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News Briefs: Latino pageant promotes wellness

by compiled by Cynthia Laird

Antonio Ponce donned an elaborate costume at last year's<br>Miss and Mr. Safe Latino pageant. Photo: Courtesy IFR
Antonio Ponce donned an elaborate costume at last year's
Miss and Mr. Safe Latino pageant. Photo: Courtesy IFR  

The 26th annual Miss and Mr. Safe Latino pageant will be held Thursday (June 22) from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Marines' Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter Street in San Francisco.

Sponsored by Instituto Familiar de la Raza, or IFR, the event celebrates the diverse culture, talents, and pride of the LGBTQ Latinx community and promotes health and wellness.

Contestants compete in one of three categories: Miss Transgender (TG) Safe Latina, Miss Safe Latina, or Mr. Safe Latina. Participants undergo auditions and rehearsals to prepare for the group performances, as well as individual talent, fantasy wear, and educational segments.

Selected by a group of community judges, winners represent IFR in the Latinx LGBTQ community for a year after receiving their title, often taking part in various street fairs, San Francisco Pride, and National Latino AIDS Awareness Day.

The pageant is produced by Si a la Vida, a program of IFR focused on HIV education, prevention, and support, as well as LGBTQ health and wellness issues. It includes dance performances, music, fantasy presentations, artistic talent, and informational sessions on HIV and LGBTQ health.

"MMSL participants are generally not professional performers," said Rafael Velazquez, Si a la Vida program manager. "That said, past performances have included incredible replicated reproductions of 'The Lion King' musical, and performances of Amy Winehouse, and Juan Gabriel. The talent in our community is truly breathtaking."

Tickets to the event are $12, and can be purchased online via City Box Office at Those attending the show are encouraged to arrive by 6 to participate in the highly popular red carpet entrance as community members and past contestants gather for photos.

The San Francisco Department of Public Health is a co-sponsor.



Merchants with Stop the Violence placards offer safe space in San Francisco

These placards are visible in supporting Castro businesses. Photo: Courtesy CCOP

For out of town visitors coming to San Francisco for the Pride parade and other festivities, organizers of the Castro's Stop the Violence program want them to know they can seek refuge if needed, and want to remind locals of this important service.

Those businesses that have a Stop the Violence placard posted in their window have agreed to three things, said Greg Carey, chief of patrol for Castro Community on Patrol, a volunteer safety group. They will provide a place of safe haven to victims of crime, agree to call 911 on behalf of the victim, and provide comfort as needed until police or medical professionals arrive.

Carey said that CCOP, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and Community Patrol USA started the program in its current iteration in 2010.

"It's the resurrection of the program Sister Roma created years earlier," Carey said in an email.

Roma told the Bay Area Reporter in an email that she originally started Stop the Violence in response to a spike in hate crimes in the LGBT community in 1989. It also started as a window placard distribution program.

"Soon thereafter, we added whistles," Roma said.

Today, the Sisters partner with the San Francisco Police Department and CCOP to provide whistles, self-defense training, and safety materials throughout the city.

"The project ran its course through the 1990s and was put on temporary hiatus until the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Stephen Powell at Pink Saturday in 2010," Roma said, adding that following that incident, the program was revived. (No arrest has been announced in the Powell case.)

Roma said that the Sisters "want everyone visiting for Pride to feel welcome and safe."

"If you feel threatened or are in need of help, just look for a merchant displaying one of our Stop the Violence posters and you will find an ally inside," Roma said.

For more information on the Sisters, visit For more information on CCOP, visit


Pink triangle installation seeks volunteers

People who want a unique Pride experience can volunteer this weekend to help install the giant pink triangle atop Twin Peaks.

The pink triangle, now a symbol of LGBT pride, was once used by the Nazis in concentration camps to identify, shame, and persecute homosexual prisoners. Gays were forced to wear the pink triangle on their pockets in the camps as a way to set them apart from other prisoners.

This year marks the 22nd annual San Francisco installation, project co-founder Patrick Carney said. Pink tarps stretch nearly 200 feet across to form the triangle, which is visible from the East Bay and other areas if there's no fog.

There are three opportunities for people to help. First is creating the outline of the triangle Friday, June 23 from 1:30 to 5 p.m.

On Saturday, June 24, the installation takes place from 7 to 10 a.m. Coffee, pastries, and fashionable pink triangle T-shirts are provided for all volunteers, Carney said.

A commemoration ceremony will follow the installation at 10:30, which is expected to include Pride grand marshals, city officials, and other dignitaries. The San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band will perform, along with musical theater star Leann Borghesi.

Finally, people are needed to take down the triangle Sunday, June 25. The work begins at 4:30 p.m. and continues until 8. Carney said that dinner at a Thai restaurant will be provided. Carney explained that this shift is the hardest to fill, and said that if people can pitch in for an hour it would be helpful.

Those planning to volunteer should bring a hammer and gloves. They should wear closed-toe shoes, long pants, and sunscreen.

For more information, including directions to the site, visit


AIDS Walk fundraiser for Project Open Hand

Two top AIDS Walk San Francisco fundraisers, Richie McAllister and Marie Crinnion, will hold their 15th annual AIDS Walk BBQ Fundraiser for Project Open Hand Saturday, June 24 from noon to 10 p.m.

The popular event takes place at their home, 233 Central Avenue (between Oak and Page streets) in the city's Haight Ashbury neighborhood.

The event will feature live music, food and drinks, silent and live auctions, and raffles. McAllister and Crinnion are asking for a donation of $25 per person.

The party is open to the public. Those with questions can email


Maitri announces interim ED

Maitri Compassionate Care, which operates a hospice for people with AIDS, announced that former Executive Director Bill Musick will take over on an interim basis, following the sudden resignation of Michael Sorensen.

As reported last week, the board announced that Sorensen, who started as executive director of the nonprofit in December, quit for personal reasons effective June 6.

Musick led Maitri years ago during the agency's capital campaign and construction of its Duboce facility. He will remain leader of the nonprofit while the board conducts a search for a permanent replacement, according to a news release.

Currently, Musick is a principal at Tower Hill Resources and a senior associate and project manager for Corridor, which provides guidance to non-acute health care providers.

"Maitri is an organization that is near to my heart, and being able to return as interim executive director is a real blessing for me personally," Musick stated in the release.


Alice Austen House designated LGBT historic site

The Alice Austen House on New York's Staten Island has been designated as a National LGBT Historic Site.

Austen was one of America's earliest and most prolific female photographers. She lived in the house, called Clear Comfort and now formally known as the Alice Austen House, with her mother when she was growing up, and later, with her longtime partner, Gertrude Tate.

The home is already on the National Register of Historic Places, as the Bay Area Reporter noted in an October 6, 2016 story. Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the listing for the 17th century home was updated to include Austen's significance in LGBT history.

The museum held a public program Tuesday with a keynote speech by Joan E. Biren, an award-winning photographer known for chronicling the lives of LGBT people, according to a story on DNAinfo.


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