News Briefs: Congressional resolution honors Black LGBTQs

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Wednesday March 1, 2023
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Three Black LGBTQ leaders honored in a congressional resolution are California Supreme Court Justice Martin Jenkins, left, the late Oakland A's baseball player Glenn Burke, and current presidential press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. Photos: Jenkins and Jean-Pierre, courtesy YouTube; Burke, Courtesy Oakland A's
Three Black LGBTQ leaders honored in a congressional resolution are California Supreme Court Justice Martin Jenkins, left, the late Oakland A's baseball player Glenn Burke, and current presidential press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. Photos: Jenkins and Jean-Pierre, courtesy YouTube; Burke, Courtesy Oakland A's

A resolution authored by Congressmember Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) and two gay House members honored Black LGBTQ Americans as Black History Month came to a close.

Joining Lee, a straight ally, in authoring the resolution were Congressmembers Ritchie Torres (D-New York) and Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin). All are members of the Congressional Equality Caucus, of which Lee is a founding member and current vice chair, and Pocan is the current chair.

The resolution, introduced February 27, has 32 co-sponsors, including co-leads, a news release stated. It needs to be voted on by the House.

Lee recently announced that she is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California).

"For generations, we have seen the erasure of Black LGBTQI+ Americans from our history, despite all of the rich and impactful contributions these individuals have made to our culture, society, and the advancement of civil rights," Lee stated in the release.

Torres, who identifies as Afro-Latino, added, "Black LGBTQ+ Americans have made countless and indelible contributions to our society that have enriched our lives, informed our history, and enhanced our culture across so many industries and institutions."

The list of those honored in the resolution is a mix of living and deceased Black LGBTQ leaders. Among those recognized are Justice Martin Jenkins, the first openly LGBTQ person to serve on the California Supreme Court after Governor Gavin Newsom nominated him in 2020; the late Oakland A's baseball player Glenn Burke; and Karine Jean-Pierre, a lesbian who currently serves as press secretary to President Joe Biden.

Others listed include lesbian Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot; queer Black Lives Matters co-founders Patrisse Cullors and Alicia Garza; and Andrea Jenkins, the first transgender woman to be elected to public office in Minnesota, where she serves on the Minneapolis City Council.

For a complete list, click here.

Leather district takes over 'Dildeaux' awards

Nominations are now open for the 51st annual Golden Dildeaux Awards, which this year have been taken over by the San Francisco Leather & LGBTQ Cultural District. A time-honored tradition in the leather community that had been produced by the Golden Gate Guards for the last 28 years, the awards are a good-humored contest for the sometimes-coveted, sometimes-embarrassing categories with suggestive subjects and names, a news release stated.

The awards also serve as a fundraiser as votes cost $1 each, with proceeds benefiting the emergency financial assistance program of PRC. Everyone is entitled to an unlimited number of votes for five nominees in 26 categories, the release stated. Some of the cheeky categories include "best sex," "biggest pig," and "best fister."

The winners will be revealed the night of the Woodies Awards ceremony where they will come onstage to receive their Woody trophies. The Woodies take place Saturday, April 22, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the SF Eagle, 398 12th Street.

The leather district noted that the Dildeaux awards have a storied history. In 1974, the late Bay Area Reporter leather columnist Mister Marcus (Marcus Hernandez) founded them at the old Boot Camp Bar to raise money for the Tavern Guild Freedom Day parade float. By 1985, the awards had become a fundraiser for the old AIDS Emergency Fund (then known as the SF AIDS Fund).

In 1994, Hernandez asked the Golden Gate Guards to take on the awards, which the group did for 28 years, the release stated, building it from cardboard donation boxes in various bars to online voting and payments.

The Guards decided to dissolve last year, the release noted, at its 36th anniversary party. Members then turned over the Dildeaux awards to the leather district, which is honored to continue the tradition, officials stated.

In 2018, AEF merged with PRC.

The deadline for nominations is Thursday, March 9. Those will be revealed at the Golden Dildeaux launch party and beer bust Sunday, March 12, from 3 to 7 p.m. at the SF Eagle, after which voting begins. Balloting ends Thursday, April 20.

To make a nomination, click here. For more information, go to its website.

National LGBTQ coming out hotline now openK

The LGBT National Help Center has launched its newest program, a coming out support hotline. According to a news release, the hotline focuses specifically on the concerns of those who are struggling with coming out issues, regardless of age or how each person defines that process. All services are free and confidential, and the hotline is staffed by LGBTQIA+ volunteers.

The LGBT National Help Center, based in San Francisco, is a nonprofit organization with a 26-year history of providing coming out services, the release stated.

Hotline volunteers would not tell someone to come out, the release noted, as that is a highly personal decision. But the peer volunteers can provide a safe space on the phone to discuss and consider a person's physical and mental safety, as well as their options and how they might choose to move forward.

"When people in our community are considering one of the most important decisions of their lives, together we can provide critical support and care to those in the LGBTQIA+ community who are terrified to simply be themselves," stated Aaron Almanza, executive director of the hotline.

While every conversation may not end with a decision on coming out or not, the safe space and ability for callers to connect with LGBTQ peer volunteers is important, the release stated.

The hotline phone number is 1-888-OUT-LGBT (1-888-688-5428) and the dedicated website is www.lgbtcomingout.org.

Oakland veterans call for city commission

A group of Oakland veterans is calling on the city to establish a commission that would represent and advocate for their needs on issues such as homelessness, mental health, housing, and employment.

Three veterans are behind the effort: Diane Williamson, CEO of the Veterans Community Media Network; Charles Blatcher III, chairman of the National Coalition of Black Veterans Organizations; and Jeff Sheibels, a member of the American Legion National Legislative Council.

Sheibels, who served in the U.S. Coast Guard, said that LGBTQ veterans in Oakland are welcome to join the effort.

In a news release, the three pointed out that California is home to over 1.8 million former service members, which is the largest veteran population in the U.S. According to the U.S. census, 11,585 live in Oakland. Of these, an estimated 529 veterans are homeless and over 1,000 either suffer from chronic homelessness or are at risk of becoming homeless, the release stated.

The advocates also pointed out that the VA housing program can take six months or longer to place a veteran in housing or to provide rental assistance. "Many of the offices, which are run by the Veterans Administration, are in the Oakland Federal Building and very difficult to get into when you are in need of assistance," the release noted. The Oakland Vet Center is near Oakland International Airport and is not easy to get to via public transit, while the Alameda County veterans service office is located in the old Eastmont Mall, which they said is in an unsafe neighborhood.

Williamson, Blatcher, and Sheibels think a city commission would be able to advise the mayor and City Council, provide a plan for reducing veteran homelessness, and assist in having the county relocate its veterans center. They would also like a VA hospital in the county, as currently veterans must seek care at the San Francisco VA, which also takes a great deal of time to travel to, they noted.

There will be a call to action Thursday, March 9, at noon at Oakland City Hall, 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, to raise awareness and ask Oaklanders for their support.

For more information, see the change.org petition.

IRS extends tax deadline in Bay Area

The IRS has announced that a previous May deadline for disaster area taxpayers in California has been extended to October 16.

Senator Alex Padilla (D-California) tweeted February 27 that most of California is included in the disaster area, a result of the winter storms in late December and January, including all nine Bay Area counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma.

According to an IRS news release, "The additional relief postpones until October 16, various tax filing and payment deadlines, including those for most calendar-year 2022 individual and business returns. This includes: Individual income tax returns, originally due on April 18; various business returns, normally due on March 15 and April 18; and returns of tax-exempt organizations, normally due on May 15."

The new deadline also includes disaster area taxpayers in Alabama and Georgia.

For more information, the IRS release is available here.

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