Rebecca Kaplan, the out lesbian Oakland City Councilwoman and council president pro tem, has been a rising star in the East Bay since her decisive election to the at-large seat in 2008. She easily won re-election last November despite being challenged by a fellow council member. Oakland has its share of issues, especially around public safety as the police force has been cut to around 625 officers. Last month the City Council unanimously approved a resolution, co-authored by Kaplan, that divests the city from making investments in the manufacturers of firearms or ammunition.
Kaplan also touts the positive aspects of Oakland, including its vibrant food and culture scene, as well as a large LGBT population.
"Oakland is home to our nation's highest concentration of artists, religious congregations – and lesbian couples," Kaplan, 42, said in an email. "By naming me as best East Bay politician and Oakland Pride as best East Bay fair or festival, the Bay Area Reporter honors and acknowledges Oakland for being a truly diverse and inclusive place.
"I'm thrilled by this special distinction as we work to expand economic opportunity in our community and stop gun violence on our streets. These awards are an incredibly positive reflection of an Oakland on the rise."
Oakland City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, 94612. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best Fair or Festival
Since its rebirth in 2010, Oakland Pride has added pizazz to the city's Uptown district every Labor Day weekend. A Pride festival had been around starting in the late 1990s but that ended in 2003. Seven years later, led in part by out City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan and with help from San Francisco Pride and the East Bay's Bench and Bar gay club, Oakland's daylong festival has been a hit with families, older LGBTs, and young people.
Oakland Pride. http://www.oaklandpride.org.
American food pioneer and chef Alice Waters opened this classic Berkeley bistro in 1971. The restaurant is open for dinner Monday through Saturday, by reservation only. The fixed dinner menu consists of three to four courses. The menu, which changes every night, is designed to be appropriate to the season and composed to feature the finest sustainably-sourced, organic, and seasonal ingredients including meat, fish, and poultry. There is also a café.
Sadly, as the B.A.R. was tallying the Best of the Gays results, Chez Panisse suffered a severe fire in early March and is temporarily closed. According to the restaurant's website, Waters and her team hope to re-open by the first week in June. Foodies should check the site for updates.
Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley. http://www.chezpanisse.com.
Best Reason to Cross the Bay Bridge
LGBTs in San Francisco may love living in the world-class, cosmopolitan city, with neighborhoods like the Castro within easy reach. But when the fog starts rolling off the ocean and through the Golden Gate, many make the quick trip across the Bay Bridge where the sun and warmer climes await. With its plentiful hiking trails and Point Isabel Regional Shoreline, a great off-leash dog park (East Bay Regional Park District, http://www.ebparks.org); shopping (http://www.Ikea.com); and a gay bathhouse (http://www.steamworksonline.com), LGBT city dwellers find all kinds of amusements just a quick drive or BART trip away.