News Briefs: Wiener secures $5.5M for LGBTQ museum in CA budget

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Wednesday July 6, 2022
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The GLBT Historical Society Museum in the Castro. Photo: Courtesy GLBT Historical Society Museum
The GLBT Historical Society Museum in the Castro. Photo: Courtesy GLBT Historical Society Museum

Among the $19.8 million in state budget funds that gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) obtained for San Francisco needs, $5.5 million will help establish the first full-scale LGBTQ history museum in the city.

In a June 30 news release just before the Legislature began its summer recess, Wiener noted that the project, which has been in the works for years, "will also serve as a community gathering space for lectures and events, and as an economic driver for San Francisco, bringing in visitors from around the world."

As the Bay Area Reporter has reported, the GLBT Historical Society has sought to relocate from its small museum in a leased storefront on 18th Street in the LGBTQ Castro neighborhood. It has sought to find a larger, more permanent location, preferably in the Castro. San Francisco Mayor London Breed budgeted $12 million in the city's fiscal year 2021-2022 budget toward the purchase of a site where the society can build what is billed as the first large-scale, freestanding LGBTQ history museum in the country.

Andrew Shaffer, a gay man who is interim co-executive director of the historical society, said the organization was pleased with the allocation.

"We are immensely grateful to Senator Wiener and all of our allies in Sacramento for their continued support of LGBTQ history," Shaffer wrote in an email. "As legislators across the country are looking for ways to erode our rights, we are proud to be represented by those who stand with us and help keep LGBTQ history alive.

"Education is a powerful antidote to hate, and we connect tens of thousands of people with LGBTQ history every year through our museum, archives, events, and online resources," he added. "A full-scale museum of LGBTQ history will help to reach even more people, and re-affirm San Francisco's place at the forefront of the movement for LGBTQ rights."

Shaffer explained that opening a new museum is "a long process" and encouraged those who are interested to check out the historical society's website and make a donation if they are able.

Breed praised the state funding. In a release she noted that the city has been evaluating various sites over the last year and has funded an economic analysis to ensure the project's success.

Gay District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who has been involved in the discussions of what property to purchase in the Castro to situate a museum, told the B.A.R. the state funding will help with the build out costs for the museum project.

"We now have a good amount of funds to pay, not just for finding it, but wherever the site we settle on is, it's going to need probably at least millions of dollars of work," said Mandelman. "I am really glad both the city and state are prioritizing us, and Scott was able to get these funds. Now we've got to find the right spot."

Part of the problem, said Mandelman, is the sky-high asking prices for properties in the city's LGBTQ neighborhood.

"A lot of property owners have unrealistic expectations of what they should be able to get for their properties," he said. "I think the city is willing to pay a premium but is not willing to pay a ridiculous amount."

Other projects that received funding through Wiener's efforts include $5 million for the Sunnydale HUB, a community service and recreation center in southeastern San Francisco; $500,000 for the Tenderloin Museum's basement expansion project; $2.1 million to the California Academy of Sciences to fund its Thriving California environmental learning plan; $5 million to upgrade the SF Market in Bayview-Hunters Point; and $1.7 million to the Box Shop, a collaborative art workspace that hopes to purchase a new site in Bayview-Hunters Point.

"With California's historic budget surplus, now is the time to deeply invest in our community, particularly in key infrastructure needs," Wiener stated.

Breed stated that the projects "will help ensure that San Franciscans, especially in communities that have historically been underserved, have access to support and resources to live fulfilling lives."

Sunday Streets Valencia returns

Sunday Streets SF 2022 returns to the Mission district on Valencia Street, between Duboce Avenue and 26th Street, Sunday, July 10, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

A program of the nonprofit Livable City, Sunday Streets encourages residents and visitors to stroll along a mile-long car-free block party that is outdoor fun for everyone, a news release stated.

Activities will include dancing in the streets, outdoor dining, exercising in the pop-up recreation facilities, and supporting local vendors.

The Sunday Streets program is supported by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, San Francisco Public Works, and the Shape Up SF Coalition.

"Sunday Streets allows neighborhoods to experience and breathe life into their own vision of what car-free streets can and should do for their community," stated Jeffrey Tumlin, a gay man who's SFMTA director.

For more information on Sunday Streets, including upcoming events in the South of Market and Western Addition, click here.

Kory Powell-McCoy, left, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-San Francisco) district office, presented Redwood Credit Union's Eric Maldonado with GGBA's award, along with Terry Beswick, right, GGBA executive director. Photo: Courtesy Faceb  

Credit union receives GGBA award
The Golden Gate Business Association, the world's first LGBTQ chamber of commerce, recently recognized Redwood Credit Union with its 2022 Corporate Sponsor of the Year Award.

In a June 20 Facebook post, Terry Beswick, a gay man who is executive director of GGBA, stated that the credit union is a local financial cooperative with offices throughout the North Bay and in San Francisco. The Civic Center branch serves more than 17,000 members, he noted.

"With this award, RCU is being recognized not only for its consistent support for the GGBA, but for its unwavering commitment to its communities, including its #LGBTQ+, BIPOC, and small business partners," Beswick wrote, referring to Black, Indigenous, and people of color.

The award was presented at GGBA's Power Connect event. In a Facebook comment Eric Maldonado of Redwood Credit Union thanked GGBA for the award.

Presidio Tunnel Tops prepares for opening
The Partnership for the Presidio has announced opening season programs at San Francisco's long-awaited new national park destination — Presidio Tunnel Tops. According to a news release, the slate of programs was co-curated by the Presidio Activator Council, composed of Bay Area leaders, activists, and artists representing communities historically underrepresented in national parks. The council's goal was to work with the community to include experiences that reflect the region's cultural vibrancy and invite people from around the Bay Area to visit the site, the release stated.

Presidio Tunnel Tops is a new 14-acre national park experience at the heart of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It was overseen by a gay man, Michael Boland, chief of park development and visitor engagement for the Presidio Trust, as the Bay Area Reporter previously reported. The Tunnel Tops includes scenic overlooks, trails, picnic areas, and gathering spaces with stunning bridge and city views, surrounded by gardens and meadows that include 180 varieties of plants native to the Presidio, the release stated.

The Presidio Tunnel Tops will open Sunday, July 17, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and include a new art installation, entertainment, pop-up food trucks, and National Park Service ranger talks at the Campfire Circle.

Future events will include First Sunday Afternoons, from 1 to 4 p.m., on August 7, September 4, October 2, and November 6. Upcoming events are free.

For more information, click here.

U.S. Bank Castro employees celebrated the recent reopening of the branch in the city's LGBTQ neighborhood. Photo: Courtesy U.S. Bank  

U.S. Bank reopens Castro branch
U.S. Bank recently announced the reopening of its Castro branch at 443 Castro Street following a remodel that officials said brings a new look and feel to it, along with design enhancements.

According to a news release, the 1,820 square foot Castro branch is one of four U.S. Bank's LGBTQ+ flagship branches (the other three are in West Hollywood, Capitol Hill in Seattle, and Lakeview in Chicago). The branches feature year-round, Pride-themed artwork.

"U.S. Bank has been serving the Castro district for nearly 20 years and today we are deepening our investment in this vibrant community by bringing an updated and refreshed branch experience," Priscilla Singh, branch manager of the Castro location, stated during the June 22 ribbon-cutting. "We are also reinvesting in the community groups that serve our LGBTQ+ community and continue the important work that started here in the Castro."

During the event, the bank donated $2,500 to the San Francisco LGBT Community Center to support its mission of building a stronger, healthier, and more equitable world for LGBTQ+ people and allies; and $2,500 to the Transgender District, which seeks to foster the rich history, culture, legacy, and empowerment of transgender people and its deep roots in the southeastern Tenderloin neighborhood, the release stated.

The Castro bank branch offers business and commercial banking, as well as mortgage services. The branch also has a walk-up ATM.

A spokesperson said the bank was not able to disclose the cost of the remodel.

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