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

Political Notebook: White House invites bisexual activist toPride event


Lani Ka'ahumanu, left, and her daughter Dannielle Mutch at the 1994 Pride Parade. (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

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Bay Area resident Lani Ka'ahumanu , a longtime leader in the bisexual community, this year will miss her hometown Pride event, at which she served as a grand marshal in 1994.

Instead of joining the throngs in the Civic Center this Sunday, June 26, Ka'ahumanu will be boarding a plane for Washington, D.C. that day. She is one of the select few who received an invite to this year's LGBT reception at the White House June 29.

Along with being "deeply honored," Ka'ahumanu said she was surprised to receive her invite in the mail in early June. She said she has no attachments to President Barack Obama or his re-election campaign.

She suspects her invitation has to do with her decades-long involvement in the fight for LGBT rights and social justice movements. Ka'ahumanu was the first out bisexual member on the board of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and helped launch a number of bisexual groups, including BiNet USA, the first national bisexual rights organization.

"I have been a pretty public figure," said Ka'ahumanu, who turns 68 this year and has been living in Cazadero near Guerneville working on her memoirs.

Allowed to bring one guest, she asked fellow bisexual activist Kuwaza Imara, an emergency room nurse at Highland Hospital in Oakland, to accompany her to the event. Imara is a member of the SEIU Lavender Caucus; Pride at Work, the AFL-CIO LGBT labor group; and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association.

Like the president, Ka'ahumanu has mixed race parents and is of Hawaiian descent. She plans to wear a flower lei to the reception that she hopes to be able to place on Obama. What message she may be able to tell the president has also weighed heavily on her mind.

"I have thought about it a lot," she said.

Using the Hawaiian term "hapa," which means mixed race and is associated with people who are half white, Ka'ahumanu hopes to convey to Obama some understanding about the bisexual community.

"Being he understands hapa, I am going to put the two together and tell him I am a hapa bisexual," she said. "I am trying to get my sound bite."

It is unknown how many people received invites to next week's reception, the third Obama has hosted. The White House has not released the list of invitees, and it declined to disclose to the Bay Area Reporter the names of other Bay Area residents it had invited.

Politics may overwhelm Pride

For those in town during this year's Pride weekend, it will be chock-a-block with local politicians trying to curry favor with LGBT voters ahead of the November elections.

A number of the top nine mayoral candidates are mobilizing their supporters to join their parade contingents. State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) sent out a Facebook invite to his supporters telling them "all you need is your Pride and some walking shoes – we will have the rest."

Former Supervisor Bevan Dufty, the only gay candidate so far among the group, is once again dancing his way down the parade on a float alongside Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco), the LGBT supportive Family Builders adoption agency, and Culture Shock Dance.

"While it is not permissible to campaign in the parade, I want you to join me as we march (and shimmy) with Pride – toward making history in San Francisco," wrote Dufty in an email this week in which he also disclosed he expects to report having $1 million "raised and matched with public financing" on his June 30 financial disclosure form.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera's campaign is likely praying the heat wave doesn't clear out come Sunday, as it announced this week it is making the parade "sweeter than ever" because it "will have (brace yourself) an ice cream truck!" as part of its entry.

Supervisor John Avalos and his Queers for Avalos supporters will be marching alongside two gay officials, state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano and Supervisor David Campos.

Ammiano this week endorsed David Onek to be the city's next district attorney, who he has also invited to march with him in the parade.

"His stance against the death penalty shows that he has the values that San Francisco needs in a district attorney. I trust David and share his vision for a fair, equitable criminal justice system," stated Ammiano in another sign of how the issue continues to dog the incumbent, George Gascón, who has not ruled out seeking the death penalty in certain cases.

A number of LGBT leaders spanning the political spectrum are hosting a fundraiser for Onek Saturday, June 25 at John's Grill. The special guest will be celebrity Pride grand marshal Olympia Dukakis .

With multiple people running for mayor, sheriff and district attorney this fall, Pride officials are once again warning the candidates that they are not allowed to actively campaign along the parade route.

"Anyone may participate in a personal capacity as long as they do not campaign for elective office," warns Pride on its website. "Please keep in mind that signage displayed on the Parade route ... is not possible either."

Alice celebrates 40 years

The competitive races have helped the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club break records at its annual Pride breakfast Sunday morning. Tickets are nearly sold out and there will only be 10 seats held aside for walk-ins.

"It is our biggest breakfast fundraiser to date," said club co-chair Bentrish Satarzadeh. "We attribute that to the mayor's race." 

She wouldn't provide exact dollar amounts, but Satarzadeh said the club's haul from this year's event is 20 percent more than last year's breakfast. The funds will help pay for Alice's slate card for voters this November.

The largess is despite the fact the number of attendees has been cut by 100 people to better accommodate the venue, restaurant Yank Sing. With the ongoing hotel boycott, the club has not been able to secure a larger site.

Alice is celebrating its 40th year and expects the entire Board of Supervisors and all of the city's state elected officials to drop by the breakfast. It had yet to announce any major gets by press time Wednesday, but invites had been sent to Governor Jerry Brown, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D), who helped co-found the club.

"We are still working with Senator Feinstein ... to see if she can make it," said Satarzadeh. "Those are the big names we are working on. In terms of have they committed? No."

For more info on the breakfast, visit

Web Extra: For more queer political news, be sure to check Monday mornings around 10 a.m. for Political Notes, the notebook's online companion. This week's column reports on the [mostly] defunct SF LGBT and AIDS nonprofits that landed on the IRS tax-exemption revocation list.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBT political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @

Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 861-5019 or e-mail

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