Unanswered questions from SFAF

  • Wednesday August 2, 2017
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The San Francisco AIDS Foundation recently canceled a Black Love program at Strut, its men's health center in the Castro, in response to an "odd" email the agency received. Officials were concerned about the safety of artists who were scheduled to perform, and said the message made them "uncomfortable." Unfortunately, SFAF has declined to share the email with us, so no one, except those who have read it, are able to determine whether this was an overreaction or legitimate concern that could have ramifications for the neighborhood and community. It's probably both.

Since the 9/11 terror attacks, citizens have been advised, "If you see something, say something;" and many do report suspicious activities to law enforcement. Since the election of Donald Trump, we have seen an increase in hate speech, threats against Jewish organizations, Muslims, and a spike in harassment against LGBTQ people. This new climate is all the more reason for SFAF officials to proceed cautiously. But the weird email apparently didn't contain a threat, so the foundation didn't report it to police. That was a mistake. Law enforcement should have been alerted, on the off chance the sentiments expressed in the email materialized into something more serious.

SFAF's response also continued to stoke concerns that there was a racial motivation behind its decision to postpone the Black Love event. Lara Brooks, the foundation's vice president of programs, told us that no slight toward the black queer community was intended, but its announcement about the postponement was flippant �" "Black Love has been canceled, just for tonight though," a post on Strut's Facebook page read in part. Bridgemen, the foundation's social group for gay, bi, and trans men, did reference "odd emails," but didn't offer additional information.

As we've experienced before when dealing with SFAF, many times its first instinct is secrecy. We could not see the email in question, we were told, because the foundation needed to "treat the communication as confidential, given the nature of our work." It seems to us that if the email so bothered officials, the community should be made aware of its contents. It also came from "an unknown contact," Brooks said. That should negate any concern for confidentiality.

SFAF should have been more transparent, with us and with the community. And if the email was so jarring as to force the cancelation of an event, the police should have been notified.


Quit falling for Ivanka's gay support

Ivanka Trump and her husband, presidential adviser Jared Kushner, are unable to influence President Donald Trump on LGBTQ issues.

Back when Trump was assembling his White House team, reporters gushed that Ivanka, in particular, would be a "moderating" force on the mercurial president. Gays, we were told, don't need to worry with Ivanka and Jared in the White House.

What a load of crap that was. They are walking conflicts of interest who put their own self-preservation above all else.

We have seen no evidence that Ivanka or Jared have the LGBTQ community's back. Earlier this year, when Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rescinded Obama-era protections for trans students, Ivanka was silent. In June, when the president did not issue a proclamation recognizing LGBT Pride Month, Ivanka issued a tweet: "I am proud to support my LGBTQ friends and the LGBTQ Americans who have made immense contributions to our society and economy." But it was clear that if she did say something to her father, he rejected her advice.

Last week, when the president announced, via Twitter, his ban on transgender people serving in the military, Ivanka was silent.

It's not just LGBTQ issues either. Ivanka and Jared were supposed to prevent Trump, the mainstream media said, from withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement �" didn't happen.

In short, on all sorts of issues, the president's daughter and son-in-law are often unable to curtail Trump's most dangerous instincts. Ivanka, like her father, is also a hypocrite. The overseas factories that churn out her branded products do so in countries with questionable labor practices. There is no "made in America" tags on those items, just like all of her father's merchandise.

So let's call the administration what it is: deceitful and dishonest. And the next time there's an anti-LGBTQ issue on the front burner, like if Trump decides to reverse something that Obama did, don't bother to ask Ivanka for her support. Clearly, she's missing in action.