News Briefs: Pacific Center to honor Ewing at 50th anniversary

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Wednesday May 24, 2023
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Leslie Ewing will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pacific Center for Human Growth. Photo: Courtesy Leslie Ewing
Leslie Ewing will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pacific Center for Human Growth. Photo: Courtesy Leslie Ewing

Former executive director and longtime lesbian leader Leslie Ewing will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pacific Center for Human Growth at the nonprofit's 50th anniversary celebration Saturday, June 3, from 6:30 p.m. to midnight at the Berkeley Panoramic Building, an outdoor space located at 2539 Telegraph Avenue.

The Berkeley LGBTQ community center is the oldest in the Bay Area and the third oldest in the country. Ewing led the organization from 2008 to 2019. Prior to that, she served on the board of the former AIDS Emergency Fund (later merged with PRC) and worked as a buyer for the old Under One Roof organization that raised funds for HIV/AIDS nonprofits.

In an email, Ewing stated that it was "humbling" to be receiving the honor.

"Fifty continuous years of supporting LGBTQIA+ and QTBIPOC people, and their families, is an accomplishment that only three community centers in America can claim," Ewing wrote, referring to queer, trans, Black, Indigenous, and people of color. "Pacific Center is one of them, and it was a personal highlight and honor to have served 10 years as the organization's executive director."

The oldest continuously operating LGBTQ centers in the U.S. are in Albany, New York, which opened in 1970, according to its website, and the Los Angeles LGBT Center, which started in 1969, its website states.

"I do think I understand why the organization has thrived throughout the years, even in the face of daunting challenges," Ewing added. "The Pacific Center community has always embraced anyone and everyone who've crossed its threshold. The organization does not take the position of 'There is room for you at our table,' but rather, 'This table was built just for you!' It has sometimes been challenging to stay true to that value, but doing so is a core value and why today Pacific Center celebrates 50 years."

Other people the Pacific Center is honoring will be therapist Taunya Black, M.A., who will receive the Organizational Culture Shift Award; Horizons Foundation, which will be recognized with the Community Partnership Award; and Henry van der Voort III, who will receive the Volunteer Service Award.

One of the unique things about the center is that it operates the only sliding scale mental health clinic for LGBTQIA+ and queer Black, Indigenous, and people of color and their families in Alameda County, according to its website.

"Golden Dreams" is the theme of the upcoming gala. It will feature emcee Sister Tilda NexTime of the drag nun group Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence; the Oakland Gay Men's Chorus; and So Lauren as musical entertainment.

There are several things the center is working on for its next 50 years, its website notes. One is that it will be moving into a new building this year. As the Bay Area Reporter previously reported, the center's longtime home at 2712 Telegraph Avenue was sold last year. Plans call for the building and another one on the lot to be demolished and replaced with a five-story, mixed-use building containing 35 apartments.

Executive Director Lasara Firefox Allen, a nonbinary pansexual person who took the helm at the center a year ago, noted that the new facility will enable the agency to expand service programs. The agency also wants to prioritize equity across its programs and increase outreach to LGBTQ seniors and queer and BIPOC youth.

Tickets for the gala are $250 and include the after-party at Que Rio Nightclub, 381 15th Street in Oakland, owned by gay nightlife promoter Valentino Carrillo. It will feature a show on the outdoor stage and dancing into the early morning hours. Tickets for the after-party only are sliding scale $25-$50.

For tickets and more information, go to

B.A.R. takes prizes in CNPA contest

The B.A.R. received three prizes in the recent California News Publishers Association contest. The entries were in the weeklies circulation 11,001-25,000 category.

The paper took third place in the general excellence category. "The Bay Area Reporter provides a wide range of LGBTQ-centered content through compelling writing across a wide range of verticals," a judge's note stated. "I found the political content to be graspable and compelling, and particularly enjoyed the profiles presented on the front pages."

Entry credit went to Michael Yamashita, publisher; Cynthia Laird, news editor; Matthew S. Bajko, assistant editor; Jim Provenzano, arts editor; and Scott Wazlowski, vice president of advertising.

The B.A.R. also took third place in election coverage for Bajko's article on the San Jose mayor's race.

Finally, the paper's arts section won third place. Entry credit went to Provenzano, Gregg Shapiro, Brian Bromberger, Philip Mayard, and Jim Gladstone.

Yamashita praised the staff and contributors.

"I'm extremely proud of our team for this distinction by our fellow California news publishers, especially since there are many other deserving publications in the state," he stated. "I am very pleased that Matthew Bajko has been individually recognized for his excellent reporting on LGBTQ politics, as well as Jim Provenzano for his editorial oversight of our Arts & Nightlife section."

Entertainers performed at the 2019 Carnaval San Francisco. Photo: Kyle Adler  

Carnaval San Francisco
Carnaval San Francisco is expected to fill the streets in the city's Mission neighborhood Saturday and Sunday, May 27-28. This year's theme is "Celebrating 45 Years of Music and Movement," and people can enjoy the two-day festival as well as the Grand Parade on Sunday, which starts at 9:30 a.m. at Gray Area/Grand Theater, 2665 Mission Street.

The free festival runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days and encompasses Harrison Street and adjacent streets between 16th and 24th streets. The website notes that there will be multiple stages throughout the 17-block festival footprint, as well as DJ block parties. Highlights also include a lowrider car show, skate jam, and plenty of food vendors.

Carnaval is a project of the nonprofit Cultura y Arte Nativa de las Americas.

For more information, including the festival entertainment schedule, go to

Groups involved with Castro Theatre to receive award
The Castro Theatre Conservancy and the Castro LGBTQ Cultural District will receive a joint award from the Art Deco Society of California for their efforts as Friends of the Castro Theatre Coalition fighting to save the fixed orchestra seating in the historic movie palace.

Another Planet Entertainment, which took over management of the theater last year, wants to remove the orchestra seating and replace it with a motorized device that would allow for theater-style seating or standing for concerts. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on the matter June 6, as the B.A.R. previously reported.

In a news release, the Berkeley-based Art Deco Society praised the groups' efforts to preserve the fixed seating, stating that with movie theaters being endangered across the Bay Area, the local preservation groups working to keep them alive are being recognized.

The cultural district did not respond to a request for comment.

The award will be presented at the 37th annual Art Deco Preservation Ball that takes place Saturday, May 27, from 7 p.m. to midnight at the historic Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway in Oakland.

Other honorees will include The Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, which will receive the Michael Crowe Award; and Greg King, who will be recognized with the Art Deco Technology Award. Preservationists being honored include the Film Noir Foundation, the Los Gatos Theatre, and the Paramount Theatre. The Friends of the California Theatre and architectural historian Daniella Thompson will be recognized for their work on landmarking the California Theatre in Berkeley.

A special legacy award will go to Jack Bethards, who envisioned the original restoration of the Paramount in 1973, the release stated.

Tickets are $165 for society members and sister society members and $195 for non-members. For tickets and more information, go to

SF Pride Run coming up
The San Francisco Front Runners annual Pride benefit run will take place Saturday, June 24, at 9 a.m. in Golden Gate Park. The 5K/10K run is open to walkers and casual and avid runners, a news release stated.

Organizers said that this year's beneficiary is the Oakland-based Transgender Law Center, which works on laws and policies so that people can live safely and authentically.

Early registration for the run is $40 through May 31; the cost increases to $45 through June 23 and is $50 on race day. Registration includes a T-shirt, subject to availability for those who sign up on the day of the event.

Awards will be presented to the female, male, and nonbinary overall top finishers and in each age group. Bag storage will be available.

To register or for more information, click here.

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