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News Briefs: SF Pride lifetime award goes to author Gomez

by Cynthia Laird

Author Jewelle Gomez. Photo: Irene Young
Author Jewelle Gomez. Photo: Irene Young  

Lesbian author and playwright Jewelle Gomez was named this year's recipient of San Francisco Pride's Lifetime Achievement Award.

The board and membership of the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee announced the community grand marshal and other honorees last week.

Gomez is the author of seven books, including the double Lambda Literary Award-winning vampire novel, "The Gilda Stories." She and her spouse, Diane Sabin, were one of the plaintiff couples in one of the same-sex marriage lawsuits and she is a former library commissioner.

Other honorees include:

Community grand marshals Kin Folkz, Brian "Chickpea" Busta, Billy Curtis, and Soni Wolf. Folkz is an educator and human rights activist. Busta founded Gay Glow Theater, the Temple Whores Drumming troupe, and was a grand duke of the Ducal Court. Curtis is a longtime activist and was hired as UC Berkeley's first full-time director for LGBT resources. He is currently the university's Gender Equity Resource Center director. Wolf is a founding member of Dykes on Bikes and helped the group evolve into a registered nonprofit.

Organizational grand marshal is the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band, the first openly gay musical organization in the world. It was founded in 1978 by the late Jon Sims.

The Heritage of Pride - 10 Years of Service Award will go to Aria Sa'id, a writer and policy strategist who is the founder and director of the Kween Cultural Initiative. She co-founded the Compton's Cultural District.

The Heritage of Pride - Pride Freedom Award recipient is Jen Orthwein, who helped launch the detention project at the Transgender Law Center. She co-founded Medina Orthwein LLP, a queer-owned, civil rights law firm that focuses on employment discrimination and trans prisoner rights.

The Heritage of Pride - Pride Community Award will go to Shaun Haines, a San Francisco native and founder of San Francisco Impact Partners. He also serves on the police chief's LGBT Forum, Castro Community on Patrol, and the Stop the Violence Campaign.

The Heritage of Pride - Pride Creativity Award recipient is Carolyn Wysinger, an author, blogger, high school educator, and host of "The C-Dubb Show" podcast.

The Gilbert Baker Pride Founder's Award will go to Ali Marrero-Calderon, who fought against the Briggs initiative in the late 1970s and worked with the Shanti Project in the early days of the AIDS epidemic. She has belonged to Dykes on Bikes since 1976 and today fights for the rights of old lesbians, particularly old lesbians of color.

The Jose Julio Sarria History Maker Award will go to the FAIR Education Implementation Act. Convened in 2014 by Our Family Coalition, over half a dozen organizations comprise the FAIR Education Act Implementation Committee, which works to see this state law is thoroughly implemented across California.

The Teddy Witherington Award recipient is Kate Kendell, the longtime executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights who announced last month that she is stepping down from the position at the end of this year. Under her leadership, NCLR won the California marriage equality case in 2008 and was later part of the team of attorneys to secure national marriage equality in 2015.

The Audrey Joseph LGBTQ Entertainment Award will go to Pamela Peniston, a founding member and artistic director of the Queer Cultural Center. QCC produces the popular National Queer Arts Festival.

SF Pride takes place June 23-24. This year's theme is "Generations of Strength." For more information, visit

LGBTs named to CA census outreach panel
The aforementioned Kate Kendell, 57, was one of at least three LGBT people named by Governor Jerry Brown and state legislative leaders to the California Complete Count Committee, which will guide the state's outreach for the 2020 federal census.

"It is vitally important for California to do everything it can to ensure that every Californian is counted in the upcoming census," Brown said in an April 13 news release announcing his executive order.

The 25 committee members represent a diverse cross-section of the state, with participants from both the public and private sectors. Brown named 23 people to the committee, while lesbian Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Los Angeles) each appointed one member to the panel.

Other LGBT members are John Joanino, 25, of Los Angeles, who is a senior communications associate at Advancement Project California, and Nicholas Hatten, 43, of Stockton, who is the executive director of the San Joaquin Pride Center.

None of the positions require Senate confirmation and there is no compensation.

Glide's lead pastor quits
The Reverend Dr. Jay Williams, a queer man who last year became the lead pastor at Glide United Methodist Church, announced during last Sunday's sermon that he will be leaving the job.

Williams, no relation to Glide's the Reverend Cecil Williams, had been on the job less than a year.

Loren Meissner, who attended the 9 a.m. service April 15, told the Bay Area Reporter in an email that Williams said he would leave by June. Williams said his resignation was voluntary.

On Glide's Twitter page, it quoted Williams as saying, "I love this place called GLIDE because it's an ideal, it's a people, it's a dream. I love GLIDE. But sometimes loving means leaving."

Glide's Facebook page stated, "Rev. Jay will always be held with love in our GLIDE family! All of us have appreciated the chance to get to know Rev. Jay as a colleague, a friend, and a pastor. Our community has benefited immensely from his intellect, his faith, and his kindness. We wish him happiness and fulfillment as he follows his heart and continues his journey."

Williams did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Dignity coalition to hold mayoral forum
The Dignity Fund Coalition will hold a mayoral forum Thursday, April 26, from 10:30 a.m. to noon at Herbst Theatre, 410 Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco.

The coalition advocates for the needs and concerns of seniors and people with disabilities, and that is planned to be the focus of the forum. In a news release, it pointed out that 25 percent of city residents are seniors and people with disabilities.

According to the release, confirmed participants are: former supervisor Angela Alioto, Board of Supervisors President London Breed, Supervisor Jane Kim, and gay former supervisor and state legislator Mark Leno.

The event is free. To RSVP, visit

Help clean up state parks for Earth Day
State parks across California will be the focus of the California State Parks Foundation's 20th Earth Day Restoration and Cleanup Saturday, April 21.

Volunteers are sought for various projects and will be joined by employees, friends, and family of PG&E, which us the presenting sponsor.

Participating locales in the Bay Area include Angel Island State Park, Benicia State Recreation Area, Candlestick Point State Park, Half Moon Bay State Beach, Mount Diablo State Park, and the Sonoma Coast State Park.

PG&E is providing a $200,000 grant to the parks foundation for supplies and materials needed to complete Earth Day projects across the state. A separate grant of $50,000 has been awarded for projects to help prepare state parks for natural disasters.

To volunteer, visit or call (415) 262-4400. Space is limited, so advance registration is required. Parking fees are waived for Earth Day volunteers.

Petchitecture coming up
Petchitecture, an event showcasing animal habitats that benefits Pets Are Wonderful Support, will be held Wednesday, May 9, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Fairmont Hotel, 950 Mason Street in San Francisco.

This is PAWS' 31st anniversary; the agency that helps people living with HIV/AIDS and other illnesses care for their pets is now part of the Shanti Project.

The evening begins with a reception and silent auction, followed by the program. This year's Dede Wilsey Champion of the Human-Animal Bond Award will be presented to Shireen McSpadden, a lesbian who is the executive director of the San Francisco Department of Aging and Adult Services.

Leashed dogs that are vaccinated are welcome to attend.

Tickets are $200 and can be purchased online at

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