News Briefs: B.A.R. Besties nominations now open

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Wednesday July 20, 2022
Share this Post:
The Bay Area Reporter's Besties poll is now accepting nominations for a variety of people, places, and things that readers love. Illustration: B.A.R.
The Bay Area Reporter's Besties poll is now accepting nominations for a variety of people, places, and things that readers love. Illustration: B.A.R.

Nominations for the LGBTQ community's favorite people, places, and things are now open in the Bay Area Reporter's Besties readers' poll.

The reader-generated contest was dark in 2021 due to the COVID pandemic. The 2020 edition was published shortly after the lockdowns began, as the paper had advertising commitments; voting had been completed before coronavirus disrupted life.

This year, the B.A.R. is asking readers to help design the ballot by nominating their favorites in the following categories: Dining Out, Nightlife, Arts Scene, Community, Shopping and Services, and Weddings and Destinations.

Nominations are open through July 26. Public voting will run July 28 through August 25 (look for a printed ballot in the July 28 issue). Winners will be published in the B.A.R.'s September 29 issue, just before the Castro Street Fair.

To make nominations, click here.

Gay Games Hong Kong launches promotional campaign

Gay Games 11 Hong Kong has launched a new promotional campaign as it hopes to generate excitement ahead of the November 3-11, 2023 event.

The next Gay Games is being co-hosted with Guadalajara, Mexico, representing the first time the LGBTQ-themed athletic events will simultaneously take place in Asia and Latin America.

As the B.A.R. reported in February, David Killian, Federation of Gay Games officer of site selection, said Hong Kong organizers, concerned that international travel to Hong Kong might still be severely restricted in 2023, had approached the FGG with the idea of asking another city to co-host the event simultaneously so that more people would be able to participate. The event had already been postponed from November 2022 because of severe restrictions on travel in and out of Hong Kong.

There have also been concerns about the political climate in Hong Kong>. During the COVID pandemic, a new national security law was imposed on Hong Kong by the mainland government that outlawed demonstrations and speech that the mainland government considered contrary to its interests — specifically its dominion over Hong Kong.

The U.S. State Department currently advises against traveling to Hong Kong, according to its website.

Gay Games Hong Kong's new promotional campaign features an online video and a series of social media influencer activities, according to a news release from FGG and Gay Games 11 Hong Kong. The video shows a diverse range of people from a variety of ethnicities, sexual orientations, religions, gender identities, ages, abilities, professions, and backgrounds, the release stated.

Gay Games Hong Kong will feature opening and closing ceremonies, a festival village, arts and culture events, and other activities to mark the 40th anniversary of the Gay Games, the release noted. Registration opens this summer. Featured sports include mahjong, dodgeball, and dragonboat, which are unique to the Hong Kong Gay Games. Other sports include track and field, marathon, trail running, open water swimming, hockey, and fencing.

The video can be viewed This text will be the linkhere>.

New 988 suicide and crisis line opens

The new 988 suicide and crisis line opened nationwide July 16 as part of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network of crisis centers. The new three-digit dialing code was authorized by Congress in 2020 and is operated through the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255, which remains in service). The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration sees 988 as a first step toward a transformed crisis care system in America, according to a news release from Star Vista, which operates the crisis center in San Mateo County.

"The StarVista Crisis Center is honored to be one of the 13 call centers in the state of California quite literally answering the call of this new initiative," stated Taylor Coutts, program manager of StarVista's Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Hotline. "Our hotline team is ready to support this initiative in this capacity and we look forward to the ways in which this will positively shape crisis services in our communities for years to come."

Anyone experiencing a crisis can call 988.

Sonoma County to acquire former BofA building in Guerneville

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on July 12 unanimously approved a tentative agreement to acquire the former Bank of America building in downtown Guerneville. The move will ensure that residents in the lower Russian River communities will continue to have uninterrupted access to critical services, according to a news release.

The supervisors allocated up to $3 million to purchase the building, where the county has leased office space since 2006. Two county agencies, the Department of Health Services and the Probation Department, share the building with West County Community Services, a local nonprofit.

"With this acquisition, the county will secure an important piece of property for our future," stated District 5 Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, who represents west county. "Taking ownership of the building will avert any disruption to existing services when our lease expires next year. But it also creates an exciting opportunity to improve the delivery of services to residents in west Sonoma County by turning the building into a satellite office for other county agencies, a key element of our ongoing efforts to reimagine the central county government center."

The property, located at 16390 Main Street in Guerneville, includes a 7,784 square foot office building and an adjacent parking lot with more than 30 spaces, the release stated. It has served as a hub for health and welfare services. During floods and fires it has served as a local assistance center.

The building is owned by Patricia Veale and Clement Carinalli, trustees of the Veale Family 2020 Revocable Trust, who accepted the county's offer to buy the property earlier this year, according to the release. The contingent purchase agreement approved by the supervisors is pending the completion of due diligence investigations, the release stated.

Free SamTrans youth pass becomes permanent

The SamTrans Board of Directors voted and approved at its July 6 meeting a pass program that will permanently give low-income students free rides on all SamTrans buses.

According to a news release, the SamTrans Youth Unlimited Pass Program was designed, and will be executed, in partnership with the San Mateo County Office of Education. All students that are classified as socioeconomically disadvantaged, or SED, by the California Department of Education are qualified for the youth unlimited pass, the release stated. SED students include those who are eligible for free and reduced meals, students experiencing homelessness, foster youth, migrant students, or students whose parents did not graduate high school.

"With the youth unlimited pass program now becoming permanent, we are establishing a strong connection between the next generation of public transit riders and SamTrans," stated Peter Ratto, board chair.

Nancy Magee, a lesbian who is the county superintendent of schools, stated that the office is proud to partner with the transit agency.

"Not only does this action provide important transportation options for students, but also helps them develop confidence with public transportation as well as practice environmentally responsible habits," Magee stated.

For more information on the youth unlimited program, click here.

Citizenship office to offer online info sessions

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will offer four free one-hour information sessions this month, including one in Spanish, about the process of becoming a U.S. citizen.

The four naturalization sessions will discuss eligibility requirements, fees, how to file, and how to prepare for the naturalization interview and test, according to a news release. Officials will also be able to answer participants' questions about the naturalization process and online filing.

While some office-specific information will be provided at each information session, the presentations are open to all California residents, the release stated.

Online sessions will take place Thursday, July 21, at 5 p.m. (Los Angeles); Tuesday, July 26, at 12:30 p.m. (San Francisco/San Jose); Wednesday, July 27, at 5:30 p.m. (Sacramento/Central Valley); and Thursday, July 28, at 5 p.m. (Los Angeles, done in Spanish).

Anyone interested in participating can register here.

Help keep the Bay Area Reporter going in these tough times. To support local, independent, LGBTQ journalism, consider becoming a BAR member.