Letters to the editor

  • Wednesday April 26, 2023
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Letters to the editor

It's APE's way or no way

I agree with the Bay Area Reporter that Another Planet entertainment only has itself to blame ["APE has only itself to blame," Editorial, April 20]. I attempted to have a meaningful conversation with a spin doctor who was promoting the APE Castro takeover at the Fox Theatre's Grace Jones concert last year (another APE venue). I left the encounter feeling it was all smoke and mirrors and spin. Wizard of Oz word smithery. A lot of talking at me — no genuine interest in my questions and concerns.

The Castro is much more than a movie palace — it's an LGBTQ+ epicenter with vital community roots. If APE was genuine about preserving all that's magical about the Castro Theatre, it could have already been walking the talk by hosting regular movie nights and queer-centric events. I believe its decision to keep the theater largely shuttered during this period, as the venue and surrounding area deteriorate further, is a form of stonewalling and intimidation — it's either APE's way or no way.

As a side note, I am troubled by Frameline's decision to endorse APE, given APE's failure to genuinely engage with community stakeholders.

I perceive the issues of multi-use functionality and seating are distractions from what's really at risk — the heart and soul of the Castro. The Castro Theatre has already been a multi-use venue for some time. Personally, I don't want to see the venue become a nightclub that has a dance floor, serves alcohol, and features programming that no longer imbues the queer-essential lifeblood of the community. Moreover, if APE has indeed failed to fulfill renovation commitments to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium that is probably all the data the city needs.

From my vantage, if APE had engaged differently with the community, the issue of renovations would likely already have been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of community stakeholders and APE. Instead, APE has consistently approached community concerns with hubris and disingenuity.

Lisa Cohn

San Francisco

LGBTQ+ youth and tobacco

Here is an update on Matthew S. Bajko's excellent article ["Political Notebook: Gay Vallejo councilman aims to address teen smoking," February 15] profiling gay Vallejo City Councilmember Peter Bregenzer and his efforts to protect LGBTQ+ and other youth from Big Tobacco's manipulative pricing strategies.

On April 11 the Vallejo City Council voted unanimously to receive a 30-minute presentation from our project, LGBTQ Minus Tobacco, and our community partners, Bay Area Community Resources and Vibe Solano. The April 25 presentation addressed, among other things, the high rate of smoking and vaping among local queer teens due to the stress caused by homophobia, transphobia and biphobia.

As we all know, LGBTQ+ youth, and trans youth especially, are facing renewed discriminatory attacks all over the country, and while we don't see these kinds of open political assaults in the Bay Area, there is no doubt that local queer teens know what is happening and are feeling stressed.

As a community we need to fight these attacks on our identities, while also making it harder for stressed youth to turn to highly addictive deadly products like tobacco for relief. The tobacco industry wants just the opposite. Big Tobacco is one of the largest contributors to right-wing politicians and they are only too happy to provide their product, which kills 480,000 people a year in the U.S., to help stressed youth cope.

One of the methods they use to make tobacco more accessible to youth is to artificially decrease the price of their products through billions of dollars of price lowering strategies. Did you know that some tobacco products can be purchased for as little as 99 cents? And yes, teens can get these products at local stores. In 2020, 30% of tobacco stores visited in Vallejo sold to an underage decoy. In 2018, it was even worse — 45.5%!

LGBTQ Minus Tobacco is working to inform community members and leaders in other Bay Area cities as well, doing similar work in Concord as we are in Vallejo, and working for smoke-free bar patios in San Francisco and Oakland to protect bar workers and patrons from secondhand smoke in the safe spaces that are so important to our LGBTQ+ communities. To find out more, visit our website at www.lgbtqminustobacco.org.

Brian Davis, Project Director

LGBTQ Minus Tobacco

San Francisco

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