By Karen Ocamb | WEST HOLLYWOOD – For almost half a century, Richard Zitrin has been steeped in the tumultuous fight against injustice as a trial lawyer, professor and legal ethics expert.
He’s a walking vault of California progressive history, some of which he talks about in his new memoir Trial Lawyer: A Life Representing People Against Power. But there are many gems in that vault that are not in the book — stories about gay icon Harvey Milk and Larry Long and Gerald Martin III, for instance, two gay men with AIDS apparently lost to history.
Zitrin is a storyteller. His vivid chapter about representing Johnny Spain, the only one of the infamous 1970s San Quentin Six convicted of murder – convictions that were eventually overturned – should be made into a movie.
The chapter on the luridly false tabloid McMartin preschool cases where he represented a doctor accused of child molestation by a 15-year-old girl includes the parallel story of how Zitrin learned to talk to juries by revealing an emotional truth about himself. The story about his poor Latina client who lost steering control over her Dodge van on Mission Street in San Francisco and crashed into a building in the late 1980s included an epiphany.
Through discovery during litigation, Zitrin found that Chrysler Corporation knew about the defect in their 2 million Dodge vans and had hidden that knowledge through secret agreements.
“What you don’t know will hurt you,” Zitrin told Public Justice. “It just seems like it’s extraordinarily unethical for anybody to keep that information secret from the public.” He’s now dedicated to exposing overly broad court protective orders and secrecy agreements that hide information important to the public’s health and safety.
Zitrin’s latest fight against court secrecy has been his tireless advocacy for the Public Right to Know Act (SB 1149), a bill he wrote with California State Senator Connie M. Leyva, co-sponsored by Public Justice and Consumer Reports. SB 1149 passed in the Senate and recently passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee. It is expected to hit the Assembly floor in August.
With five decades of frontline experience combating injustice, civil rights icons are longtime friends. After George Floyd’s murder, Eva Paterson of the Equal Justice Society asked him to write an essay for her newsletter that turned into “Why being anti-racist is not enough” that the ABA Journal published as an open letter to Zitrin’s white progressive friends.
But a straight ally casually referencing a gay icon is still strange. “I knew Harvey Milk when he first came to San Francisco — in the same neighborhood at the same time that I went to San Francisco,” Zitrin said unexpectedly while talking about how much he hates injustice.
Wait, what? Harvey Milk in the Castro in 1973?
“Well, Harvey was a Jewish kid from Brooklyn, as I am — though he was a bit older. My wife and I were living between Noe Valley and the Castro, which was then called Eureka Valley. The Castro was just beginning to become the center of gay life when Harvey moved in and opened his camera shop. He was local so we just brought our slides to him. That’s how we met him.
“It was before he ran for supervisor,” Zitrin recalled. “I remember going to a very, very early meeting about people going door to door and handing out pamphlets and doing precinct walks for Harvey Milk. We were at his shop with a fairly small bunch of people — maybe 15 or 20 — gay people, straight people, couples like my former wife and myself. He was just a super nice guy. I didn’t know him well. But I sure like going to his shop and talking to him. I liked his politics a lot.
“Later on, between 1980 and 1986, which was during the beginning of the AIDS crisis, our office was on 18th Street, one block from the Castro Theater,” Zitrin said. “We were right in the center of the gay community, right next to Hot and Hunky Hamburgers, if you can believe that!”
Would the response to AIDS have been different if Milk had not been assassinated in 1978?
“I think that’s very possible,” Zitrin said. “The AIDS crisis came on suddenly for all of us and it was going to have a huge consequence, regardless. San Francisco was in the forefront medically but while Cleve Jones, for example, was around and was Harvey’s disciple and was a great leader, he wasn’t Harvey. Harvey was so powerful and charismatic that had he been around, I’m sure it would have helped focus attention on the issue. He would have helped bring it to quicker national attention.”
Zitrin also shared about two gay men who almost lost their jobs when they became ill with AIDS.
“In about 1982, I joined the San Francisco Bar’s Lawyer Referral Service Committee and soon became Vice Chair. The service’s director, Larry Long, became ill with AIDS. He was hospitalized and I remember in those early days, there was nothing we could do other than wish him well or go visit,” said Zitrin.
“Shortly thereafter, Long’s second in command, office manager Gerald Martin III, a gay African-American man, also became sick with AIDS and was also unable to work. And at that time, the hierarchy of the Bar — even in liberal San Francisco — was being run by a bunch of old white men….and their view was that since Larry wasn’t at the Bar anymore, he should be fired. The folks on the Lawyer Referral committee didn’t like that much. And we were concerned about Gerald, too. I kind of led a palace rebellion.”
The old executive director of the Bar Association was on his way out and was looking for a successor who would “cut Larry and Gerald loose,” recalled Zitrin, who was enraged by the immoral and unethical effort. “I was able to organize the committee, with help from the woman who took over as the supervisor — Carol Woods — and the committee just stood up and said, ‘we’re not going to allow this. If you’re going to do it, we’re going to be yelling and screaming about it.’ Almost every member of the 15-person committee was on our side. We got them to back down until the executive director retired. The Bar’s new director was Drucilla Ramey, whose expertise was in equal pay for women and who understood full well what the right thing to do was. Dru led the Bar for 18 years and she and I became good friends”.
Long died in 1985, followed by Martin in 1986. “They were missed,” said Zitrin. The California State Bar Association subsequently gave out annual Larry Long Awards to notable leaders in the Lawyer Referral field. “I’m actually one of the early recipients of that Award, which I’m very proud of.”
While stories about gay men being fired for or while ill with AIDS have appeared in popular and LGBTQ culture — such as the movie “Philadelphia” — there does not appear to be a digital record of the battle that befell Larry Long and Gerald Martin III, until now. How many more stories of those lost to AIDS have yet to be told?
Karen Ocamb is the Director of Media Relations for Public Justice.
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Memorial for Dianne Feinstein at San Francisco City Hall
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein was remembered at a memorial service on the plaza at San Francisco City Hall on Thursday
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – The memorial service for the late California U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein was held on the plaza front of San Francisco City Hall on Thursday afternoon. Speakers included Mayor London Breed, Governor Gavin Newsom, Vice President Kamala Harris, and U. S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
San Francisco bids farewell to trailblazing Senator Dianne Feinstein
“While Feinstein had a complicated relationship with LGBTQs over the years, we recognize her commitment to the community”
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Thousands passed by throughout the day on Wednesday in the imposing marble rotunda of the City Hall to pay respects to a trailblazing woman politician whose career had begun in this very building fifty-four years ago.
Lying in state where other famous San Franciscans have prior, most notably the two men whose political assassinations in this building on the next floor up on November 27, 1978 catapulted her into national prominence, Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California), who died last week at the age of 90, was remembered by the great, the good, the poor, the rich, the politicos and the ordinary people who call the City by the Bay home.
Among those seen in quiet contemplation at her casket was U.S. House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi with her husband Paul, Dr. Anthony Fauci, California State Senator Scott Wiener, and San Francisco Mayor London Breed.
Senator Feinstein is lying in state at the place where it all started — San Francisco City Hall. It’s still hard to process that this absolute giant of San Francisco and national politics is no longer with us. Rest in peace, Senator. pic.twitter.com/VCYKcD42Ua— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) October 4, 2023
Feinstein had a complicated relationship with the LGBTQ+ community. Longtime LGBTQ+ journalist and former Los Angeles Blade news editor Karen Ocamb noted in a commentary published on her personal Facebook page a few days after the Senator’s death:
The forgotten story I want to share happened in 1990 when Feinstein was running for governor against moderate Republican Sen. Pete Wilson of San Diego. Wilson told Log Cabin Republicans behind closed doors that he would sign the long-fought-for gay rights bill, AB 101. That promise quickly caught fire and moved some gays from the Feinstein to Wilson column.
It wasn’t just that Feinstein would not commit to signing AB 101 – it was that she was publicly silent on LGBTQ rights at the height of the Second Wave of AIDS, where she could actually take some credit for leadership as SF Mayor. Meanwhile, Harvey Gantt, the engaging Black Democratic mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, was in LA raising money for his close battle to dethrone ultra racist homophobe Sen. Jesse Helms. Everywhere he went, including private fundraisers, Gantt talked about gay rights – unprompted.
That was just too much for lesbian attorney Diane Abbitt, first woman co-chair of MECLA, leader against the Briggs Initiative, board co-chair for APLA and close friend of David Mixner, with whom Abbitt and a slew of other LGBT politicos subsequently founded ANGLE. At a private reelection fundraiser for San Fransisco DA Arlo Smith, Diane got up on some stage – I seem to remember it as a huge boulder – and just fumed about how she was sick and tired of raising money for politicians who quietly gestured that they were allies but never said the words “gay and lesbian.”
We were outdoors and everyone – even the breeze – just stopped in shock. Diane had that kind of intensity that could zap you with a look. But apparently few had seen her this enraged. She didn’t just hit a nerve; she inflamed the marrow in our bones.
I wrote about that political epiphany for Frontiers and for other gay press outlets under a pseudonyme. But the word spread beyond us and even though Feinstein brought lesbian icons Del Martin and Phyllis Lyons with her to events – the “gay vote” that first showed up to defeat the Briggs Initiative in 1978 started dropping away from Feinstein. She suffered a terrible loss to Wilson, though only the gay press pointed to our community as one reason why.
Gov. Wilson went on to betray us, vetoing AB 101 on this day, Sept. 30, 1991. That led to weeks of riots – also now forgotten.”
The Editorial Board of the oldest LGBTQ publication in California, San Francisco’s The Bay Area Reporter, also took measure of Sen. Feinstein and her career:
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California), who died last week at the age of 90, will be remembered for a lot of things, but to many older LGBTQ people, she is recalled as the steadfast leader who worked to heal San Francisco following a tragedy that propelled her into the national spotlight. It was November 27, 1978, when Feinstein, then president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, standing inside City Hall announced to the world that then-mayor George Moscone and gay supervisor Harvey Milk had been shot and killed by disgruntled ex-supervisor Dan White.
Watching that old TV footage, which was replayed in the hours after her death was announced, brought back a flood of memories for so many. We couldn’t believe that both city leaders had been assassinated. Moscone was a progressive leader and Milk, of course, made history when he was elected just a year earlier, becoming the first out LGBTQ person to win elected office in California. He only served for 11 short months.
As board president, Feinstein became mayor — the first woman to lead San Francisco — and went on to serve in that capacity for a decade, easily surviving a recall and winning reelection during that time. Her leadership occurred during the worst of the AIDS crisis, and Feinstein allocated millions of dollars to help stop the spread of the disease.
As gay former KPIX-TV reporter Hank Plante noted in a social media post, Feinstein’s AIDS budget was more than then-President Ronald Reagan’s was for the entire United States. The “San Francisco Model” was born during her administration, as nonprofits sprang up to work with people living with AIDS and health officials in a partnership that endures today.
She did face criticism for city health leaders’ decision to close the gay bathhouses, but relied in part on their expertise at a time when thousands of gay men were dying of a disease that had virtually no treatment.
As mayor, Feinstein appointed LGBTQ people to city boards and commissions, and hosted the wedding of one of them, the late Jo Daly, the first lesbian to serve on the Police Commission, in her garden.
She appointed Harry Britt, a gay man, to replace Milk on the Board of Supervisors. Her veto of Britt’s domestic partner legislation caused a rift in her support from the LGBTQ community and was one of the reasons for the 1983 recall. The city later passed a domestic partner ordinance, and of course, jump-started the marriage equality movement in 2004 when then-mayor Gavin Newsom ordered city officials to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. That exposed another split with the LGBTQ community, when Feinstein, then a U.S. senator, said Newsom’s actions were “too much, too fast, too soon.”
But Feinstein remained an ally to the community when she won election to the Senate in 1992. Most significantly, she was one of only a few senators who voted against the hideous Defense of Marriage Act that for decades banned federal recognition of same-sex marriage. Even Joe Biden, then a U.S. senator from Delaware, voted for DOMA at the time.
Feinstein also voted against the homophobic “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that prevented gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. Both of those laws have since been repealed.
While Feinstein had a complicated relationship with LGBTQs over the years, we recognize her commitment to the community. Allies such as Feinstein are rarely perfect, yet, especially back in the 1990s, it often took some degree of courage for a mainstream political leader to stand with us.
It was a different time. Feinstein’s actions in support of the community led to support from other political leaders over the years, as they evolved in their thinking. Ultimately, she served the city and state well and will be missed.
“I know what happened, I lived those times- and I’ve tried to learn from them.” ~ Diane Feinstein
LGBTQ+ journalists assoc. honor sports editor Christina Kahrl
Out Trans San Francisco Chronicle sports editor to receive 2023 Jeanne Córdova Award. She is the 1st out trans sports writer in the nation
PHILADELPHIA — The NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists announced Wednesday its recipient of the prized Jeanne Córdova Award at its convention here next month will be Christina Kahrl, the trailblazing sports editor of the San Francisco Chronicle.
It’s especially significant that this honor, which recognizes LGBTQ+ women in the media, will for the first time be awarded to an out transgender woman journalist, who as of this month has been Out 20 years.
“This is an extraordinary honor, knowing the impact Jeanne Córdova had in life and to this day,” Kahrl posted on social media. “Accepting it is not a case of looking back on my career with satisfaction, but a challenge to be worthy of it in everything I have yet to do.
Córdova was a journalist and the editor and publisher of Lesbian Tide, which chronicled the 1970s lesbian feminist movement. The award named for her celebrates the achievement of an LGBTQ+ woman for a current body of work in journalism and/or opinion, with an emphasis on, but not exclusively coverage of, issues of importance to the LGBTQ+ community, in any medium and on any platform.
Kahrl is the first out trans editor at a major metropolitan media outlet, and a sports journalism superstar. The Chronicle hired her away from ESPN in 2021 after a decade-long career as a sportswriter and editor, highlighted by being inducted into the National Gay & Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame in 2013 and the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame in 2014.
In 2008, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America welcomed her as one of the first four internet-based writers to join the organization, as well as its first out trans member. The association votes each year on which players should be named to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
And Kahrl did all of this as the woman she is, the first out transgender sports writer in the nation.
“I started coming out to friends and family and began my transition in 2002,” Kahrl told the Los Angeles Blade. “I was out publicly by August 2003,” she said.
“At that point, nobody had tried to pursue a career as a sportswriter while also being trans,” Kahrl wrote for a magazine published by her alma mater, University of Chicago, in 2015. “Unlike sexuality, this wasn’t something that could remain my own business: I had done a lot of TV work, particularly Cubs and White Sox postgame shows on CLTV, and a national book tour every spring for the new Baseball Prospectus annual. Folks were going to notice.”
Readers of The Chronicle have certainly noticed her talent in her brief time as one of the few women named to run the sports section of a major daily newspaper. The paper has already received multiple nominations and awards for its sports columnists, investigative reporting, breaking sports news as well as for its digital coverage of the Giants, A’s, 49ers and more.
While Kahrl has written for some other illustrious news brands including the Washington Blade, Sports Illustrated, Slate, Cosmopolitan and Playboy, she launched her sportswriting career in 1996, when she co-founded the baseball analytics bible, Baseball Prospectus, devoted to the statistical analysis of baseball. The organization has pioneered several statistical tools that have become hallmarks of modern baseball analysis.
Her roles at Baseball Prospectus grew from columnist to executive editor and managing editor of its bestselling annual season guide. In addition, Kahrl helped launch the careers of a number of baseball journalists as well as two general managers in Major League Baseball.
She was also the acquisitions editor for Brassey’s Sports, focusing on sports analytics and history in baseball, pro football, basketball, motor sports, golf and tennis.
Outside sports journalism, Kahrl has worked as an advocate for civic equality for transgender Americans, helping to reform Chicago police policy on trans individuals and training police departments throughout the Midwest in cooperation with the Department of Justice. She helped organize the public observation of Transgender Day of Remembrance in Chicago and received the Pride Community Service Award from Cook County in 2015 for her work as an activist for the Chicago transgender community. Kahrl has served on the boards of Equality Illinois, Illinois Gender Advocates and GLAAD, and is a Lifetime Member and former National Board director of NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists.
“We are thrilled to honor Christina Kahrl with the Jeanne Córdova Award for her outstanding contributions to journalism,” said the organization’s executive director, Adam Pawlus, in a statement. “Her pioneering spirit has been instrumental in making the world of sports journalism more inclusive of LGBTQ+ voices and perspectives, and the industry is better for it.”
San Francisco drag artist Stefan Grygelko, aka Heklina, dies
“Heklina created events and community spaces that spun glitter and giant wigs and raucous jokes into a feeling of home”
By Cynthia Laird | LONDON – Stefan Grygelko, better known as his drag persona Heklina, has died, his longtime friend Joshua Grannell (Peaches Christ) wrote on Facebook April 3.
The two were in London where they were appearing in the “Mommie Queerest” show there, Grannell wrote, adding that he had gone to pick up Heklina that day.
“I do not know the cause of death yet,” Grannell wrote. “I know this is shocking news and I am beyond stunned, but I wanted to let folks know what has happened. Heklina is not just my best friend, but a beloved icon of our community.”
The news shocked and saddened his friends back in San Francisco, with fellow drag queen Sister Roma writing on their Twitter account that she was “absolutely devastated” to learn of the passing of his friend and collaborator for two-plus decades.
“She is one of the funniest people I’ve ever known. This is a nightmare,” wrote Roma, a member of the drag philanthropy group the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, in a tweet.
Oasis, the LGBTQ nightclub in which Heklina was once a part-owner, expressed its sadness and said it would open at 4 p.m. Monday.
“We are shocked and devastated to learn of the passing of Heklina today,” the club wrote. “Oasis will be open at 4 p.m. for drinks, stories, and community, if you’d like to come by. Sending love to all.”
Gay former state assemblymember Tom Ammiano told the B.A.R. he will miss the drag artist.
“A true professional [and] with drag under attack her passing is especially wounding,” wrote Ammiano, who also served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and school board. “As an aside, she bartended at events for folks with special needs at the Oasis [and] as a former special education teacher, I loved her for that.”
As Heklina, Grygelko was known for founding the old Trannyshack drag show in 1996 at the old Stud bar. (The name of the show was later changed to “Mother.”)
At the start of each Trannyshack, San Francisco’s outlandish, no-holds-barred Tuesday night drag show, a snippet of the old “Muppet Show” theme music warned “it’s a kind of torture, to have to watch the show,” as the Bay Area Reporter reported in 2008.
The joke belied the fact that the performances were more than just boys in dresses lip-synching to pop ballads or camp classics. The weekly shenanigans often masked what in reality was a uniquely queer riff on the political, social, racial, and gender controversies of the day.
Heklina invited not just drag queens — many of whom went on to become stars in their own right — but also female performers, known as faux queens, and drag kings to share her stage. By doing so, Heklina threw out the rulebook on what it meant to be a drag performer.
Adriana Roberts, a trans woman and an early Trannyshack performer, penned a tribute on Facebook.
“She was a Master Class in successful Nightlife Production: wrangling order from chaos, managing a stage, managing a crowd, putting down hecklers, assembling trusted crews, booking budding queens, promoting events, following one’s heart — but also always being aware of what actually sells,” Roberts wrote. “And she did it all with snark, wit, and balance for over 25 years.”
Roberts, a former production designer at the B.A.R., wrote, “Coming from a punk rock ethos, she created a space that welcomed performers from across the gender spectrum, at a time when drag was VERY codified into TIRED (her words) tropes of men in sequined gowns doing diva lip-syncs. None of us realized it at the time, but she helped revolutionize the concept of what drag could be, breaking its mold years before the rest of the world caught on.”
As the B.A.R. noted in a March 2022 article, since the early 1990s, Heklina had been a mainstay in Bay Area queer nightlife. From the first irreverent drag nights at The Stud, to Trannyshack’s expansion at DNA Lounge that included annual contests, Heklina has often hosted the most prominent drag and nightlife events which included her own numbers.
In 2015, along with D’Arcy Drollinger and other investors, Heklina opened Oasis in South of Market; the same building that once housed the original Oasis. The new nightclub has become popular for not only drag shows and DJed dance nights, but comic plays and musicals, cabaret concerts and community fundraisers. Heklina later sold her share of Oasis ownership and moved to Palm Springs, while still keeping a foothold in the Bay Area’s nightlife scene.
And, of course, Heklina was known for her deadpan line delivery as Dorothy (Bea Arthur’s character) in stage productions of episodes of the classic sitcom “The Golden Girls.” The long-running show became an annual holiday tradition in San Francisco.
State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) issued the following statement Monday afternoon:
“I am absolutely devastated. Heklina was an icon in the truest sense — funny, caring, outrageous, and brave. I first saw Heklina perform when I was a young gay man in the 1990s, new to San Francisco. Over the years, I got to know her and helped her find a space for Oasis. I’ve rarely worked with someone as fierce, creative, and dedicated.
“Heklina created events and community spaces that spun glitter and giant wigs and raucous jokes into a feeling of home. She was fiercely outspoken and always stood up for her friends and community. She was the soul of San Francisco, and it’s hard to imagine the city without her.
“Heklina was also a staunch defender of drag — which is under extreme attack right now — and created opportunities for young drag queens to find their space. While we grieve, we must honor her memory by remembering the joy she brought us and the importance of the art form to which she dedicated her life.”
Nguyen Pham, Board President of San Francisco Pride said in an emailed statement:
“Personally, I’ve been honored and grateful to have engaged with Heklina directly, as well as attended her spectacularly memorable productions, numerous times over the years. I know that her unique brand of radically inclusive drag art has evoked so much pure joy from countless community members and allies for many generations. She was unstoppable and a master without parallel.”
Cynthia Laird is the Editor-In-Chief and News Editor of the Bay Area Reporter. Laird is a long time journalist in the SF Bay Area having studied Government-Journalism at California State University, Sacramento. She and her wife live in Oakland.
The preceding article was previously published by The Bay Area Reporter and is republished by permission.
San Francisco Pride selects first trans person as executive director
“I want to preserve the legacy of the parade, while making sure there will be a thriving SF Pride event for future generations”
SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Pride (SF Pride) board of directors have selected Suzanne Ford as executive director. Serving as interim executive director since February of 2022, Ford will continue to spearhead the funding and operations for one of the country’s premier Pride celebrations.
“I am excited for the first trans person to hold the position of Executive Director at San Francisco Pride,” said Nguyen Pham, President of San Francisco Pride. “We are privileged to have Suzanne at the helm of many key projects as she continues to advocate for trans visibility while championing diversity in the LGBTQ+ community.”
“In joining SF Pride, I found a great way to give back to the LGBTQ+ community and I found my family,” said Ford. “I want to preserve the legacy of the parade, while making sure there will be a thriving SF Pride event for future generations. As a tight-knit team, we are excited and humbled to host the second in-person SF Pride Parade and Celebration post pandemic.”
Following a rewarding sales career in the private sector, Ford served as a board member for approximately five years, acting as treasurer for the last three of those years. She co-founded SF Pride’s Pro-Am Golf Tournament Fundraiser, the world’s first and currently only PGA-endorsed LGBTQ+ golf event, which has raised more than $200,000 over the past four years.
Ford was honored with the Legacy Award, Celebrating Trans Joy, TDOV (Trans Day of Visibility) in March of 2022. In addition to numerous accolades for raising awareness of the work that is needed to save and honor trans lives, she has also been recognized for her professional career — when she was profiled as one of the “Women Breaking The Mold” in the packaging industry by Plastic News.
Ford continues to build upon her professional and community sustaining success. Just a few short months after assuming the role of interim executive director in 2022, she was instrumental in coordinating the first in-person SF Pride Parade and Celebration since 2019 — largely touted as a success.
The San Francisco Pride Celebration Committee is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded to produce the SF Pride Celebration and Parade. The mission of the organization is to educate the world on LGBTQ+ issues, as well as commemorate the heritage, celebrate the culture and liberate the people of all LGBTQ+ communities.
A world leader in the Pride movement, SF Pride is also a grant-giving organization through its Community Partners Program. Since 1997, SF Pride has granted over $3 million dollars in proceeds to local non-profit LGBTQ+ organizations and organizations working on issues related to HIV/AIDS, cancer, homelessness, housing rights and animal welfare.
Wiener responds to bomb threat
“The email listed my home address, threatened to shoot up my Capitol office saying we will fucking kill you & called me a pedophile & groomer”
SAN FRANCISCO – California State Senator Scott Wiener (D), an openly gay lawmaker who represents San Francisco, in an emailed statement to the Blade responded to the bomb threat which had been emailed to the San Francisco Standard, a local news outlet, early Tuesday morning.
“Early this morning, I was informed by the San Francisco Standard and the police that someone had issued a bomb threat against me, listing my specific home address and also threatening to shoot up my Capitol office. The email said ‘we will fucking kill you’ and called me a pedophile and groomer.
“This latest wave of death threats against me relates to my work to end discrimination against LGBTQ people in the criminal justice system and my work to ensure the safety of transgender children and their families. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and MAGA activist Charlie Kirk recently tweeted homophobic lies about me, falsely accusing me of supporting pedophiles and child ‘mutilation.’
“The extreme homophobic and transphobic rhetoric that has escalated on social media and right wing media outlets has real world impacts. It leads to harassment, stalking, threats, and violence against our community. People are dying as a result. Responsible political leaders on the right must call it out and stop tolerating it.
“I will always fight for the LGBTQ community — and for the community as a whole — and will never let these threats stop that work.”
A source with the SFPD confirmed the incident.
According to the Standard’s reporting on the incident:
The email was sent by a person using the name Zamina Tataro, the email said that they placed bombs at Wiener’s San Francisco home and threatened to shoot up his Sacramento office “in 20 minutes, I am willing to die.”
The subject line read “Scott Wiener will die today,” and the author called him a pedophile and accused him of grooming children.
A week ago on the heels of a Twitter attack by Georgia far-right extremist MAGA Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, (R-GA), far-right extremist radio chat show host Charles J. Kirk, while loosely channeling an InfoWars host Alex Jones style-attack, went after Wiener implying that the veteran lawmaker endorses and supports child molestation.
Kirk, 29, is a co-founder of Turning Point USA, a conservative right-wing political group aimed at influencing college and university students and young people. Ironically, Kirk himself dropped out of Harper College, a junior community college near Chicago, without having completed any degree or certificate.
Kirk hosts a daily three-hour radio talk show, called The Charlie Kirk Show, on Salem Media which is known for owning conservative websites Townhall.com, RedState, Hot Air, and PJ Media, as well as Twitter aggregator Twitchy, calling itself a ” for-profit Christian broadcast corporation.”
He is also an avid supporter of impeached former president Donald Trump, consistently refers to himself as a MAGA Republican and has asserted that the concept of white privilege is a myth and a “racist lie.” He also has spread false information and conspiracy theories about COVID-19 on social media platforms, such as Twitter, in 2020.
Recently Kirk has been attacking the LGBTQ+ community on the subjects of trans youth and also following the lead of far-right Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, (R-GA) in attacking Senator Wiener:
Kirk’s attack on the senator commenced with: “Thousands of pedophiles in California are going free after just a few months in jail, thanks to the state’s radically reduced penalties for child molestation. One reason so many of these predators are going free so early is California lawmaker Scott Wiener.”
Wiener responded on Twitter saying: “Not even 24 hours after MAGA grifter Charlie Kirk tweeted homophobic lies about me, I received this threat repeating one of his lies. But that was the point: Riling people up against me & other LGBTQ people. Words have consequences & Twitter is becoming a cesspool for this crap”
Not even 24 hours after MAGA grifter Charlie Kirk tweeted homophobic lies about me, I received this threat repeating one of his lies.— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) November 30, 2022
But that was the point: Riling people up against me & other LGBTQ people.
Words have consequences & Twitter is becoming a cesspool for this crap pic.twitter.com/gTn4tHkfg0
Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, released the following statement from Executive Director Tony Hoang upon learning of yet another threat against Wiener:
“The bomb threat against Senator Wiener is another clear indication that the hateful rhetoric and lies from far-right, anti-LGBTQ+ politicians and pundits have dangerous consequences. They aren’t playing political games. This is not an issue with two sides. They’re inciting violence against Senator Wiener and the LGBTQ+ community, and their actions and words should be treated as such.
“Silence is not an option. Responsible leaders, regardless of political affiliation or ideology, must reject and condemn these hateful lies about Senator Wiener and LGBTQ+ people. To do any less is to be complicit in the violence they incite.”
Three months ago a Contra Costa County Superior Court jury convicted a 51-year-old San Ramon, Calif. man for threatening the life of Wiener and on state weapons charges.
Erik Triana was convicted guilty of threatening the life of Wiener, two counts of possessing assault weapons (an AR-15 rifle and a privately made 9mm pistol), two counts of manufacturing or assembling unregistered firearms (commonly known as ghost guns), and two counts of having a concealed firearm in a vehicle, according to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office.
Both the San Francisco Police Department and California Highway Patrol investigated the threat, the SFPD’s public information officer Officer Kathryn Winters told the Blade.
Senator Wiener released a statement after the conviction:
“I’m deeply grateful to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office, California Highway Patrol, and the court system for taking this death threat — and my personal safety — seriously, and for seeking accountability.”
“Death threats against public officials undermine democracy. A public official should make decisions based on what benefits the community, not based on whether a decision will get the official killed. Modern politics can be polarized and toxic, but we must never normalize or tolerate death threats,” the senator added.
Local Contra County journalist Tony Hicks, writing for Bay City News, reported:
Triana was arrested after he sent Wiener the threat through the senator’s “contact me” portal on his website that read: “Vax my kids without my permission and expect a visit from me and my rifle.”
According to the district attorney’s office, the San Ramon father of three signed his message “Amendment, Second” and listed his address as the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Triana was charged in April.
When Wiener testified on Sept. 6 he noted the threat was unlike others his office receives because of the reference to the late San Francisco Mayor George Moscone (who, along with Supervisor Harvey Milk, was shot and killed at San Francisco City Hall in 1978), the specific threat to use a gun, and that Triana lived in the Bay Area.
The threat was traced back to a work computer Triana used at his job in Pleasanton. When investigators executed the search warrant they found an unregistered AR-15 assault weapon with nine loaded magazines and an unserialized privately made 9-mm pistol referred to as ghost guns.
Police also seized another unserialized pistol in a backpack, along with two loaded 9mm magazines and two loaded AR-15 style magazines.
Padilla, local leaders celebrate passage of Respect for Marriage Act
“There’s no better place than San Francisco to celebrate passage of the Respect for Marriage Act & affirm lives of millions of LGBTQ people”
SAN FRANCISCO — U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) on Friday hosted a press conference with San Francisco Mayor London Breed, State Senator Scott Wiener, Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang, and local leaders following the Senate passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.
Senator Padilla also officiated a vows renewal ceremony of Cyn Wang and Tessa Chavez, a local lesbian couple, at San Francisco City Hall to mark the historic occasion.
The Respect for Marriage Act requires the federal government to recognize a marriage between two individuals if the marriage was valid in the state where it was performed and guarantee that valid marriages between two individuals are given full faith and credit, regardless of the couple’s sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin. The legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 61-36.
“There is no better place than San Francisco to celebrate the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act and unequivocally affirm the lives of millions of LGBTQ people and interracial couples across our country,” said Senator Padilla. “We celebrate the progress that we have made today, but recognize the work still left undone to fully protect the rights of LGBTQ Americans. I’ll continue working to build on our efforts until we ensure that every American is treated equally under the law, free from discrimination.”
“I was proud to introduce the Respect for Marriage Act over the summer, and I’m even more pleased that the bill passed the Senate this week with strong bipartisan support,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein. “The Respect for Marriage Act will guarantee legal protections for millions of marriages in the United States. Simply put, Americans should be free to marry the person they love, regardless of sexual orientation or race, without fear of discrimination or fear that their marriages will be invalidated. This was a historic vote and one that every proponent of equality can be proud of.”
“The Respect for Marriage Act is an important step forward in the continued fight for LGBTQ and racial equality in America,” said State Senator Scott Wiener. “Today, we celebrate this victory for our civil rights, and tomorrow we recommit to fight even harder against the right-wing Supreme Court’s efforts to legalize discrimination in this country.”
“San Francisco’s history is inseparable from the history of the LGBTQ community and the movement for marriage equality locally, at the state level, and nationally,” said Mayor Breed. “As we celebrate the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, we honor those who have endured discrimination and hate, and the many who lost their lives in the quest for equality. We recommit ourselves to protect the fundamental rights of all people regardless of who they are or whom they love. Thank you to Congressional leaders, especially Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla, and Speaker Pelosi for their leadership to pass this historical legislation.”
“Equality California applauds this historic vote and the critical leadership of Senators Baldwin, Feinstein and Padilla, in getting this bill across the finish line,” said Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang. “While this is an important step in affirming the dignity of the LGBTQ+ community, it will not end all discrimination against LGBTQ+ people or erase the hateful rhetoric of anti-LGBTQ+ politicians and extremists. Equality California will continue to fight for full, lived equality for all LGBTQ+ people until the work is done.”
“The Respect for Marriage Act removes an ugly, discriminatory stain on our federal law books – the 1996 so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” – and replaces DOMA with a rule requiring government at all levels to treat all married couples equally nationwide,” said Jenny Pizer, Chief Legal Officer, Lambda Legal. “We hope we never need it. But if the U.S. Supreme Court were, outrageously, to erase the constitutional protection for the freedom to marry, this law will substantially reduce the harms. Yet, even if the Respect for Marriage Act were to become necessary, it would not be sufficient. We still urgently need the Equality Act to become law, to protect LGBTQ people from the widespread discrimination that persists in the commercial marketplace and in public services with harsh, unacceptable consequences.”
“It is a historic moment for the advancement and preservation of basic civil rights for all Americans, but by no means is our work done,” said Kris Perry, Prop 8 Plaintiff & Nonprofit Director. “Our family and thousands of families like ours can breathe easier tonight knowing our fundamental rights are protected.”
“After the Supreme Court overturned a woman’s right to choice, we feared same-sex marriages were next,” said Cyn Wang and Tessa Chavez. “The Respect for Marriage Act gives our family clarity and a sense of relief that our marriage, and those of all married couples regardless of sexual orientation or race, will be protected in this country.”
The Respect for Marriage Act now goes to the House of Representatives for passage and then to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
Senator Padilla is committed to pursuing equality for the LGBTQ community, including in employment, housing, and credit lending.
Earlier this year, Padilla introduced the LGBTQ Business Equal Credit Enforcement and Investment Act, legislation that would protect the 1.4 million LGBTQ-owned businesses in the nation from lending discrimination to ensure equal access to economic opportunities. Padilla also joined Senate Democrats in introducing a resolution recognizing June as LGBTQ Pride Month to highlight the work of the LGBTQ community in fighting to achieve full equality, including for marriage.
House Speaker Pelosi’s husband in hospital after assault
The assault comes less than two weeks before the Nov. 8 midterm elections, in which control of the House and the Senate is at stake
SAN FRANCISCO – The 82-year-old husband of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is in hospital after being seriously injured in an home invasion early Friday morning. Paul Pelosi is expected to make a full recovery the Speaker’s office said in a statement.
He was admitted to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital for his injuries, the hospital confirmed. Pelosi underwent what officials described as successful surgery to repair a skull fracture and injuries to his right arm and hands after he was seriously wounded in the attack.
San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) spokesperson Sergeant Adam Lobsinger said that at around 2:27 am, uniform SFPD officers responded to the 2600 block of Broadway for a home break-in. During the incident an 82 y/o male was attacked and that a suspect was taken into custody.
UPDATED 1130AM Pacific: SFPD Police Chief William Scott told reporters at a press briefing [that] “The motive for this attack is still being determined,” said Scott. The suspect the chief said is 42-year-old David Depape who has been charged with attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse and other charges.
“Our officers observed Mr. Pelosi and the suspect both holding a hammer,” Scott said. “The suspect pulled the hammer away from Mr. Pelosi and violently assaulted him with it. Our officers immediately tackled the suspect, disarmed him, took him into custody, requested emergency backup and rendered medical aid.”
CBS NEWS BAY AREA:
Speaker Pelosi was in Washington D.C. along with her Capitol Police protective detail which the Capitol Police, responsible for protecting Congress, said it was working with the FBI and the SFPD on the investigation.
Speaker Pelosi, who is third in the line of succession to the president, had just returned this week from a security conference in Europe and is due to keynote the Human Rights Campaign annual national dinner Saturday evening in Washington with Vice President Kamala Harris.
Her spokesperson Drew Hammill told the Blade that she has cancelled her appearance.
“The speaker is no longer able to attend and has sent her regrets,” said Hammill.
CNN reporting that the suspect who attacked Paul Pelosi while breaking into the home was shouting “Where is Nancy, where is Nancy?”— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) October 28, 2022
President Joe Biden called Pelosi on Friday morning to express his support, according to White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre. The White House also released a statement from President Biden:
“The President is praying for Paul Pelosi and for Speaker Pelosi’s whole family. This morning he called Speaker Pelosi to express his support after this horrible attack. He is also very glad that a full recovery is expected. The President continues to condemn all violence, and asks that the family’s desire for privacy be respected.”
California State Senator Scott Wiener who represents San Francisco and California Governor Gavin Newsom released statements regarding the attack:
“This attack is terrifying, and the direct result of toxic right wing rhetoric and incitement against Speaker Pelosi and so many other progressive leaders. Paul Pelosi was brutally attacked for being married to one of the strongest Democratic leaders in our nation’s history. Paul is a fantastic person and I’m rooting for his recovery, said Senator Wiener.
“I’ve experienced firsthand how right wing political violence is on the rise in our country. The violence and threats that we as elected officials – and our families – face every single day badly damage democracy and must end. Words have consequences, and without question, the GOP’s hate and extremism has bred political violence. We must hold accountable leaders and public figures who incite this violence,” Wiener added.
“This heinous assault is yet another example of the dangerous consequences of the divisive and hateful rhetoric that is putting lives at risk and undermining our very democracy and Democratic institutions. Those who are using their platforms to incite violence must be held to account, Governor Newsom said.
“Our leaders should never fear for their safety and the safety of their families in serving the people they were elected to represent – not in their homes, not at the U.S. Capitol, not anywhere. Jennifer and I wish Paul a speedy recovery and send our thoughts to Speaker Pelosi and their family during this time,” the governor added.
Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin hours after the attack criticized Nancy Pelosi while campaigning for Congressional candidate Yesli Vega.
“Listen, I want to stop for a minute and — listen, Speaker Pelosi’s husband — they had a break in last night in their house and he was assaulted,” said Youngkin. “There’s no room for violence anywhere, but we’re gonna send her back to be with him in California. That’s what we’re gonna go do. That’s what we’re gonna go do.”
Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) seems to joke about the assassination attempt on Speaker Nancy Pelosi while campaigning for GOP congressional candidate Yesli Vega:— The Recount (@therecount) October 28, 2022
“There’s no room for violence anywhere, but we’re going to send her back to be with him in California.” pic.twitter.com/K3D7X8NEcM
The assault comes less than two weeks before the Nov. 8 midterm elections, in which control of the House and the Senate is at stake, Reuters reported. Republicans have been campaigning on concerns about violent crime, as well as inflation and other quality-of-life issues.
The House Speaker has been a lightening rod for political attacks from the far-right as well as a frequent target for Republican criticism, which in this midterm elections cycle has prominently factored into GOP opposition adverts.
Paul Pelosi owns a San Francisco-based real estate and venture capital firm, was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence of alcohol after becoming involved in an auto accident in May, Reuters noted, adding that he was sentenced to five days in jail in Napa County, Calif.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that SFPD officers are currently stationed outside the Pelosi residence in Pacific Heights, an upscale neighborhood of the city.
Breaking from CNN:
Bay Area Reporter to receive Legacy Award from NLGJA
“LGBTQ media is as important as ever […] now that we must contend with misinformation & an emboldened backlash on LGBTQ rights and people”
SAN FRANCISCO – The venerable Bay Area Reporter, San Francisco’s LGBTQ publication of record for fifty-one years, announced that it is slated to receive this year’s Legacy Award from NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists. The award will be bestowed on the paper at the NLGJA’s annual convention in Chicago later this month.
The award was created to recognize an outlet, publication, or news organization that has exhibited innovative, high-quality, and sustained news coverage of the LGBTQ community over an extended period of time. The Bay Area Reporter, known as B.A.R. has been serving the San Francisco bay area LGBTQ+ community since its founding in 1971.
“The outlets, publications, or news organizations that are recognized by the award have exemplified NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists’ mission to promote and foster fair and accurate LGBTQ news coverage,” the organization stated in an email announcement. “The Legacy Award is the association’s only award that is presented to an outlet, publication, or news organization to recognize the work of its entire staff, rather than an individual.”
In an online announcement, B.A. R. Editor Cynthia Laird noted that the news outlet is independent and has been owned since 2017 by Michael Yamashita, who became publisher in 2013. He is the first gay Asian American publisher and owner of an LGBTQ newspaper. Yamashita has long ties to the B.A.R. as he was hired as its general manager in 1989.
“I’m grateful for NLGJA’s recognition of the B.A.R.’s advocacy journalism covering five decades,” Yamashita stated in an email. “It means even more that fellow journalists bestowed this distinction. LGBTQ media is as important as ever for our community, now that we must contend with misinformation and an emboldened backlash on LGBTQ rights and people.”
Laird also reported other LGBTQ journalists will be recognized at the conference.
Chuck Culpepper will receive the Lisa Ben Award for Achievement in Features Coverage. Culpepper is a reporter at the Washington Post covering national college sports, golf, international sports, and tennis. The award is named for the pseudonym Edythe Eyde used for her pioneering publication, Vice Versa.
New York Times journalist Jane Coaston is the recipient of the 2022 Jeanne Córdova Award. Coaston is host of the Times’ podcast “The Argument.” Córdova was a journalist and the editor and publisher of Lesbian Tide, which chronicled the 1970s lesbian feminist movement.
Errin Haines, editor at large and co-founding member of the 19th, a nonprofit independent news site focused on the intersection of gender, politics, and policy, will receive NLGJA’s Leadership Award.
Award-winning journalist Tamron Hall will receive the Randy Shilts Award for LGBTQ Coverage. Hall hosts the nationally syndicated “Tamron Hall” show. The Shilts award honors journalists who consistently bring stories about LGBTQ issues to life in mainstream media outlets
Shooting on Muni Train in San Francisco’s LGBTQ+ Castro neighborhood
One victim was pronounced dead at the scene. The other victim was transported to a hospital The suspect fled from the train remains at large
SAN FRANCISCO – A shooting on a Muni Train between the Forest Hill and Castro stations killed one person and seriously injured another Wednesday morning at around 10:00AM NBC Bay Area reported.
The gun violence, which occurred as Pride Week festivities are cranking up in the city rattled the LGBTQ+ community, however s spokesperson for the San Francisco Police Department indicated that investigators do not believe that that the gunman was targeting the community.
“I also want to assure the community that this incident does not appear to have any connection to Pride events or does not appear to target the LGBTQ community,” San Francisco police Officer Kathryn Winters said. “We really want to make sure that our community members and visitors who are in town for Pride week understand that.”
According to Winters one victim was pronounced dead at the scene. The other victim was transported to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The suspect fled from the train at the Castro station and remains at large. Winters told NBC Bay Area the shooting appeared to be an isolated incident.
Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) released the following statement regarding the shooting:
“The shooting that occurred on the Muni subway near Castro Station — a subway ride I’ve taken thousands of times over the past 25 years — is a horrific tragedy. It’s another reminder that as long as our country is awash in guns, shootings can happen anywhere, anytime. My heart goes out to the victims, and I know SFPD is working hard to apprehend the shooter. We must recommit as a nation to end the easy availability of guns. California has the strongest gun safety laws in the nation, and we’re continuing to strengthen them. But we need strong action from Congress to truly improve the safety of our community.”
It wasn’t immediately known if the suspect and victims knew each other. SFPD are investigating any potential connections and are also looking into what led up to the shooting.
Anyone who witnessed the shooting is asked to contact San Francisco police.
Muni subway service between the West Portal and Castro stations has been stopped, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said.
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