News Briefs: Lara to
receive EQCA award
compiled by Cynthia Laird
Equality California will hold its San Francisco Equality Awards gala Saturday, February 23 at the Fairmont Hotel, 950 Mason Street.
This year's event, which will feature John O'Connor, the agency's new executive director, will recognize openly gay state Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Long Beach) with EQCA's Leadership Award. Lara, as chair of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, was instrumental in passing an audit of California schools to ensure their compliance with anti-bullying and harassment laws, as well as the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful Education Act that was passed in 2011. The act updates guidelines for including people with disabilities and LGBTs in social studies classes.
On Tuesday, February 19, Lara introduced the Youth Equality Act, which would remove a state tax exemption for any youth group, including the Boy Scouts of America, that discriminate against members or leaders on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Boy Scouts confirmed earlier this month that they were considering lifting the ban on gay scouts or leaders, but later announced that a decision would not be made until spring.
EQCA is a sponsor of Lara's legislation.
At its gala, EQCA will also honor filmmakers Madeliene Lim and brothers Benjamin and Peter Bratt.
Lim is the founder of the Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project, where she serves as executive and artistic director. She will be receiving the State Farm Good Neighbor Award.
Peter Bratt wrote and directed, and Benjamin Bratt starred in La Mission, a 2009 film about the tension between traditional Latino identity and acceptance of LGBT people, as well as a paean to the eponymous San Francisco neighborhood. They will receive the Allies in Media Award.
Singer Frenchie Davis, who has appeared on American Idol and The Voice, will provide entertainment.
The evening begins with a reception at 6 p.m., followed by the dinner and program at 7 and an after-party starting at 9. Tickets are $350; for the after-party only, they are $75. For tickets or more information, visit www.eqca.org/sf.
White House announces egg roll lottery
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama announced that the online lottery to determine participants for this year's Easter Egg Roll opens today (Thursday, February 21) at 7 a.m. (Pacific). The egg roll, which will be held Monday, April 1, is open to children aged 13 years and younger and their families. If LGBT families are planning to be in the D.C. area over the holiday, this might be a fun event for the kids.
Tickets for the egg roll are free and will be distributed through the online lottery system, allowing guests from across the country to participate in a tradition that dates back to 1878. The lottery closes Monday, February 25 at 7 a.m. (Eastern). Ticketing details are available at www.whitehouse.gov/eastereggroll.
The Easter Egg Roll will feature live music, sports courts, cooking stations, and, of course, Easter egg rolling. Tied in to the first lady's Let's Move initiative to combat childhood obesity, all of the activities will encourage children to lead healthy and active lives.
Man sentenced in pedestrian death
A man convicted in the 2011 death of a gay pedestrian in San Francisco was sentenced last week to six months of county jail, which he'll serve through electronic monitoring, along with 500 hours of community service and other penalties.
Bill Cox, 59, died September 6, 2011, hours after Gregg Wilcox, 61, struck him with his Ford Explorer in a crosswalk at 14th and Noe streets. Wilcox, a former Muni deputy director, had been driving with his left foot because he was wearing a medical boot on his right foot. In July, a jury convicted him of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter.
At the Friday, February 15 sentencing in San Francisco Superior Court, David Douma, a friend of Cox's, described his friend's interest in social justice and his artistic talents, among other traits, and said he was "the brother I never had."
"Bill should still be alive today," Douma said. Despite wearing the medical boot, "Mr. Wilcox determined it was his privilege to imperil the lives of others," he said.
Before Superior Court Judge Susan Breall announced Wilcox's punishment, she said she'd struggled to determine what a just sentence would be in the case.
"There has to be an element of social justice," Breall said. "... You have to agree the victim would want that."
As part of his community service, Wilcox, who had faced up to a year in jail, is supposed to talk to young people about negligent driving and the impact on other people's lives.
Wilcox didn't comment on Douma's remarks in court, and he wasn't available immediately after the hearing. Defense attorney Rafael Trujillo said in court that everyone felt "the loss of human life." He also said attorneys were filing a notice of appeal in the case.
In addition to the six months of monitoring, in which he's mostly restricted to home, Wilcox's sentence also includes a three-year suspension of his driver's license and other terms. He also received three years of probation with a suspended sentence of six months in jail. Assistant District Attorney Mary Plomin prosecuted the case.
Wilcox's next court date is February 25 for proof of electronic monitoring.
Medical examiner: Man died of natural causes
The San Francisco Medical Examiner's office has determined that a man who was found dead in July in a section of Golden Gate Park known for gay cruising had heart disease and died of natural causes.
The death of San Francisco resident David Borowy, 55, whose body was found July 8 near John F. Kennedy Drive and Bernice Rogers Way, was initially considered a possible murder. But about a month after Borowy died, police Inspector Daniel Cunningham said the case was "not looking like it's a homicide."
In its report, made available this month, the medical examiner's office lists the cause of death as hypertensive atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.
When medical examiner's staff arrived at the scene, Borowy was lying in the dirt with his pants around his ankles. Someone reported to an investigator from the office that he'd originally been found kneeling and slumped forward, with his forehead on the ground and his right arm supported by the branch of a bush. There were abrasions on his throat, among other "minor" injuries, but the agency eventually found "no evidence of manual or ligature strangulation," according to the file.
The position Borowy was found in and his heart pathology were "consistent with sudden cardiac death," the report says.
The document indicates bupropion, which is also known as Wellbutrin and can be used as an antidepressant and for quitting smoking; Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid (GHB); Delta 9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); and "metabolites in non-lethal levels" were in Borowy's system.
Justin Davisson, 43, of Mountain View, said Borowy, who was gay, had been "a good friend to myself and my family."
Davisson described Borowy as "fun to be around" and in an email he said he "was one of those people who come into your life that is simply unforgettable."
Last chance for aging/HIV survey
There is still time to sign up for the last survey for people age 50 and over who are living with HIV in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin counties.
The survey is being conducted by Loren Meissner, a graduate student in the gerontology program at San Francisco State University, with support from the HIV Health Services Planning Council, which prioritizes federal funds under the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Modernization Act for the three counties.
The survey will take place Tuesday, February 26 at 5:30 p.m. at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, 1035 Market Street, room 3D.
Meissner said that it's expected to take between 60 and 90 minutes to complete the survey. Those meeting eligibility requirements will receive a $20 Safeway gift card.
For more information and to RSVP, contact Ali Cone at (415) 674-4751 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Seth Hemmelgarn contributed to this report.