Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterSubscribeRSS Feed

Opinion » News

Out in the Bay: Yekutiel has a mission to revive civil discourse

by Kendra Klang and Eric Jansen

Manny Yekutiel says he came to San Francisco, like many before him, "as a gay refugee, basically — a gay pilgrim." Photo: David Perry & Associates
Manny Yekutiel says he came to San Francisco, like many before him, "as a gay refugee, basically — a gay pilgrim." Photo: David Perry & Associates  

Can we have civil civic discourse in these fractious times? Manny Yekutiel, activist and owner of the eponymous cafe, bookstore, and civic events space in San Francisco's Mission district, passionately believes so.

Yekutiel opened Manny's, his "people-powered and community-focused meeting and learning place" on Election Night in 2018 to encourage civic engagement and discussion — in person.

"We used to go places to engage in political discourse — the union halls, the political coffee shops of San Francisco, lecture halls, even the dinner table. This is where we figured it out," Yekutiel said on this week's Out in the Bay. "The internet has supplanted these places and that's why I built a physical space where people can come together physically — and for now, digitally — to learn from each other. To ask questions and actually learn."

Gay, Jewish, and from a politically and socially conservative Orthodox family, Yekutiel personally knows something about the importance of civil dialogue. His family of origin "all voted for Donald Trump in both elections."

"Having a Trump-voting family has informed how I think about civil and civic discourse," Yekutiel said. "And also, when NOT to bring up a topic."

Since its opening just over two years ago, Manny's has hosted hundreds of events — initially in person, now virtually — on topics ranging from politics to climate change, criminal justice reform, and LGBTQ rights.

Past speakers have included queer Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza, former President Barack Obama's campaign manager David Plouffe and, during their campaigns, Georgia's new U.S. senators, Democrats Jon Ossoff and the Reverend Raphael Warnock. And just this week, Manny's hosted a virtual inauguration watch party and five online sessions about the January 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection, one of which was with new Black gay Congressman Ritchie Torres (D-New York).

Yekutiel talks about all this and much more on this week's Out in the Bay with host Eric Jansen. He's intelligent, inspiring, caring, and compassionate. He's on fire!

Hear more from Manny Yekutiel on this week's Out in the Bay — Queer Radio from San Francisco. The program re-airs at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, January 23, on KSFP 102.5 FM in San Francisco only, and is available anytime on Out in the Bay's website. Out in the Bay also airs 10 p.m. Tuesdays on KALW, 91.7 FM throughout the Bay Area.

Eric Jansen hosts and Kendra Klang produces Out in the Bay — Queer Radio from San Francisco. Learn more and listen at https://www.outinthebay.org/

Help keep the Bay Area Reporter going in these tough times. To support local, independent, LGBTQ journalism, consider becoming a BAR member.

Comments on Facebook