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News Briefs: Our Lady J to be SF Pride celebrity grand marshal

by Cynthia Laird

Our Lady J
Our Lady J  

Transgender television writer and producer Our Lady J has been announced as a celebrity grand marshal for the San Francisco Pride parade, along with Jose Gutierrez and Luis Camacho of the House of Xtravaganza.

Gavin Grimm, the young trans man from Virginia who unsuccessfully fought for the right to use the boy's restroom at school, will be a special guest, according to a news release from the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee.

"We are thrilled to welcome these talented and inspiring individuals into our extended Pride family," George Ridgely, executive director of SF Pride, said in a news release. "Our theme this year, 'Generations of Strength,' encourages us to celebrate not only the decades of art and activism that have led up to the present day, but to showcase the brave work of today and tomorrow."

Our Lady J is a writer and producer on Ryan Murphy's dance-musical TV series, "Pose," which will premiere next month on FX. Prior to that, she wrote and produced for the Amazon hit "Transparent." She's also the first out trans woman to perform at Carnegie Hall.

Gutierrez began his dance career at New York's La Guardia High School of Music and Arts. Under the name Jose Xtravaganza, he began perfecting the craft of vogue. In 1990 he was chosen to be a member of Madonna's Blonde Ambition world tour.

Camacho made a name for himself in the New York City ballroom scene, where he won several trophies at vogue balls in the 1980s.

Grimm, who, with his parents, fought school administrators for the right to use the boy's restroom, was to have his case heard before the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices, however, announced that it was sending the case back to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to be reconsidered. He graduated from high school in 2017 - still unable to use the same restroom as other boys.

San Francisco Pride takes place June 23-24. For more information, visit www.sfpride.org.

API Pride stage seeks talent
In other San Francisco Pride-related news, the Asian and Pacific Islander Wellness Center will present this year's API LGBT Pride stage and invite up-and-coming API LGBT and non-LGBT artists to perform over Pride weekend.

The API community stage, which will be open Sunday, June 24, from noon to 6 p.m., in previous years has showcased such API celebrities as Margaret Cho, CoCo Lee, and Jenn Cuneta.

Musicians, vocalists, dance groups, DJs, and other entertainers are encouraged to apply. Those interested should send an email containing a brief biography, video or audio links, and website or social media information to titaaida@apiwelness.org.

The deadline is Friday, May 25.

Howard Grayson elder confab Saturday
The Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club's annual Howard Grayson LGBT Elder Life Conference will take place Saturday, May 19, from noon to 4 p.m. at the Cadillac Hotel, 380 Eddy Street in San Francisco.

Conference convener Sue Englander said that this year's conference "responds to the avalanche of hazards to ourselves and the broader community," including immigrants, people of color, free speech advocates, home owners, Medicare and Affordable Care Act recipients, and others.

Scheduled speakers include Paula Lichtenberg of the Bay Area Coalition Against the Briggs initiative (the 1978 state ballot measure that would have banned gays and lesbians from teaching in public schools); estate planner and attorney Paul Melbostad of Goldstein, Gellman, Melbostad, Harris and McSparran (full disclosure, Melbostad is counsel for the Bay Area Reporter); trans elder activist Felicia "Flames" Elizondo; and gay musician Blackberri. The conference will also honor the memory of lesbian activist and trans ally Kaye "Nana" Griffin and celebrate the leadership of Asian Pacific Islander Queer Women and Transgender Community's Crystal Jang.

Grayson was a black LGBT and labor activist who died in September 2011. He died alone in a hospital, and none of his family or friends was informed. Englander pointed out that Grayson's death troubled many and underscored the challenges of aging in the LGBTQ community. The club started the conference as a tribute to Grayson and to educate LGBTQ elders and their allies.

The event is free, and refreshments will be provided. For more information, email graysonlgbtelderlife@gmail.com.

Crawfest benefits Larkin Street Youth Services
The Crawfathers will hold their third annual San Francisco Crawfest Saturday, May 19, from 1 to 6 p.m. at the northeast corner of Fort Mason Great Meadow.

The event will benefit Larkin Street Youth Services, a nonprofit that helps homeless youth, including those who identify as LGBTQ, get off the streets. Larkin Street provides housing, medical care, education, and job training to its clients.

Organizers said the festival will feature a traditional Louisiana crawfish boil, with the crawfish flown in overnight from the Pelican State.

A minimum donation of $35 includes all you can eat crawfish and all you can drink beer and wine (must be 21 or over with ID). All proceeds will benefit Larkin Street, with a breakdown of $20 to cover food, drink, and admission, and $15 as a minimum donation.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.larkinstreetyouth.org and click on "Events."

Trans woman's case heads to mediation
A scheduled hearing in federal court for a transgender woman's discrimination lawsuit against the city of San Francisco was canceled Monday as the case was referred to mediation.

Tanesh Nutall is suing the city, saying her rights were violated after a February 2016 incident in which an employee of the city's Department of Police Accountability, formerly known as the Office of Citizen Complaints, allegedly blocked Nutall from using a women's restroom and called her a "fucking freak" and a "fucking man."

At the time, Nutall, 52, was an employee of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and was attending a training that had been organized by the city's Department of Public Health at its building located at 25 Van Ness Avenue.

Nutall is being represented by the Transgender Law Center. Mediation will begin in August, according to Ilona Turner, one of her attorneys in the case. The city filed a motion to dismiss the case, the topic of the canceled hearing.

"We expect our client to be adequately compensated and for the city of San Francisco to do what is necessary to ensure this never happens again to any trans person," TLC legal director Flor Bermudez said.

The city attorney's office did not respond to a request for comment.

Nutall is involved in a second lawsuit against the city, which was filed on her behalf by the state Department of Fair Employment & Housing. On May 8, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Harold Kahn denied the city's motion to dismiss the case, and that lawsuit will proceed.

Nutall spoke with the B.A.R. recently and expressed her hopes for the outcome of the suit.

"All city employees should undergo sensitivity training, it should be mandatory," she said. "I want my community, my brothers and sisters, to feel safe going into public government buildings."

She is disappointed with the city's motions to dismiss both cases.

"I heard about San Francisco all my life and knew it was a place I could be myself without being ostracized, and now that has been taken away from me," she said.

Interim Pulse memorial opens in Orlando
Nearly two years after one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history occurred at the LGBT Pulse nightclub, a temporary interim memorial has opened to the public in Orlando, Florida.

Forty-nine people were killed June 12, 2016 when gunman Omar Mateen opened fire inside the popular nightspot. Another 53 people were injured. Mateen was killed in a shootout with police.

OnePulse Foundation, the official nonprofit managing the design, construction, and operation of a permanent museum and memorial to the June 12, 2016 tragedy, announced last week that the temporary memorial had opened. It will provide a place for commemoration and reflection, officials said.

"Everything you will experience here is intentional. It has purpose," said OnePulse Foundation Executive Director Barbara Poma, who also owns the nightclub. "I know we all reflect on the way our Orlando community responded immediately after the tragedy, but this interim memorial is a true testament to how people continue to respond."

The interim memorial is open while planning and design of the permanent memorial are underway.

As part of the interim memorial design, the iconic Pulse sign has been enhanced and a new fence placed around the perimeter of the nightclub itself. It will remain standing until the permanent memorial and museum designs are selected. Along the fence, features, including panels and murals, honor the 49 people who were taken and commemorate the days following the tragedy when Orlando and supporters around the country and throughout the world came together to grieve and support the families, survivors, and first responders. The Pulse fountain, which had been destroyed by gunfire, has also been restored.

In July, the foundation is expected to begin its search for architects and designs for the permanent memorial and museum.

For more information, visit www.onepulsefoundation.org.

Contact the reporter at c.laird@ebar.com. Alex Madison contributed reporting.

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