News Briefs: SF Eagle Bar receives $10K in grant funds

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Wednesday December 20, 2023
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SF Eagle Bar owner Lex Montiel, left, accepts a $10,000 grant from SF New Deal Executive Director Simon Bertrang during a December 16 ceremony. Photo: Omar Morales
SF Eagle Bar owner Lex Montiel, left, accepts a $10,000 grant from SF New Deal Executive Director Simon Bertrang during a December 16 ceremony. Photo: Omar Morales

The SF Eagle Bar held a special ceremony last weekend in recognition of it being awarded a $10,000 arts and culture grant from SF New Deal via a partnership with the city's Shared Spaces program.

Lex Montiel, owner of the Eagle, located at 398 12th Street in the city's South of Market neighborhood and anchoring the San Francisco Leather & LGBTQ Cultural District, accepted the grant.

"We are honored to be chosen for this grant," Montiel stated in a news release. "The SF Eagle Bar is dedicated to supporting local artists and performers by fostering a vibrant queer culture that is accessible to all."

Montiel added that the funds will "grow our support of local performers, promoters, and artists who enrich our community and make events, such as Eagle Plaza Pride and Leather Pride Fest, possible."

Speakers at the December 16 event included gay political leaders state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey, and District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman. Also making remarks were SF New Deal Executive Director Simon Bertrang and chief program officer and co-founder Jacob Bindman. SF New Deal is a nonprofit that works to respond to unmet small business needs, according to its website.

Eagle Plaza, which is adjacent to the bar, was created as the result of a community benefit deal with Build Inc., which constructed a housing project across the street. As the Bay Area Reporter previously reported, the firm agreed to pay for the majority of the parklet as a condition for securing approval of its housing development.

In 2021, the Eagle was designated as San Francisco's first leather-related landmark, as the B.A.R. also reported.

Tenderloin Tessie to offer Christmas dinner

The Tenderloin Tessie nonprofit will offer its annual free Christmas Day dinner Monday, December 25, from 1 to 4 p.m. at First Unitarian Church, 1187 Franklin Street (at Geary Boulevard).

Board President Michael Gagne noted in a news release that people in need can get much more than a meal. There will be free haircuts by LoveCuts, a pop-up barber shop; a free gift bag for attendees; and clothing from Tenderloin Tessie's partner, St. Anthony's.

Vanessa Bousay will provide entertainment.

Volunteer shifts are available on Monday from 9 a.m. to noon; noon to 4 p.m.; and 3 to 6 p.m. People must show proof of COVID vaccination and ID to help out.

Volunteers are also needed the day before, Sunday, December 24, from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Wednesday, December 27, from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Both of these are for truck workers to help load and unload supplies.

To volunteer, call Gagne at (415) 584-3252 (landline, so no texts) or email [email protected]

Queer Cultural Center relaunches development program

The Queer Cultural Center in San Francisco has announced it is relaunching its Creating Queer Communities, a professional development training program for emerging queer and trans artists in the Bay Area.

According to an email announcement, QCC is offering this paid, structural learning and performance opportunity at two levels for the first time. The level one cohort will perform in fall 2024 in a showcase, and the level two group will perform in spring 2025 in events that the cohort members produce.

QCC is now issuing an open call for the level one cohort and accepting applications from emerging queer, trans, Black, Indigenous people of color artists.

Applications are due Sunday, January 7. To learn more and apply, click here.

A separate call in early 2024 will be released for the second level offering for established QTBIPOC artists and artist collectives.

Oakland Pride announces new board members

Following the success of this year's Oakland Pride event, the organization has announced new board leadership for 2024.

George J. Smith III, who works at the Human Services Agency of San Francisco, is the new board president. The former Oakland Pride vice president, he succeeds Michel R. Huff of Huff Legal, who is now president emeritus.

Joanna Castano of Radical Emergence is the secretary, while serving as treasurer is Joe Hawkins, co-founder and chief executive officer of the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center. Board members are Val Klein of IHeart media, John Eric Henry of Pinnacle Drone, and Valentino Carrillo of Que Rico Nightclub.

In an email to supporters, Smith praised the new leadership and vision of the organization.

"First and foremost, I am delighted to announce that Oakland Pride has embarked on a new and invigorating phase with a redefined vision that reflects our commitment to provide an equitable platform, safe spaces and events for the entire Oakland community," Smith wrote. "This vision embodies our unwavering dedication to support Oakland's rich and diverse LGBTQ+ community, support Oakland's BIPOC businesses and nonprofit organizations, establish a Pride for Oakland that is sustainable for years to come that makes a lasting impact in the communities we serve."

As the B.A.R. recently reported, Oakland Pride is having a bar crawl fundraiser Saturday, December 23, starting at 3 p.m. Five LGBTQ bars will be on the tour. The event is for those 21 and older. Tickets are $25 and available here.

BART fares increase Jan. 1

It will cost riders a little more to take BART come January 1. The regional transit agency has announced that fares will increase by 5.5%, raising the average fare by 23 cents to $4.43, according to a news release. A 12-mile trip from downtown Berkeley to Embarcadero in downtown San Francisco, for example, will increase by 25 cents to $4.75, the agency noted. A 45-mile trip from Antioch to Montgomery Street will increase by 40 cents to $8.60.

The fare hike was approved by BART's board of directors during the June 8 budget vote, the agency stated. The board decided to deviate from its policy of approving a fare increase every two years. BART's Inflation-Based Fare Increase program, which has been in place since 2003, would have required an 11% fare hike in 2024. To cushion the economic impact on riders, the board directed staff to instead raise fares by 5.5% in January and again at the same rate in January 2025, the release stated.

BART's trip planner and online fare calculator have already been updated with the new fares, the agency stated. Riders can look up the new fares by selecting a date of January 1.

For more information, go to

The agency also announced that beginning January 1, there will be a deeper discount on fares for qualifying lower-income riders. This Clipper-START means-based fare discount will increase from 20% to 50%, meaning low-income riders will pay half the regular fare. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission pilot program offers discounts for Bay Area residents aged 19-64 earning under 200% of the federal poverty level. Clipper START is accepted by more than 20 regional transit operators in addition to BART, according to the release.

Peralta colleges offer free tuition for spring semester

The Peralta Community College District in the East Bay has announced "Spring is Free in 2024" at all four campuses — Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, and Laney College and Merritt College in Oakland.

A news release stated that California residents who enroll in a minimum of six course credits and who submit a financial aid application (either the federal FAFSA or California Dream Act) will have their tuition and fees waived for the spring 2024 semester.

"We are thrilled to offer this opportunity to California residents who are looking to start or continue their education," stated Jannett N. Jackson, Ph.D., interim chancellor of the college district. "We know that the cost of college can be a barrier for many students, and we hope that this program will make it easier for more people to access the high-quality education that Peralta colleges offer."

Students can apply to one of the colleges as their main campus but enroll in classes at any of the four colleges and not all six credits need to be from the same school. In fact, the release noted, over 40% of students take classes at two or more of the Peralta campuses.

This is now the fourth consecutive semester that the Peralta district has waived fees for students. Previous "Fall is Free" (in 2022 and 2023) and "Spring is Free" (in 2023) campaigns have resulted in more than a 10% increase in student enrollments with strong growth particularly in underserved communities, including Hispanic, African American, Asian, and Arab American students, the release noted.

Funding for the spring is free program comes from the California COVID block grant. The grant is intended to help bring students back to school after the pandemic.

"We are grateful for the support of the state of California for this program," stated Jackson. "This funding will allow us to make a real difference in the lives of our students."

To begin the application and enrollment process, students can visit

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