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News Briefs: March planned for MLK Day

by Cynthia Laird

Groups in San Francisco and Piedmont will hold events commemorating the birthday of civil rights leader the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The San Francisco Interfaith Council invites faith leaders, their congregants, and the public to the birthday celebration Monday, January 15, at Yerba Buena Gardens, 750 Howard Street. Prior to the gathering, there will be a march/parade starting at 11 a.m. from the Caltrain Depot at Fourth and Townsend streets.

Once the march reaches Yerba Buena Gardens, the interfaith commemoration will begin.
The Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee and the city of Piedmont will hold their 21st annual MLK celebration Monday, January 15, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Veterans Hall, 404 Highland Avenue in the East Bay town.

Organizers said that this year's theme is "Bending the Arc," and the memorial celebration will "focus on the work we must continue as a community and our individual abilities to 'Bend the Arc' toward Dr. King's vision of a moral universe of inclusion, equality, and justice."

Performers will include the Westlake Middle School Jazz Ensemble, the Piedmont East Bay Children's Choir, and the Oakland Interfaith Youth Choir.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) is scheduled to speak, along with Assemblyman Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond), who is now running for state superintendent of public instruction.

Events are free and open to the public.

Surrogacy confab returns to SF
Gay men who are interested in becoming fathers can attend the fifth annual West Coast conference by Men Having Babies, which takes place January 13-14 at the Marines' Memorial Club and Hotel, 609 Sutter Street in San Francisco.

Men Having Babies is a nonprofit organization that has been helping thousands of gay men become biological parents since 2012. It is partnering with local nonprofit Our Family Coalition for the San Francisco conference.

The two-day expo brings together community activists, medical and legal experts, parents, and surrogate mothers.

New this year is a focus on Asian men, organizers said.

"For the first time the 2018 conference will offer Chinese simultaneous interpretation service," Ron Poole-Dayan, executive director of Men Having Babies, said in a statement. "We hope to provide Asian men with guidance on how to work directly with USA and Canadian providers, avoiding the financial and ethical disadvantages of using additional layers of intermediaries."

The conference kicks off with a panel discussion of gay surrogacy dads and the surrogates who helped them on their journeys. Two workshops will be offered on planning the surrogacy journey and choosing partners, based on the accumulated knowledge of hundreds of gay men who have already gone through the process. Other sessions will cover insurance, budgeting, legal, medical, and psychological aspects of surrogacy.

Admission for both days is $20 in advance, or $25 at the door. Pre-registration is encouraged as past conferences have sold out. For more information, visit

Queer youth art exhibit at Strut
Strut, the men's health center in the Castro, will team up with the Queer Ancestors Project to present prints by queer and trans emerging artists. An opening reception will take place Thursday, January 18, from 7:30 to 10 p.m. on the third floor of Strut, 470 Castro Street.

Part of Strut's Seasonal Art Show, featured artists include Beni Ali Avalos, Jorge Mata Flores, Cedar Kirwin, Yonit Mordechai Moerman, and Princesa Venegas.

The artwork will be displayed on the first and third floors. The wine reception will include light snacks. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit

Bay Area Pet Con
Pet lovers are welcome to check out the free Bay Area Pet Con taking place January 13-14 at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, 344 Tully Road in San Jose.

The expo is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

The indoor event includes exhibitors, prize giveaways, rescue groups, discounted vaccinations, microchipping, and heartworm and flea preventatives, free nail trims, demonstrations, and live entertainment.

There will also be author readings and book signings.

Pets are welcome, but organizers have guidelines that are available, along with other information, at

GAPA Theatre to hold workshop
The Gay Asian Pacific Alliance has planned a six-session narrative storytelling workshop and performance series for API gay, bi, queer, and trans men.

The sessions for "Citizen Queer - Stories of Asian and Pacific Islander Queer Men," will take place on Saturdays, from 1 to 3 p.m., beginning January 20 and continuing every other Saturday through March 31.

Cesar Cadabes will be the workshop facilitator.

For more information about GAPA Theatre, visit For questions or to sign up for the workshop sessions, email

Author to talk about raising trans kid
The San Francisco Human Rights Commission is bringing back its lunchtime Community Conversations series and the first speaker this year will be author Janna Barkin, who wrote "He's Always Been My Son: A mother's Story About Raising her Transgender Son."

Barkin's first installment of her three-part conversation took place this week, but people can attend her upcoming talks January 17 and 24. The free program takes place from noon to 1 p.m. at the HRC office, 25 Van Ness Avenue, Room 70. Lunch is provided.

Community Conversations is part of the HRC's Help Against Hate initiative.

Public Works offers free sandbags
San Francisco Public Works has announced that city residents can obtain free sandbags during the winter rainy season.

The sandbags can be picked up at the Public Works operations yard, 2323 Cesar Chavez Street, Monday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. People should enter at the Marin Street/Kansas Street gate. Proof of San Francisco residency is required and sandbags are limited to 10 per address.

Officials also announced that street cleaning crews will be out cleaning catch basins during their regular rounds. Director Mohammed Nuru encouraged individuals to sweep up leaves and litter from the sidewalks in front of their homes and businesses and put them in the appropriate green, blue, or black bins to prevent them from clogging catch basins.

People who spot a blocked catch basin or street flooding should contact the 311 customer service center by calling 311, logging on at, or using the free mobile app.


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