I will still be beautiful. You have done nothing but brought bad karma and the promise of a long stay in hell. Your hatred and evil have only wrapped me in so much love from all around me, you have only increased my spiritual wealth.”

The incident was first covered by Hoodline.

Depetrillo said on the Gofundme site that she started the fundraising effort because Castellani “would never ask for help from anyone so here I am, asking for him.”

“He had big plans for this year and has padded his work schedule for the past year to afford them and now is missing a ton of work because of someone’s violent hatred of him being his beautiful queer self,” she said.

Anyone who may have witnessed what occurred to Castellani may contact him directly at

— Seth Hemmelgarn, August 16, 2016 @ 1:19 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Navy secretary to oversee Milk ship naming ceremony in SF

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus will be in San Francisco Tuesday, August 16 to preside over the ship naming ceremony in honor of Harvey Milk.

According to a news release from the Harvey Milk Foundation, Mabus will announce during the ceremony that the second ship of the next generation of fleet replenishment oilers (T-AO 206) will be named the USNS Harvey Milk after the civil and human rights leader who became one of the first openly LGBT elected officials in the U.S. when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977.

(Harvey Milk in his Navy days. Photo: Courtesy GLBT Historic Task Force San Diego)

(Harvey Milk in his Navy days. Photo: Courtesy GLBT Historic Task Force San Diego)

Milk was assassinated a year later, in November 1978, by disgruntled ex-supervisor Dan White, who also killed then-Mayor George Moscone.

Milk served in the U.S. Navy and was on active duty during the Korean War. He trained as a deep-sea diver, and advanced to the rank of chief petty officer on the USS Kittiwake, according to a bio created by the organizers of the campaign to push for a USS Harvey Milk Navy vessel.

“Uncle Harvey knew that our individual actions of open authenticity would be the key to changing the lives of LGBT people everywhere,” said Stuart Milk, the gay nephew of Milk and co-founder of the foundation. “As a proud Navy veteran, Uncle Harvey was committed to public service, aided by courage, persistence, and the belief that our shared journey is enriched, and not weakened, by our diversity.”

Joining Mabus at the Treasure Island ceremony will be Mayor Ed Lee, and Kevin Faulconer, the mayor of San Diego, where the ship will be built. Other guests include Nancy Brinker, former U.S. ambassador to Hungary and a member of the Harvey Milk Foundation’s leadership and advisory board, and Anne Kronenberg, who was Milk’s campaign manager and political aide and a co-founder of the foundation.

The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus will also perform.

The ceremony takes place from 2 to 3 p.m. on the Great Lawn.

The Bay Area Reporter will have coverage of the ceremony in next week’s paper.

— Cynthia Laird, August 11, 2016 @ 3:49 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Lone Star gets legacy business status

The Lone Star's Tony Huerta (Photo: Facebook)

The Lone Star’s Tony Huerta (Photo: Facebook)

The Lone Star, the 30-year-old gay bar at 1354 Harrison Street, received legacy business status Monday after San Francisco’s Small Business Commission approved the move.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to join the legacy business registry,” Lone Star owner Tony Huerta said. “It’s something that I have worked on for a long time. I did it not only for the history of the Lone Star, but I did it for my staff and my customers and for other businesses like mine in San Francisco.”

Among other benefits, the legacy status means that the bar’s landlord could get grant money if he’s willing to grant a 10-year lease. The Lone Star’s building was recently sold but Huerta said his business partner is negotiating with the new landlord on a lease.

“Things are looking good,” he said. He couldn’t provide the new landlord’s full name.

The legacy business registry is the result of Proposition J, which was approved last November. It defined a legacy business as those that have operated for more than 20 years and that the Small Business Commission has found have significantly contributed to the history or identity of a particular neighborhood or community and would face a significant risk of displacement.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 12:09 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Maitri executive director announces retirement

Maitri Compassionate Care, which operates a hospice in the Duboce Triangle neighborhood, is searching for a new executive director after Michael Smithwick announced his retirement Friday.

(Maitri Executive Director Michael Smithwick. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

(Maitri Executive Director Michael Smithwick. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

According to an August 5 news release from the Milo Group, which represents Maitri, Smithwick, 60, informed the board of his decision to step down more than a year ago.

Maitri’s board will form an executive director transition team to start a search for Smithwick’s replacement, the release stated. Smithwick will stay on to work with whoever the agency hires to ensure a smooth transition.

The news release said that Smithwick, who has “been HIV-positive for most of his life, is looking forward to spending more time with his partner of 23 years and his aging parents.”

Gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener praised Smithwick’s leadership.

“Michael did a phenomenal job keeping Maitri strong and helping it adjust to a changing epidemic,” Wiener said in a text message. “He will be missed.”

Smithwick, who was hired in 2010, is credited with steadying the nonprofit in the aftermath of the Great Recession and “other structural issues,” board President Michael Niemeyer said in the release, adding that Smithwick “led a transformation of Maitri’s operations that created its current period of stability.”

That stability, however, has been tested in recent years after the AIDS Healthcare Foundation moved its thrift store out of the ground floor of the hospice amidst a legal battle over unpaid rent.

Maitri then endured harsh criticism earlier this year when it announced plans to lease the space to a sex offender rehab company, without giving nearby residents a heads up. That deal fell apart after a neighborhood uproar, and the space has remained vacant for over a year.

The Bay Area Reporter will have more on this story in next week’s paper.

— Cynthia Laird, August 5, 2016 @ 9:38 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Judge rejects SF Pride’s attempt to have lawsuit struck

A judge Wednesday denied the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee’s attempt to have a lawsuit against it struck.

Freddy Atton, a gay San Francisco man who was shot at the 2015 celebration, is suing SF Pride because of his injuries. Festival organizers have said that Atton is trying to clamp down on their free speech, among other arguments.

In his order Wednesday, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard Ulmer rejected that claim.

SF Pride “fails to show that plaintiff’s complaint implicates CCP 425.16,” Ulmer said, referring to state civil code that addresses free speech. Atton, the plaintiff, “alleges that defendant’s lack of security at its celebration caused his injuries from gun shots. Plaintiff is not basing liability on defendant’s constitutional free speech.”

Ulmer also denied Atton’s request for attorney’s fees.

In the weeks before this year’s parade and celebration June 25-26, Atton and his attorneys had sought to have the festival called off unless security measures including bag checks and metal detectors were implemented.

Pride organizers repeatedly rejected the idea, saying they wouldn’t be able to make such changes in such a short time span, among other claims. A judge sided with SF Pride and said the celebration could proceed.

But soon after Omar Mateen fatally shot 49 people and injured 53 others at Orlando, Florida’s gay Pulse nightclub June 12, SF Pride announced that it would add bag checks and metal detectors.

The security changes didn’t seem to cause problems for organizers or attendees, and no shootings or other major problems were reported at this year’s festival.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, August 4, 2016 @ 9:02 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Suspects sought in Castro robberies

Photo: Rick Gerharter

Photo: Rick Gerharter

San Francisco police are seeking suspects in two recent robberies in the city’s Castro district.

The latest incident occurred at 2:17 a.m. Wednesday. The victim was standing at Castro and 18th streets when the suspect pushed him and took his cellphone, Officer Carlos Manfredi, a police spokesman, said in a summary.

The victim, 30, wasn’t injured. The suspect is described only as a 30-year-old Hispanic male.

The other incident happened at 2:10 a.m. Saturday, a block away from Wednesday’s robbery.

Manfredi said that the female suspect approached a woman at 19th and Castro streets and “struggled” with her for her purse. The male suspect “held a handgun and [the victim] heard a click.” She released her purse and other property. The suspects fled eastbound on 19th.

The 26-year-old victim wasn’t injured. Her purse, wallet, cellphone, and keys were taken.

The suspects are described only as African Americans who are both in their 30s.

Anyone with information in the cases 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 in Wednesday’s robbery is 160 624 275. The number for Saturday’s robbery is 160 612 866.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, August 3, 2016 @ 1:09 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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