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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

One-of-a-Kind Homeless Shelter Opens Today in the Mission

Posted By on Wed, Jun 17, 2015 at 12:04 PM

Transgender community activist Jazzie Collins is the namesake for a new homeless shelter in the Mission - COURTESY DAVID CAMPOS/TWITTER
  • Courtesy David Campos/Twitter
  • Transgender community activist Jazzie Collins is the namesake for a new homeless shelter in the Mission
The nation’s first shelter for LGBT adults opens today in the Mission, marking the realization of a project that has been in the pipeline since 2010.

Jazzie’s Place, named in honor of deceased transgender community activist Jazzie Collins, will offer 24 beds and operate under the auspices of Dolores Street Community Services. The Chronicle reports that residents can stay in the shelter for up to three months and choose to live among males, females, or those who are gender nonconforming.

Per the Chronicle, a 2013 city survey found that 29 percent of the city’s estimated 6,400 homeless self-identify as LGBT. This community often encounters discrimination and violence in general population shelters, which is what spurred the idea for Jazzie’s Place among the Board of Supervisors in 2010.

Bevan Dufty, the city’s “homeless czar,” attended today’s grand opening along with Supervisor David Campos and former Supervisor and Assemblyman Tom Ammiano.

Jazzie’s Place is considered the first LGBT adult shelter in the country, although specialized housing and social service programs do exist in other cities. Translife Center in Chicago, for example, opened in 2013 and offers a 9-unit residential facility for transgender people.

According to the Chronicle, Jazzie’s Place cost $1.5 million to build and was funded by a mix of private and public money. The city contributed $1 million. 

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LGBT Mural Defaced in the Mission and Sparks Backlash Online

Posted By on Wed, Jun 17, 2015 at 9:43 AM

  • Maricon Collective/Galeria de la Raza

The corner of 24th and Bryant in the Mission has long been synonymous with murals that address social and racial injustice, but Fusion reports today that the corner’s latest mural, depicting LGBT "cholos," has been defaced.

Entitled “Por Vida,” the mural is a triptych that features two men embracing, a transman with mastectomy scars, and two women gazing into each other’s eyes. According to Fusion, the mural was unveiled on Saturday and by Tuesday had been defaced with red and blue spray paint.

In addition, the artist, Manuel Paul, has been threatened online.

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Monday, June 1, 2015

#MyNameIs Coalition Takes "Fake Name" Protest to Facebook HQ

Posted By on Mon, Jun 1, 2015 at 12:11 PM

#MyNameIs protesters outside Facebook's Menlo Park HQ - JOE FITZGERALD RODRIGUEZ
  • Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez
  • #MyNameIs protesters outside Facebook's Menlo Park HQ

A coalition of drag queens, burlesque performers, Native Americans, domestic violence survivors, and LGBTQ people traveled to Facebook's Menlo Park headquarters today to protest the corporation's "fake name" policy. The #MyNameIs coalition says that Facebook's policy of requiring people to use its service under their "legal" name is discriminatory and that the social network's process for allowing users to report "fake names" is rife with abuse. 

The current* campaign to pressure Facebook to change its policy was spearheaded by last fall, when drag queens who used their performance names for their profiles had their accounts deleted, apparently due to a concerted effort by homophobic trolls to get them kicked off the network. Other groups have also spoken up to say that there are good reasons for people to use non-"legal" names. For example, trans* users might want to use their chosen names instead of their birth names, and domestic abuse survivors might want to use a false name to avoid cyber-stalking by abusers. Many Native American Facebook users have also reported being targeted for deletion over their names, and one Native American activist has filed a class action lawsuit over the name policy. 

“This dangerous and discriminatory policy is yet another indication that Facebook is out of touch with the majority of its users, especially those who fall outside of the company’s employee demographics that are predominantly straight, white, and male," says protest organizer Lil Miss Hot Mess. "Whether you use Facebook or not, this fight is about the future of digital culture, including everyone’s right to maintain privacy and express their truest selves.”

The #MyNameIs campaign was dealt a blow last week when the SF Pride Board of Directors voted not to bar Facebook from sponsoring and marching in this year's Pride parade. 

*UPDATE: The current, drag-queen-led campaign on Facebook began last fall, but others have been speaking out about "real name" policies and online anonymity for years. In 2011, activists including Skud, Eva Galperin, Jillian C. York, and other launched the website to call for social networks like Facebook and Google+ to allow "users to identify themselves by whatever name they choose, providing that the name they choose is not, in and of itself, abusive." The site includes resources and personal stories about the importance of online anonymity for many marginalized groups. 

Rival social network Ello provided protesters with a bus from San Francisco to Menlo Park. 

Supervisor David Campos took part in the protest.

San Francisco Examiner and SF Weekly reporter Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez attended the protest. Check out his reports from the ongoing protest on Twitter, and below. 

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Facebook Real Names Policy Divides SF Pride Board, Money Wins

Posted By on Tue, May 26, 2015 at 3:13 PM

Mark Zuckerberg rode a cable car in the 2013 SF Pride Parade - KOBBY DAGAN / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Kobby Dagan /
  • Mark Zuckerberg rode a cable car in the 2013 SF Pride Parade

Facebook will be allowed to sponsor and march in the San Francisco Pride Parade this year, despite its refusal to change the "real name" policy that drag queens and trans people say discriminates against them. The reason Pride is turning its back on the portion of its community affected by Facebook's policy? According to the San Francisco Examiner, all it took was a phone call from Mark Zuckerberg himself and the promise of sponsorship dollars. 

San Francisco drag queens have led a campaign against Facebook's name policy since last year, when Facebook began a mass deletion of profiles of people who use aliases—many of them drag performers, trans people, domestic violence survivors, and others who don't want to use their legal name for a variety of reasons. 

A meeting between Facebook and drag queens last fall did not resolve the issue, and the activists launched a petition this spring calling for Facebook to be barred from the New York and San Francisco Pride parades. The petition has garnered over 2000 signatures, and nearly 1000 people have signed up (on Facebook of course) to protest at the company's Menlo Park campus next Monday. 

But according to the Examiner, a personal call from Mark Zuckerberg to the Pride board's executive director president Gary Virginia helped push him to vote to allow Facebook into the parade. The vote was 5-4. 

The Examiner obtained draft minutes from the board meeting, which took place on May 17. Those minutes are provided in full below, but here are some highlights (all quotes are from the draft minutes, not a direct transcription of what was said):

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Michelangelo Signorile is Coming to Books Inc.

Posted By on Wed, Apr 15, 2015 at 5:54 PM

Radio journalist and activist Michelangelo Signorile has a new book out in which he argues that the current celebratory mood among many LGBT organizations and citizens is actually brewing a dangerous complacency. It’s Not Over: Getting Beyond Tolerance, Defeating Homophobia, and Winning True Equality makes a case that the true backlash against LGBT rights is only now getting underway, and settling for same-sex marriage is wholly inadequate. He will further expound upon his arguments on Thursday, April 16 at Books Inc. in the Castro.

It’s definitely a combative, polemical work, meant to stir people to action. Although the conclusions he draws occasionally contradict one another, and Signorile does not shy from dubious armchair psychology when questioning why progressive LGBT allies sometimes come to different conclusions on an issue than he does, the book’s thesis is a sound one. True equality means more than the sight of two women marrying in a deep-red state like Utah, and if recent events in Indiana are any indication, pernicious ideas about so-called religious freedom won’t die quietly, not even if the Supreme Court establishes same-sex marriage nationwide.

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Friday, March 13, 2015

How Trans Rights Could Lead to a More Progressive Jail System

Posted By on Fri, Mar 13, 2015 at 9:50 AM


In most municipalities where the position of sheriff is an elected office, the occupants of that office tend to favor the law-and-order side of life. San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, by contrast, has a huge picture of Angela Davis on his wall (as well as vintage photos from L.B.J.’s 1964 re-election campaign, a signed Bob Dylan print, and a poster from the 15th Anarchist Book Fair).

They’re symbols and nothing more, it’s true, but after hearing Mirkarimi’s oratory at a recent #BlackLivesMatter/#TransLivesMatter rally in the Castro, I wanted to know more about his remarks on how the S.F. jail system is, in his words, “undercrowded,” and might become a model for progressive change statewide.

While undeniably important, I was slightly skeptical that trans rights were an especially salient issue in the city jails, and in the most direct sense, they are not. There is no epidemic of anti-trans violence or harassment in the system, either with inmates or guards as the victims. Inmates who identify as trans average around seven to 12 individuals at any given time (by Mirkarimi’s estimate), and they are now housed in the gender-appropriate pods. Lastly, considering that the average stay in a San Francisco jail is from 30-45 days, extensive medical interventions of the kind that, say, Chelsea Manning has had to fight for don’t really apply.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Oakland’s Kin Folkz is Staging The Vagina Monologues for the Benefit of Transwomen of Color

Posted By on Thu, Feb 19, 2015 at 12:05 PM


Since The Vagina Monologues’ 1996 debut, Eve Ensler’s episodic Off-Broadway play has been performed across America about as many times as the Nativity scene. Along with V-Day, the larger movement where participants stage the The Vagina Monologues for the benefit of women’s shelters and other nonprofits, it continues to attract controversy from all quarters.

Most recently, Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts canceled its annual performance because the play was no longer representative of the student body or its conception of gender.

While the first all-trans performance was over a decade ago, Kin Folkz, the founder and CEO of Oakland’s Spectrum Queer Media, is staging a production that likely expands the definition of what it means to be a woman beyond what anyone has with all profits donated to Bay Area Women Against Rape and V-Day. Implicitly addressing the Mt. Holyoke theater group's decision, Folkz believes this production is the first of its kind.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Parents to Protest Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone's Anti-Gay Handbook for Catholic High Schools

Posted By on Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 12:27 PM

click image Tonight might look something like this. - STEVE RHODES / FLICKR
  • Steve Rhodes / Flickr
  • Tonight might look something like this.
San Francisco's Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has had enough with the gay, evil culture flourishing in this liberal bastion, which is why he's rolled out a very unwelcoming list of lifestyle suggestions for Bay Area teachers. 

And it's not going over well among parents whose kids are attending Catholic schools across the city. They've banded together with plans to protest Cordileone's narrow interpretations of Catholicism and his anti-gay proposals for faculty and staff.

Hundreds are expected to gather outside St. Mary's Cathedral tonight at 5:30 p.m.

Earlier this month, Cordileone condemned homosexuality and took a stance against "evil" contraception and reproductive technologies, asking teachers and staff at high schools to embrace these sentiments among others. Moreover, the language is written into a new school handbook and could be enforced by proposed changes to teachers' contracts.

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Report: Violence Remains Endemic in LGBT Community

Posted By on Thu, Feb 12, 2015 at 10:24 AM

Thus far, San Francisco has had a disturbingly murderous 2015, and the killing of transwoman Taja DeJesus in the Bayview last week shed more light on the disturbing prevalence of violence against the LGBT community. As a grim coincidence, the San Francisco LGBT Center (along with 14 other nonprofits and city agencies) has just released a comprehensive, 149-page report examining how LGBT San Franciscans experience violence in their lives.

I spoke with Rebecca Rolfe, the Center’s Executive Director, about her organization’s findings. She believes Francisco’s LGBT community has a certain “It can’t happen here” mentality about our liberal mecca.

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there,” she said, including “beliefs that the community is one of great wealth and great resources, as well as persistent misperception that we in San Francisco have conquered homophobia and transphobia.”

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Transgender Community Stages Die-In to Protest Recent Wave of Violence

Posted By on Tue, Feb 10, 2015 at 5:23 PM

More than 100 people from the Bay Area transgender community and allies gathered in front of San Francisco City Hall today to take a stand against the rising epidemic of violence against transgender women, in particular the violence against trans women of color. The rally was triggered by the recent murder of 36-year-old Taja DeJesus who was found stabbed to death in a Bayview stairway

Oddly enough, the protesters were forbidden from gathering on the steps of City Hall, and were instead forced to hold their rally on the sidewalk in front of City Hall. Standing where protesters were not allowed,City Supervisor David Campos said that he was ashamed that the community was not being allowed to express their grief on the steps of City Hall, a fixture for rallies and public actions. 

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