By Tom Temprano
Last weekend I took a much-needed vacation to a place with warm weather, great food and friendly locals – Oakland! For those who weren’t aware, last weekend marked Oakland’s annual Pride celebration which, despite a dust up with the leather community, was truly something to be proud of.
I was honored to introduce current Oakland councilmember (and perhaps future mayor) Rebecca Kaplan at her Saturday evening LGBT fundraiser at one of my favorite East Bay clubs, Bench and Bar. After the Harvey Milk Club endorsed Rebecca as our #1 choice for Oakland Mayor two weeks ago I had more than a few folks ask me what a San Francisco based club was doing endorsing in an East Bay race.
Three simple reasons, I responded:
1) The hair. Have you seen Rebecca’s? It’s phenomenal and the Harvey Milk Club definitely factors in a solid coif when endorsing our mayors (see: John Avalos).
2) The importance of having an LGBT person leading a major Bay Area city. At a time when our cities (San Francisco and Oakland) are rapidly becoming unaffordable I worry that we’ll lose our reputation as a place that young queer people can (afford to) come and be accepted. Having a queer mayor in Oakland will remind folks that the Bay is still a place you can come to for the sort of hope that Harvey himself represented – albeit slightly due East of where Harvey had intended.
3) The biggest issues facing San Francisco – housing affordability, displacement, a lack of living wage jobs — are not in fact provincial. They’re actually regional issues that will require regional solutions. Having a progressive mayor in Oakland could well shift the discussion about how we address displacement in San Francisco, a discussion that our own mayor certainly isn’t eager to shift himself.
My weekend of Bay Marriage – a term that Rebecca herself coined – continued on Sunday morning as I joined the East Bay Stonewall Democrats for their pre-Pride breakfast. Among the highlights was getting to listen to my two favorite Assembly hopefuls, David Campos and Tony Thurmond, share campaign trail war stories and watching the entire crowd rise up to give Richmond Councilmember Jovanka Beckles a standing ovation. For those who don’t know, Jovanka is Richmond’s first lesbian councilmember and has been subjected to abhorrent homophobic hate speech during public comment. Despite this she has bravely soldiered on and continued to be a much-needed progressive voice for Richmond. If you’ve ever thought about getting involved in East Bay politics, I recommend starting with a donation to her reelection campaign.
After the breakfast I hit the Pride Festival itself and found something that I hardly ever find when walking through the melee at Civic Center or in the Castro during San Francisco Pride: familiar faces. It seemed as though every ten feet I ran into friends who had either moved to Oakland and were celebrating at home or folks who took the Trans Bay tube to a good time. As incredible as San Francisco Pride’s ability to bring in queers from around the world is, there’s certainly something to be said for the sense of community created by being around members of your own community.
The Castro’s Rainbow Honor Walk was unveiled earlier this week to much fanfare and more than a few grammatical critiques. Anyone who reads this column certainly knows that I’m no stickler when it comes to grammar, but you would think that given the $5,000 price tag for each of the 20 plaques, spending an extra $75 on a copy of Microsoft Office to spell check the text wouldn’t have been too much to ask.
I don’t mean to pile onto the already established controversy but misspelling “transgender” “trangender” has pissed off members of the trans community too often find that the T in LGBT is marginalized. Can you imagine a plaque that read “Lebian”?
That said, I do like the idea of teaching visitors to our gayborhood about queer history and applaud the volunteers who made this happen. Here’s to hoping that local heroes Jose Sarria and Harvey Milk make the next round.
TOM’S TOP TWO THINGS TO DO THIS WEEKEND
1) Hard French with Sugar Pie DeSanto. Saturday, 2pm at El Rio. Granted – this is my party but telling you to come here has nothing to do with my own wallet and everything to do with our incredible guest performer, Sugar Pie DeSanto. Sugar Pie DeSanto, who earned the nickname “Little Miss Dynamite” for her small stature and large stage presence, is known for hits like Soulful Dress, Slip In Mules, and I Don’t Wanna Fuss, as well as for her successful duets with Etta James “In The Basement” and “Do I Make Myself Clear.” In the late 1950’s Sugar Pie learned how to wow an audience as she toured with powerhouses acts like Johnny Otis and James Brown. You don’t have to go back in time to catch her this weekend – all you have to do is come on down to El Rio to see Little Miss Dynamite herself.
2) Rebecca Solnit at Modern Times Books. Sunday, 5pm. Support one of San Francisco’s most progressive long-time small businesses this Sunday and hang out with award-winning author Rebecca Solnit while you do it! My best classes as a San Francisco State student were always the ones that required a trek to Modern Times’ previous Valencia Street location to pick up the textbook and I’ve found myself visiting this incredible gem of a store even more since they moved several blocks closer to me on 24th Street. In a rapidly changing San Francisco Modern Times is as necessary as ever so don’t miss this good chance to help out!