News Briefs: Groups to detail fight to save Castro Theatre

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Wednesday January 3, 2024
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Preservationists and others will hold a panel discussion about lessons learned from the fight to save the Castro Theatre. Photo: Scott Wazlowski
Preservationists and others will hold a panel discussion about lessons learned from the fight to save the Castro Theatre. Photo: Scott Wazlowski

Historians, preservationists, and community organizers will hold a public panel discussion on the fight to save the Castro Theatre Thursday, January 11, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Roxie Theater, 3117 16th Street in the Mission district.

As the Bay Area Reporter has previously reported, Another Planet Entertainment took over management of the historic movie palace in January 2022. Over the ensuing months, stretching into 2023, groups formed to save the fixed orchestra seating after APE's plans revealed the concert promoter wanted to replace them with seats that could be moved for live music and other non-film events.

During numerous hearings last spring, summer, and fall, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved the prerequisite ordinances allowing APE's vision to move forward. The most recent — allowing second-floor alcohol sales throughout the Castro Street Neighborhood Commercial District — was approved October 24, as the B.A.R. reported.

The upcoming panel discussion, "The Fight for the Castro Theatre: Lessons for Queer Preservation," is billed as "an inside report on the campaign to save a historic LGBTQ cultural site," a news release stated. The panel will put a spotlight on the city's refusal to save a San Francisco landmark, and will open a discussion of how the LGBTQ community can better protect queer historic sites and cultural heritage in the future, according to the release. (The Castro Theatre's exterior is a city landmark; the Board of Supervisors approved the interior landmarking ordinance last year but the orchestra seats were not deemed historic so they were not part of what needs to be preserved.)

Preservation organizers did persuade the city to impose a number of conditions on APE, the release noted. These include offering movie screenings at least 75 days per year, seeking ongoing guidance from San Francisco-based LGBTQIA+ nonprofits to ensure ongoing queer programming and culturally appropriate LGBTQ events at the theater; and providing annual compliance reports to the city.

Scheduled speakers at the forum are Christine Madrid French, a historian and architectural advocate; Gerard Koskovich, a queer public historian and adviser on the Castro Theatre landmark amendment; Peter Pastreich, executive director of the Castro Theatre Conservancy; Jen Reck, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology at San Francisco State University and executive co-chair of the Castro LGBTQ Cultural District; Stephen Torres, former executive co-chair of the Castro LGBTQ Cultural District and a candidate for District 9 supervisor; and Shayne Watson, an LGBTQ historian and member of Friends of the Castro Theatre Coalition and San Franciscans to Save the Castro Theatre.

The host is M Rocket of the Castro LGBTQ Cultural District, Friends of the Castro Theatre Coalition, and San Franciscans to Save the Castro Theatre.

Event sponsors are the Castro LGBTQ Cultural District, the Roxie Theater, the Castro Theatre Conservancy, and San Franciscans to Save the Castro Theatre.

A $10 donation is suggested, though no one will be turned away for lack of funds. All profits benefit the Roxie Theater.

To register, click here.

To submit questions for the panelists in advance, send an email to [email protected]

SF police watchdog agency to hold outreach event

The San Francisco Department of Police Accountability, which investigates complaints about police officers and recommends policy changes, will hold an outreach event Thursday, January 11, at 6 p.m. at Manny's the cafe and event space at 3092 16th Street in the Mission district.

The forum will discuss the role DPA plays in the city, how its work impacts public safety, civilian oversight, and the work of the San Francisco Police Department.

Scheduled speakers will be agency personnel Tinetta Thompson, an attorney, and Janelle Gaywood, a policy director.

Tickets are $15-$30. To register, click here.

Recology recycling Christmas trees

A San Francisco tradition returns this week with a Christmas tree recycling program that turns the holiday pines, spruces, and firs into environmentally-friendly mulch and keeps them out of the landfill.

San Francisco Public Works noted in its newsletter that recycling Christmas trees is easy. Simply place the unadorned tree curbside, next to the blue recycling bin, the night before the regular collection day between now and January 12. Recology will take it away.

Before putting the tree out for pickup, please remember to remove all tinsel, decorations, nails, plastic bags, stands and lights — anything that was added to the natural tree. If the tree measures more than six feet tall, please cut it in half. Trees should not be put into a plastic bag.

"We never want to see old Christmas trees left out on the sidewalk willy-nilly for extended periods of time where they can become hazards," said San Francisco Public Works Director Carla Short. "San Francisco's tree-cycling initiative helps keep our neighborhoods clean and safe by allowing residents to dispose of their old trees properly and put them to good use as mulch that can be used for gardens and farms." 

Additional information is available online at Residents and businesses can contact Recology at [email protected] or call (415) 330-1300.

The Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray, left, graces a U.S. quarter. Photos: Courtesy Schlesinger Library, Harvard Radcliffe Institute; U.S. Mint  

US Mint begins shipping Murray quarters
The United States Mint this week began shipping the first coin in the 2024 American Women Quarters program for the Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray, a queer female icon.

Murray, as the B.A.R. noted in a 2021 LGBTQ History Month story, defied gender norms and variously identified as a woman, a man, and as neither. She was a Black civil rights activist, attorney, and much-published poet and essayist. Murray had created new feminist theory and lived a lesbian life for decades. Murray's was a life of firsts: first Black woman law school graduate at Howard University, first Black person to earn a JSD (doctor of the science of law) degree from Yale Law School, and first Black woman ordained as an Episcopal priest.

"The first coin of the 2024 American Women Quarters program honors the life and legacy of Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray," stated Mint director Ventris C. Gibson. "Reverend Dr. Murray was keenly aware of the oppression that she faced as a Black woman. She lived her life and fought tirelessly as a steadfast advocate for civil rights and gender equality."

As the B.A.R. previously reported, U.S. Mint artistic infusion program artist Emily Damstra designed the image, and United States Mint Chief Engraver Joseph Menna sculpted the image. It depicts Murray's eyeglass-framed face within the shape of the word "Hope," which is symbolic of Murray's belief that significant societal reforms were possible when rooted in hope, the release noted. A line from her poem "Dark Testament" that characterizes hope as "a song in a weary throat" is featured as an additional inscription in the design.

The other quarters in the 2024 series will honor Patsy Takemoto Mink, the first woman of color to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and the first woman from Hawaii to be elected to Congress; Cuban singer Celia Cruz, who eventually came to the U.S.; Zitkala-Sa, a Yankton Dakota writer, editor, translator, musician, educator, and political activist; and Civil War era surgeon Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, a women's rights advocate and abolitionist with an LGBTQ-focused health clinic in Washington, D.C. partly named after her.

People can check with their banks in late January or early February about the availability of the Murray quarter. Interested people can also visit the U.S. Mint's website about commemorative coins at

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