Letters to the editor

  • by BAR staff
  • Wednesday October 25, 2023
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Letters to the editor

Editorial puts the brakes on SFPD remedy

The editorial in the October 19 Bay Area Reporter ["Breed's ballot measure isn't about public safety"] regarding the mayor's attempts to avoid the roadblocks the police department faces when it is trying to do the job the residents of San Francisco want and need them to do is exactly the kind of pointless rhetoric that puts the brakes on any real attempt toward a remedy. What do you want? To maintain the status quo? Breed wants officers to be able to pursue suspects, she wants police to have access to cameras and surveillance technologies, and more of their time spent on the streets than behind a desk. Absolutely! The conclusion that "people are fed up with property crimes in the city" suggests the better alternative is to hire more officers. It doesn't have to be one or the other.

George Knuepfel

San Francisco

Smoking on patios puts workers at risk

Regarding "Group advocates for SF, Oakland bar patios to be smokefree" [October 19]: I wanted to highlight how this is also a worker's rights issue.

It's unfortunate that employees working at bars allowing smoking on their patios often find themselves facing hours of exposure to toxic secondhand smoke throughout their shift. This issue hits close to home, as I've witnessed the impact on my family members who've had to work in restaurants and bars where smoking was allowed.

One family member, my uncle, used to work in the kitchen of a restaurant/bar back when indoor smoking was still permitted. Each day after work, he would come home smelling like smoke, and my cousin would experience terrible coughing fits, which they later discovered were asthma attacks triggered by the lingering scent of smoke on my uncle and his clothing. The connection took some time to make, and it was a difficult decision, but my uncle ultimately had to quit his job to protect my cousin's health. As the sole breadwinner for a family of four, this was a significant decision, and they faced their share of challenges during the transition. However, the improvement in my cousin's health made it clear it was the right choice.

A younger cousin of mine, who was also undocumented, wasn't as fortunate. He worked as a busser at a bar in the Bay Area, the only job he could find that paid a livable wage. Unfortunately, the bar had an outdoor smoking area, and he had to endure secondhand smoke throughout his shift for the few years he worked there. This is the reality for many bar workers, who are often young, low-income, and of Latinx background, just like my cousin.

A policy that promotes smoke-free bar patios would be incredibly beneficial for bar workers.

With this reality in mind, I'd like to invite you to a community event called "Dine & Discuss," hosted by the project I work for, LGBTQ Minus Tobacco. This gathering is designed to raise awareness about the importance of smoke-free bar patios and explore the positive impact of smoke-free environments, both for employees and those working to quit smoking.

The event will take place in Oakland on Thursday, October 26, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the East Bay Community Space (507 55th Street), and dinner will be provided.

To RSVP, visit the event page on Facebook.

Jimmy Ancira (he/him)

Community Health Outreach Worker

LGBTQ Minus Tobacco

San Francisco

Thinking of a sequel to 'To Wong Foo'

My cousin was the Spanish activist, painter, and performance artist Jose Perez Ocaña, "La Ocaña." In 1983, I was the victim of brutal hate crimes that were reprisals against my cousin's art and activism. Though the main perpetrator is now finally facing justice for some of the crimes he committed, true justice will be when the history of my cousin's unselfish heroism is finally revealed.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the 1995 film "To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar." I remember when it came out I went to see the movie by myself. The film was too personal to watch with anyone because I couldn't even begin to explain what I intuitively felt the film would mean to me. "To Wong Foo" made me laugh, made me cry, and made me see what I always knew: drag queens empowered not just the queer community, but everyone.

Every time I have seen "To Wong Foo" has been a metaphor to Wong Foo's metaphor, a metaphor for God, "because you have to thank God for everything. You have to be grateful for life. You just have to stop where you are and say thank you for everything."

In Spanish there is a fine line between the words for despair and desperation. Sometimes I do not know what to do but turn to God, and remember the late poet Francisco X. Alarcon always said writing a poem was like entering a temple of prayer. I have found myself writing the synopsis for a sequel to "To Wong Foo" — Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo reprise their roles as Ms. Noxeema and Ms. Chi-Chi, respectively, and they team up with Paris Hilton, and the drag and poetry communities around the world. Everyone comes together to help a 47-year-old survivor of Provo Canyon school, and her two cousins, one of them a really annoying 49-year-old poet, who is always quoting other poets and losing the notebooks she writes in, and the other, a 52-year-old grandmother and former manager of a Hobby Lobby store, find their beloved cousin who had been a queer icon, labor activist, human rights activist, and harm reductionist during Spain's transition to democracy. In this sequel there will be more discussions about the symbol of "To Wong Foo" that reveal how though truth is stranger than fiction, art can always help us find hope.

Nicole Henares, aka Aurelia Lorca

Half Moon Bay, California

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