Letters to the Editor

  • Wednesday August 30, 2006
Share this Post:

Needed: Black mental health workers

Thank you, Bartholomew T. Casimir. You have illuminated a topic that rarely gets addressed in our community ["Grief and depression," Guest Opinion, August 17]. I also knew Ricky Williams. He was a wonderful human being and spirit, and I feel that you have brought meaning out of his death, when so many felt there was none.

I believe you were right on in your assessment of the maladies that beset our community and the lack of black mental health professionals as well as paraprofessionals that could help address and heal the many deep psychic wounds that so many of us in the African American community experience on an ongoing basis.

I once had counseling from a well-meaning white gay therapist, but he was clueless as to the real deep issues that I was dealing with at the time.

Over the years (I am 61 now), I did find two black therapists who where straight, but had open hearts and were gay friendly. One of them helped save my life, for he knew well of the deep wounds that I spoke of as a black man and could relate; that in itself was very healing for me.

In late 1997, I meet a psychologist, Dr. Fred Vanhoose, who at the time was working with the San Francisco AIDS Foundation's Black Brothers Esteem program. With the help of Dr. Vanhoose we formed a group for same-gender loving black men over 40 and later added a cross-generation component and that's when I meet Ricky Williams, who became a co-facilitator of the group.

So again, I say thank you for bringing to light a deficit that needs to be addressed in the black SGL community and the larger gay community – a need for wholeness and well being.

Robert K. Hill

San Francisco

Praise for the Sisters

I am overjoyed that the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence went to confront the picketers that have been camping out at the corner of Castro and 18th, and make stand for LGBT people everywhere ["Sisters meet fundies in the Castro," August 24]. After witnessing firsthand the unrest that happened in the Castro over Pride weekend, I seriously wondered if the Castro was a safe place anymore. But now I know better. And I'll be there for the next "Joy Procession." In fact, I can't wait!

Eric Crow

San Francisco

Don't forget tenant activists

Your story on Zephyr Realty's decision not to represent landlords who use the Ellis Act to evict protected (disabled, senior and/or terminally ill) tenants missed one crucial point ["Real estate firm alters policy," August 24]. It was almost 10 years of tenant activism that brought about that decision. A lot of individuals and organizations worked hard to bring public attention to the fact that seniors and disabled folks (including those with AIDS) were being disproportionately targeted for eviction by the Ellis Act, especially in the Castro.

Many queers worked on raising that awareness, including folks in the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, the AIDS Housing Alliance, and the now-defunct Castro Tenants Union. Many of us marched outside buildings where tenants were being evicted and lobbied members of the Board of Supervisors for help. Under recently passed legislation authored by Supervisor Aaron Peskin, if the Ellis Act is used to evict tenants, a building either must wait 10 years or can never condo-convert, depending on whether protected tenants are displaced. Hopefully, that will slow the use of the Ellis Act here in San Francisco.

Sadly, it took this long for effective legislation to happen and for at least one real estate company to admit that using the Ellis Act to evict protected tenants is not good for our city.

Tommi Avicolli Mecca

San Francisco

Memo to Mark Leno: Snap out of it!

While the recent behavior of certain Assembly members illustrated once again why Republican and repugnant seem so interchangeable, your failure to make certain that all of the LGBTs honored before the Assembly were not just "high-profile" but high-achieving only added credibility to their objection ["Assembly caucus honors gays," August 17]. I address you alone among the LGBT Legislative Caucus because I can't imagine any other member nominating Reichen Lehmkuhl, and the image of you escorting the pretty boy onto the Assembly floor seems to confirm my allegation.

To mention Lehmkuhl's name in the same breath (let alone include him for any such recognition) as the true role models present, especially Jim Hormel – co-founder of the Human Rights Campaign, America's first out gay ambassador, underwriter of the unique LGBT center at San Francisco's main library, and countless other projects to which he has quietly donated his money, brains, and passion – is obscene. Once upon a time, Lehmkuhl did achieve something positive along with former partner Chip Arndt in winning The Amazing Race as an out couple. But while Arndt has continued to use that exposure to contribute to the community in numerous ways, from leading AIDS rides to leading the Miami-Dade Democratic Lesbian & Gay Caucus, Lehmkuhl has made exposure itself his raison d'etre, peddling sexy calendars, posters, and a shower scene in a trailer trash made-for-cable movie. Who knew we were so in need of more of the same?

It's hardly that California has such a shortage of outstanding out LGBTs that the caucus need reach desperately for the likes of Lehmkuhl and the even more ludicrous Honey Labrador ("television personality"). Where were Del and Phyllis, NCLR director Kate Kendell, Price Club co-founder/Point Foundation founder Bruce Lindstrom, Point's incoming director Jorge Valencia, or Hormel's partner Tim Wu, to name but the proverbial few? Among "celebrities," Chad Allen and Robert Gant have contributed far more than the two celebrities paraded before the state legislature and media.

Mr. Leno, give whatever you'd like to Lehmkuhl at the next Bad Boys pool party, but please save the caucus' crown for others who are truly deserving.

Tad Dunlap

Las Vegas, Nevada

Dufty's work with youth

The recent B.A.R. article only highlighted a few of the things Supervisor Bevan Dufty has accomplished in office, particularly when it comes to LGBT youth ["The race is on in District 8," August 17].

When the youth homeless shelter closed in the Castro, Bevan worked tirelessly to find transitional housing for youth that needed it the most.

The supervisor also worked with youth activists in the Castro to support a queer teen program at the Eureka Valley Recreation Center and support the building of a brand new 1,000 square foot "teen building" and new queer youth clubhouse. He has also supported and helped to find funding to expand queer youth programming, a collaboration between EVRC and LYRIC.

In addition, Bevan is always present and willing to talk to me and others about any of the struggles we have, whether it's helping youth find more affordable housing, supporting health care for youth and others who are uninsured, helping youth find employment so that we can continue to live in San Francisco, or working to decrease drug use among young adults.

I am proud to support Supervisor Bevan Dufty, because he supports me and the issues that I care deeply about.

Owen Stephens

San Francisco

SF DP registry open to all

The Bay Area Reporter writes, "Rosenthal refers to Jones as her domestic partner, even though the couple does not meet the legal requirements to register as such with the state..." ["Rosenthal is one 'freak' of a candidate," August 24]. Like, Alix Rosenthal is female, Steven Jones is male, and neither partner is a senior? We San Franciscans still have our own municipal registry for domestic partners, created in the 1970s. Unlike the gender-segregated and age-segregated state registry, our SF registry would happily register Rosenthal and Jones as domestic partners.

Our municipal registry has NO requirements concerning sex or gender. These days, local clerks may suggest that same-sex or senior couples consider using the state registry instead; but our local registry remains open to them, and to all.

A year or two ago, my friends Stephanie and Keith, a mixed couple (M/F), became registered domestic partners at our municipal registry. Thus they gained a few local rights, like being seen as spouses when dealing with SF landlords, hospitals, agencies, etc. At that time, municipal partnership served their needs better than full marriage would have.

Since partnership has (oddly) become a campaign issue, I would urge Alix and Steven to consider using our municipal registry.

In general, I'm appalled that Supervisor Dufty and candidate Rosenthal have each been hassled about their unorthodox families. Why should Dufty be expected to behave just like the majority of gay men, and be called "assimiliationist" for doing otherwise? Why would anyone question Rosenthal calling her man a "domestic partner"?

Having rebelled against the heterosexist Victorian orthodoxy, shall we queers now invent a new system of stifling conformity? What would Harvey do?

As a "freak," I empathize with Alix the Burner. But as a queer City-zen, I hope the Castro will re-elect Dufty.

Tortuga Bi Liberty

San Francisco

Send letters to the Bay Area Reporter, 395 Ninth Street, San Francisco, CA 94103. Letters must be signed, and include an address and daytime phone number for verification purposes only. Unsigned or anonymous letters will not be published. E-mail letters are accepted at