Letters to the Editor

  • Tuesday June 13, 2006
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Prefers gay celeb marshal

As much as I like Jennifer Beals, why is it that in the gayest city in the world, we couldn't find a celebrity grand marshal that was actually gay instead of a straight person that plays one on TV? If it's because all the gay ones that were asked declined, then shame on them. Just wondering. Happy gay Pride everyone!

Joe Mac

San Francisco

Patio owner responds

I'd like to respond to erroneous statements made about the Patio Cafe in a letter published in the Bay Area Reporter on June 8. The Patio Cafe permits did not expire and the Patio Cafe has not been in an abandoned state.

There has been continuous remodeling work on the property under valid building permits. The Patio Cafe closed in 2001 to make extensive renovations, which became necessary to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and to correct many code violations. During the course of construction other major unforeseen work became necessary including a structural upgrade of the building.

Work was stopped when the Department of Building Inspection required revised comprehensive architectural and structural plans to incorporate newly discovered code work. After a one-year review by the DBI and all city departments, the final required comprehensive plans were approved and a permit was issued on April 10, 2006. A prominent building contractor was retained and construction was scheduled to be completed by December 2006. However, the permit was suspended on April 19, 2006, because of a complaint by a citizen.

On Wednesday, June 21, 2006, the Board of Appeals will decide whether to reinstate the permit and allow the Patio Cafe to reopen as a full-service restaurant.

The Patio Cafe has been a Castro landmark for more than 25 years. A bustling, renovated Patio Cafe is clearly in the best interest of the Castro neighborhood, its residents, visitors, and merchants. I urge interested persons to attend the June 21 hearing or write the members of the Board of Appeals and Supervisor Bevan Dufty to let them know that it is in the best interest of the Castro to reopen the Patio Cafe without further delay.

Les Natali

San Francisco

Request for vigil organizers

I'm asking the individuals that did the actual planning of the AIDS Candlelight Vigil that next year instead of walking one block we walk what I remember walking last year or the year before and that is, Market Street down to Civic Center, just like the way they used to back in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.

It's cold, windy, and candles blow out on Market Street but you know what – really that is nothing compared to what people who have been lost to HIV/AIDS have been through. Solution: bring a torch and wear a hat and scarf.

If we walk one block in our comfort zone, the only people who will know that it happened will be people who catch a blip about it on the 10 or 11 o'clock news that night. If we travel down Market Street, a lot of people in cars, in restaurants and bars with windows, and on the street will see us and really, isn't that one of the things we want from the vigil? Evoking some kind of acknowledgment from people we pass?

I'm respectfully asking that, pardon the pun, but next year we go all the way.

Ryan Meek

San Francisco

Appreciates courtesy

On Saturday, June 10 my faith in the younger set of the lesbian community was reinvigorated. My girlfriend and I attended the Queer Women of Color Film Night at the LGBT Community Center. The line was long but organizer Madeline Lim was resolved to seat as many people as possible for the 7 p.m. showing. It was a standing room only crowd and being at the end of the line meant a place against the back wall.

Determined to see the films but dealing with an aging body that creaks and a bad back I fidgeted from floor sitting to wall leaning. A woman of my vintage standing in front of me looked as miserable as I did,so I offered her a place on my wall. Moving to the side of the room I stood, without a wall, for five seconds and was told by a brash younger dyke I could not stand there. In quite a bit of pain I said to myself, "I'm outta here." Leaving the crowded room, Madeline approached and asked if I would be returning, as if not she would let one other waiting woman in. I really didn't know as I needed to go outside to "chill out." Telling her I didn't mean to be a pain in the ass but � I proceeded to comment the room was too small and where was the handicapped seating for the old dykes? She said there were seats up front but perhaps not enough. I wandered outside to calm myself when Madeline appeared. She told me two people up front had left their seats and asked if I would like to return. I can't tell you how great it was to be heard – by the organizer herself. I couldn't believe she left her post to accommodate a crotchety old dyke. But she did. Returning to a seat in the front I was able to enjoy all the films and was painless to boot. Thank you, Madeline, and thanks for your caring and of course, your wonderful compassionate commitment to the films of women of color.

Also, this letter comes by way of saying let's all get on board to support this great group of women as it could mean next year a larger, more suitable appointed venue for us aging boomers who need to sit down but not be shut out of the cultural life of this beautiful city.

Louise Minnick

San Francisco

Remembering the epidemic

As we all commemorate the 25th "anniversary" of the AIDS epidemic, I pause to remember the early years of that horrible time in San Francisco. I worked for five years on the AIDS Ward at San Francisco General Hospital starting in 1982. As a new nurse, I was excited, scared, and challenged on many levels. We had no treatments back then, and our predominantly young and gay male patients died difficult and painful deaths. It felt like war, and it felt like we were losing.

In the 1980s many in our community worked a day job and at night we cared for sick and dying friends at home. Funerals came often, and whole worlds of friends disappeared from our lives. I recall when the health department announced the 10,000th death from AIDS. The city seemed empty, depressed, and hope was scarce.

In the 1990s I served on the Ryan White CARE Council – the city was flush with new money and we were building a response to a changing epidemic. We had people to care for and politics to respond to. We had more to learn than we could have imagined.

It has been difficult to talk about it, to remember it, yet for my generation of LGBT people it was an experience that changed us forever. I developed a deep bond with the people I worked with in those days. It is unique in my relationships and it is precious to me. I look at photographs of dead friends and they look like children to me now. We wondered how we would survive such losses, but there was work for us to do.

Finally, your front page article failed to mention or to interview even one woman ["25 years into AIDS epidemic, SF examines its system of care," June 1]. A legion of women nurses, doctors, social workers, and volunteers served in agencies, clinics hospitals and on boards and they are a part of the history of the epidemic. Their contributions must be included. Therefore, I list some names here of women who were and are leaders, caregivers, and mentors: Pat Christen, Alison Moed, Connie Wofsy, Val Robb, Diane Jones, Roma Guy, Alison LaVoy, Ruth Brinker, Sandra Hernandez, Jeannee Parker Martin, Anne Hughes, Catherine Lyons, and many more.

Marcy Fraser, RN, MBA

San Francisco

Disagrees with critic

Everybody knows that theater critics are obligated to parade whatever savvy they think they have and to be hard on the productions they are paid to review. Still, one does have to wonder what kind of sour and curmudgeonly mood Richard Dodds must have been in – to take in a fabulous Varla Jean Merman show, replete with the fabulous and versatile Matthew Martin, and not get swept up by the pure tongue-in-cheek silliness of it – even as he admits, the audience "cheered throughout the 70-minute show" ["Sideshow for a circus freak," June 8]. In other words, the audience apparently got it. To demand logic and strict one-note adherence to theme isn't getting it when it comes to artist Jeffrey Roberson, a.k.a. Varla, who creates and arranges all of his own wickedly clever material and who clearly has a strong rapport with his audiences. It must be frustrating to miss a boat that everybody else has sailed on, but sadly, the diverse elements of Under a Big Top (and all of Varla's productions), so rich with musical genres and cultural allusions, obviously took a back seat to Richard Dodds's unimaginative and inflexible expectations that night. Richard, next time, have a snack and a cocktail first and try to have more fun.

Jim Logan

San Francisco