News Briefs: Sha'ar Zahav to hold Pride Seder

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Wednesday June 17, 2020
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Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland
Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland

Congregation Sha'ar Zahav will hold an online Community Pride Seder Monday, June 22, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

An email from the predominately LGBT synagogue noted that all are welcome to join in. The event held by Sha'ar Zahav in partnership with the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.

"Each year during Pride Month, members of Sha'ar Zahav in San Francisco come together to commemorate our emancipation from oppression, to celebrate our freedom, and to re-commit to our activism, remembering that none of us are free until all of us are free," the event page reads. "We read from a Pride Haggadah and discuss the items on a Seder plate that represent our history. This year, we will celebrate Community Pride Seder online, together with community members, LGBTQ Jewish clergy, as well as civic and interfaith leaders."

Haggadah readers will include gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, lesbian Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan, and gay small business owner Manny Yekutiel.

Others will be Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf; Dan Bernal, a gay man who is local chief of staff for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco); and Michael Pappas, a gay man who's executive director of the San Francisco Interfaith Council.

To register, go to

A Zoom link will be sent to registered participants.

Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria Chairman Greg Sarris. Photo: Courtesy Graton Resort and Casino  

Graton Casino set to reopen
Graton Resort and Casino will begin a phased reopening Thursday, June 18, at 8 a.m., several months after being shuttered due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Greg Sarris, a gay man who's tribal chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, said he and his team worked closely with state and Sonoma County health officials to institute a number of new policies and procedures — introduced in phases — to keep both guests and workers safe.

The casino, located in Rohnert Park, first opened in 2013. A hotel was added about three years later.

Changes include thermal cameras, electrostatic sprayers, physical distancing, hand sanitizers, and appropriate distancing at slot machines and table games.

Additionally, face coverings are required for guests and staff at all times.

The restaurants and bars will be open with modified reduced seating capacity; cocktail service and room service are both available.

Concerts and entertainment have been canceled. The salon and spa, fitness center, and valet are temporarily suspended. Bus service from select Bay Area cities will resume June 29.

Graton has been a supporter of the LGBT community, as well as other groups, over the years. In 2016, Sarris appeared at the Rainbow Cattle Company in Guerneville to present a check for $10,000 to help the survivors of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida.

He told the Bay Area Reporter then that the resort's priority is making everybody feel welcome.

"The only thing not tolerated here is intolerance," said Sarris. "I love seeing gay, lesbian, and transgender people walking in here, and holding hands in the bars and restaurants."

For more information, visit

Queer radio show returns to airwaves
"Out in the Bay — Queer Radio from San Francisco" returns to the air — and listeners' earbuds — this week.

The show will air Wednesdays at 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., and Saturdays at 9:30 a.m., on KSFP 102.5 FM in San Francisco. It will stream at those times on KSFP's website and will be available on-demand on popular podcast platforms and at

Founding producer Eric Jansen stated in a news release that Comcast California and San Francisco Public Press, which operates the aforementioned radio station, are supporting the relaunch.

"Out in the Bay" had a loyal following during its decade-plus run on San Francisco public radio station KALW from 2004 to 2016. The show blends journalism and oral history to bring listeners news, conversation, and commentary from and about LGBTI people.

"As with many journalistic and creative endeavors that celebrate non-mainstream communities, the project was a non-paid 'labor of love,'" Jansen stated. "I had to put it on hold in 2016 to care for my aging mom."

Comcast is supporting the show for a 10-week relaunch series. Beth Hester, vice president of external affairs for the company, stated it's just one way to elevate LGBTQ voices and celebrate the region's diversity.

KSFP programming director Mel Baker said he was thrilled to see the show return to the airwaves.

"The award-winning show will be one of the crown jewels of the station and serves our mission to provide a platform for the diverse communities of San Francisco," he stated.

For more information, visit the "Out in the Bay" website.

SF Muni survey
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is conducting an online survey as it works to restore service amid COVID-19.

"As San Francisco and the SFMTA begins the restart process, we are seeking input to help develop a Transportation Recover Plan," an email from the agency stated. "This plan will include service and operational strategies, such as expansion of Muni service, frequency, and operation, once the city begins to reopen."

The survey is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Filipino and takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. To do so, go to

AIDS grove accepting scholarship applications
The National AIDS Memorial Grove has announced that applications are now being accepted for its Pedro Zamora Young Leaders Scholarship.

The grove will award 10 financial scholarships between $2,500 and $5,000 for the Fall 2020/Spring 2021 semesters.

The scholarship is named in honor of Zamora, an AIDS educator, activist, and reality television pioneer who died more than 25 years ago of AIDS-related illness. Zamora appeared on MTV's "The Real World: San Francisco" in 1994. Before appearing on the show, he had already been an active HIV/AIDS advocate and educator. At age 17 he learned that he was a young man living with HIV. He died in November 1994 at age 22.

The scholarship helps support the education of young people who are engaged in a variety of HIV-related work in their schools, communities, and chosen academic fields.

"The Pedro Zamora Young Leaders Scholarship is helping support the next generation of HIV/AIDS educators, researchers, health providers, and advocates who are committed to the fight against this disease, which is now in its fourth decade," stated John Cunningham, executive director of the grove.

Gilead Sciences is the major funder and partner for the scholarship, providing a $50,000 grant to the AIDS grove to support the program. The scholarship is open to all current high school seniors and college freshmen, sophomores, and juniors (ages 27 and younger) who meet various requirements.

The application deadline is Monday, July 20. For more information, visit

ALRP receives Gilead grants
The aforementioned Gilead Sciences has awarded three grants to the AIDS Legal Referral Panel, which will allow the agency to provide essential services to people living with HIV/AIDS.

The grants total $175,000, according to a news release from ALRP.

"These funds will go a long way toward enabling ALRP to continue to be there for the growing number of clients coming to us for legal help, especially during this new health crisis," longtime agency Executive Director Bill Hirsh stated, referring to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

ALRP was deemed an essential service and has remained open during the shelter-in-place orders that are only now beginning to be eased. Most staff and panel attorneys have been working remotely, Hirsh previously told the B.A.R. At the time ALRP was monitoring evictions, which it will continue to do.

"While there are many legal areas that directly impact the health of people living with HIV, including immigration, disability insurance, and estate planning, there is no issue of greater importance to people living with HIV than housing," Hirsh stated.

He added that ALRP expects to handle a record number of housing cases this year because of COVID-19. He also anticipates a reduction in federal dollars.

"This emergency funding from Gilead is literally a lifeline for ALRP and our clients, and could not have come at a better time," Hirsh added.

Darwin Thompson, associate director of public affairs for Gilead, stated that the company was "pleased" to support ALRP's work to address and eliminate health disparities, especially those for HIV-related disparities in the Bay Area.

"We believe this is a critical time to continue to support local programs that are working to improve the health and wellness of those living with HIV," he stated.

For more information about ALRP, visit

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