Letters to the Editor

  • Wednesday January 18, 2012
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Gay seniors and bathhouses

As a gay male septuagenarian and "second generation" San Francisco queer (i.e., one who became active in the community in the 1960s and 1970s as opposed to those who settled here in the 1940s and 1950s as a consequence of World War II, the "first generation"), I welcome the hearings that Supervisors David Campos, Scott Wiener, and Christina Olague anticipate with respect to the circumstances of aging LGBTs ["It's about time (to focus on LGBT seniors)," Guest Opinion, January 12].

Such hearings might also serve to inform the newer leadership of how rich gay life �" if not LBT as well �" was prior to the HIV/AIDS pandemic that brought on our now more conservative and assimilationist politics.

One thing this supervisorial threesome could do for aging gay and bisexual men right now �" and without further hearings �" is to make clear the right of gay bathhouses to operate again in San Francisco. Although over a decade ago the efforts of Community for Sexual Privacy were largely successful in obtaining endorsement for ending the ban on privacy in sex clubs �" the ban that keeps traditional gay bathhouses closed �" then-Health Director Dr. Mitch Katz quashed any reopening by rejecting the vote of the HIV Prevention Planning Council to end the privacy ban. However, since Katz's departure to Los Angeles last year has made him history, it might be possible to make his own history of having perpetuated the scapegoating of bathhouses history, too.

It is absurd that 21 years after the court order that banned privacy in gay bathhouses has expired, aging gay men, or any of San Francisco's gay or bisexual men for that matter, should have to travel to Berkeley or San Jose to visit a bathhouse. In the absence of any initiative to end the ban, I hope a fourth generation of gay and bisexual gay men make bathhouse reopening a priority. Why not start with these hearings?

Reid Condit

San Francisco

Three issues confront LGBT seniors

Kudos to Supervisors David Campos, Scott Wiener and Christina Olague for co-sponsoring a hearing about the issues affecting LGBT seniors. Openhouse has been raising and addressing these issues since its founding in 1998. We have made great progress but much more needs to be done.

At least three major issues confront us. First, it is critical that we organize our community to be far better represented in the lotteries and wait lists that determine who will gain access to incredibly scarce affordable senior housing in San Francisco. With the elimination of redevelopment agencies and deep cuts in affordable housing at the federal level, Openhouse's development of our affordable senior housing community at 55 Laguna Street must be prioritized for city funding in this and future budget years. The construction of 110 units of affordable housing, welcoming to LGBT seniors, hangs in the balance.

Second, we must ensure that LGBT seniors have access to community-based services that support health, independence, civic engagement and quality of life. The Openhouse LGBT Community Services program has provided this kind of support to over 500 LGBT seniors in the last year. But our city contract to deliver these services covers only half the cost and is subject to yearly cuts as the city struggles with ever diminishing resourses.

Finally, we must work with our allied leaders and organizations across the continuum of care to ensure access for LGBT seniors who remain fearful of discrimination, misunderstanding, and compromised care. The Openhouse cultural competency training program �" a product of years of collaborative work with LGBT aging organizations in the Bay Area �" has made a significant impact over the years but the need far outstrips our capacity to deliver this critical training.

In these very challenging economic times, it is timely and appropriate to focus on the needs of this particularly vulnerable population and how we can work together to reduce isolation and continue to empower LGBT seniors to improve their overall health, well being, and economic security.

Seth Kilbourn, Executive Director


San Francisco

More of the same

All I can say about Matthew Bajko's article concerning Mayor Ed Lee ["Lee readies for full term," January 5] is, who cares? Lee is in the pockets of the 1 percent of San Francisco, and don't forget who they are: Dianne Feinstein, Richard Blum, Willie Brown, Gavin Newsom, and all the rest of the powerful Democratic machine. No progressives in this bunch. Just four more years of the same.

Daishin Sunseri

San Francisco

EQCA awards gala

I was completely stunned by the article about the budget for Equality California's awards ceremony being $119,000 ["EQCA to discuss plans at Jan. event," January 5]. Does that seem excessive? I'd have to say someone is a little overboard. It must be really something for that much money.

I supported the group and gave money but I will not give anymore. No wonder our fundraisers for our rights group are going down the drain.

Larry E. Fisher

San Francisco

Clarifying remarks

I am writing to clarify my remarks to reporter Matthew Bajko, who misinterpreted my remarks at the swearing-in ceremony of District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague ["City gains first bi supervisor," Political Notebook, January 12]. I am not disparaging Bajko's fine reporting, and it is easy to understand that he got the tone wrong given the political climate in San Francisco and given that it was a hurried conversation at a crowded event.

Christina is my friend of 15 years, and our friendship is not just a "political" friendship. It is based in common cause and a genuine affection for her. I believe that another reporter got a more accurate picture of my perspective when she wrote that I was thrilled by the choice by Mayor Ed Lee, and I am "ditching" my plans to run for District 5 supervisor unless Invasion of the Body Snatchers happens, and my old friend Christina becomes someone she is not.

My reference to the fact that life is long was meant to suggest that one never knows what will happen in politics and I am not ruling out someday running for supervisor.

My most sincere congratulations to District 5 Supervisor Olague.

Gabriel Haaland

San Francisco

About that porn review

I was just about to dismiss John F. Karr's review of Incubus as just another of his "wish I was making the porn rather than reviewing it" diatribes and file it away with his other forgettable columns, but then he started getting facts wrong ["Horny devils," Karrnal Knowledge, January 12]. It's also clear that he was predisposed to dislike the movie based solely on its, admittedly unfortunate, cover art.

In my opinion, worth about as much as Karr's, Incubus is one of the most beautifully shot, expertly edited porn films to come from Titan in a long time, perhaps since as long ago as Gorge (which I just went back and checked: three videographers, two editors. So, I guess that puts the lie to Karr's supposition about consistency). Karr's comparison of Incubus to the lamentable LA Zombie is superficial at best. He'd do better to watch a few Lady Gaga videos, and then write a dissertation.

And then there are the factual errors. Spencer Reed does not appear in the film after the first scene with Francois Sagat and Shay Michaels. The person on the "closed circuit monitor" is Sagat. Also, Karr points out that the horned Sagat from the cover does not appear in the film. But he does, at the end, just after the Hunter Marx character is killed. I can only assume that Karr was reaching for his cum towel at that moment and missed it.

That Karr felt it necessary to write "Huh?" twice in the course of his review only reveals two things: a) He obviously just wasn't paying much attention, and b) he needs a thesaurus. He also keeps referring to the movie's press notes, which leads me to believe he did more reading than watching.

If Karr would rather his porn to be simply two-three guys in a room, for no particular reason except to have sex, then I humbly point him to Titan's own Rough series. Or if he feels like slumming, in quality of production and models, there's always Treasure Island.

Dave Yando

Alameda, California