Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 12 / 22 March 2018

News in brief: Legendary
gay bar to be remembered


In mid-October, John Newmeyer, left, showed Empress I Jose Sarria the plaque that will be dedicated in front of the former Black Cat bar, site of early gay activism and where Sarria entertained the crowds until the bar's closing in 1963. Friends, including reigning Emperor Michael Dumont, right, look on. The plaque will be formally unveiled Saturday. Photo: Rick Gerharter
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In the annals of San Francisco's LGBT history, probably no other bar is as celebrated as the Black Cat Cafe, a North Beach institution that once was the domain of drag performer Jose Sarria, who would become "The Widow Norton" and founder of the Imperial Court system.

The Cat, as it was called, opened in 1933 at 710 Montgomery Street and quickly became a favorite watering hole for the artists and bohemians who lived nearby. In the 1950s owner Sol Stoumen hired Sarria as host on Sundays and the bar quickly became a safe haven for the city's growing gay population.

With the influx of new clientele came police raids. The harassment led Sarria to run for city supervisor in 1961, becoming the first openly gay person to run for elective office in the country. He lost the race but his candidacy gave birth to a new politically active gay community.

Two years later the Cat closed its doors for good. But its place in gay history has never been forgotten. And this weekend the bar will be forever remembered when former patrons and history buffs dedicate a plaque commemorating the Black Cat Cafe and its role in the history of San Francisco.

The ceremony will begin at 4 p.m. Saturday, December 15 in front of Bocadillos, the Spanish tapas place that opened in the former bar space.

'Soulful Christmas'

The Edge bar, Bill Doggett, and John Weber, Mr. Gay San Francisco 2007, invite interested community members to attend the "Soulful Christmas" party at the bar, 4149 18th Street tonight (Thursday, December 13) from 8 to 11 p.m.

The evening includes food, music, and drink specials.

Oakland chamber party

In Oakland, the Rainbow Chamber of Commerce and Labor will hold its holiday mixer Monday, December 17 at the Bates House bed and breakfast, located at 399 Bellevue Avenue in the historic Adams Point District. The event takes place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. and is free for first timers and chamber members. Non-member who are not first-timers pay $20. For more information, call (510) 395-0077.

Glide giveaways

This holiday season, Glide Memorial United Methodist Church once again rolls out the welcome mat for those who are less fortunate. The church will hold its annual grocery bag giveaway Wednesday, December 19 from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and expects to hand out 6,000 bags full of groceries for families in need.

On Friday, December 21, it's the toy giveaway for children, from 10 to 11 a.m. Both events take place at the church, 330 Ellis Street in San Francisco.

Church officials noted that money or unwrapped toys are welcome. Visit for more information or to donate.

Tessie volunteers needed

Volunteers, money, and food items are needed for the upcoming Tenderloin Tessie Christmas Day dinner, organizers announced. The long-running dinner, now in its 33rd year, takes place December 25 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the First Unitarian Church, 1187 Franklin Street (at Geary) in San Francisco.

Volunteer shifts are flexible, between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m., but are especially needed from 11:45 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Those interested in volunteering or making a donation (monetary gifts are welcome), should contact acting treasurer and volunteer coordinator Michael Gagne at (415) 584-3252.

MCC-SF bids farewell to interim pastor

Metropolitan Community Church-San Francisco will hold a special coffee hour to thank interim senior pastor the Reverend Chris Glaser after both the 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. services Sunday, December 16. Glaser, who was brought on board last year following the resignation of the Reverend Dr. G. Penny Nixon, will leave at the end of the month. The Reverend Lea Brown will begin her job as the church's new senior pastor January 1. The congregation voted in favor of hiring Brown last month. Additionally, the Reverend Annie Steinberg-Behrman also will be departing at the end of the month; a coffee hour recognizing her contributions will be held following the 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. services on December 30.

Services are held at 44 Page Street in San Francisco. For more information, visit

Peninsula MCC service

Peninsula MCC, the San Francisco Peninsula's first church with a special ministry to LGBT people and their friends, will hold a special program entitled "The Face of AIDS – The Face of God" Sunday, December 16. There will be a worship service at 12:30 p.m., followed by an educational panel discussion from 2 to 4 p.m. The church meets at the College Heights Congregational Church, 1150 W. Hillsdale Boulevard in San Mateo.Senior pastor the reverend Terri Echelbarger said that the service is being held to build on the momentum of "hope" as the special theme of the third Sunday in Advent.

For more information, visit

Gay probation officer wins award

A gay San Francisco deputy adult probation officer has been named Probation Officer of the Year by the Chief Probation Officers of California.

Darrin S. Dill, 45, started a program in July that involves outreach to homeless people who are on probation. The program was profiled in last week's Bay Area Reporter. Dill received the award Thursday, December 6.

The award included $250 in cash.

"I'm gonna buy a lot of socks and rain ponchos with it," Dill said, referring to items he often hands out to people on the streets.

Dill and fellow deputy adult probation officer Lee Anne Hudson, who's a lesbian, visit homeless people in the Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods each week, handing out resource guides and other items. Dill said he's not aware of any other program like it.

The idea is to help people successfully complete probation. Even when they meet people who aren't on probations, the officers offer to help them get linked up with services. Although many of the clients are already aware of the services available to them, Dill said helping them report to probation at least helps keep them out of jail.

Dill said it's his understanding that this is the first time in recent memory anyone from San Francisco has won the award. He said he didn't know if he's the first gay person to win the award. Calls to the organization weren't returned.

Center paint feedback ending

The San Francisco LGBT Community Center has announced that December 15 is the last day of open feedback regarding the potential color scheme of the Fallon Building portion of the center. Interested people can still vote online at, where a link will direct visitors to a survey. There are two color palettes: "A" comprised of grays, lavenders, and purples with silver leafing for finer details; and "Z" comprised of nature-based tones of tan, maroon, and green with gold leafing.

The center expects to begin painting the building next spring. Community feedback will be a major component of the process of making a final decision regarding the colors selected, center officials said.

Matthew S. Bajko and Seth Hemmelgarn contributed to this report.

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