Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

Breaking news: Gay HIV-positive
veteran to carry Olympic torch


Veterans Affairs Commissioner John Caldera has been selected as an Olympic torchbearer. Photo: Courtesy John Caldera
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At least one of the 80 people who will carry the Olympic torch during its stop in San Francisco next week will be a gay, HIV-positive Navy veteran.

John Caldera, 43, who serves on the city's Veterans Affairs Commission, revealed this week he has been tapped to carry the Olympic flame when it comes to town Wednesday, April 9 as it makes its round-the-world trip ahead of the 2008 Summer Games, which take place August 8-24 in Beijing, China.

The relay is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. at McCovey Cove near AT&T Park. The route takes the torch along the Embarcadero and the Fisherman's Wharf areas before concluding at Justin Herman Plaza.

Caldera told the Bay Area Reporter Thursday, April 3 that he was unaware if any other torchbearers will be members of the LGBT community. So far the list of people selected has not been released, and calls to David Perry, a San Francisco-based gay man hired to handle local media requests about the torch relay, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The torch's visit is its only stop in North America and has elicited controversy for weeks, as protesters ranging from Falun Gong to pro-Tibet groups and those upset with China's dealings with Darfur have tangled with city officials over permits to demonstrate along the relay route. The recent crisis in Tibet, where protesters clashed with Chinese security officers, has also heightened tensions around the torch's visit.

Calls of boycotting the Olympics have grown around the world. This week the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 8-3 to pass a nonbinding resolution calling on the U.S. Olympic Committee "to boycott the Beijing 2008 Olympics opening ceremony if there is no cessation of violence from Chinese security forces."

Caldera said while he supports the protesters' right to speak out against Chinese policy, he saw no reason not to participate in the relay.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. No one in my family has been a torchbearer," said Caldera. "Those who want to protest should be able to protest. I just hope I don't get hit with tomatoes."

For more about Caldera's being tapped as a torchbearer, see Monday's online Political Notes column.

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