|Men and women standing together at a late 80’s protest. PHOTO BY JANE PHILOMEN CLELAND
By Betty L. Sullivan and Jennifer L. Viegas
Even as the Bay Times pauses to acknowledge today’s annual International Women’s Day and concurrent observances of Women’s History Month throughout March, we must consider the perennial questions around unity and separation among men and women in our
“We’re all in this together,” said longtime Castro resident Pam Davis. “Friends ask me why I choose to live in this neighborhood where they think men rule, and I just say that I’m here because I needed my gay men friends. We love, support and enjoy each other.”
The idea of working together and seeking unity while supporting one and all harkens back to the early days of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.
“We were in there struggling with the guys,” said Leslie Ewing, Pacific Center Executive Director, who was among the first who volunteered for years at the original home of the Names Project, and served as a key leader of the AIDS Emergency Fund.
“The tradition of women and men working together is certainly not new, and I believe the longstanding desire among men to give back in support of their lesbian friends continues,” Ewing said.
Below are just a few of the Bay Area’s many organizations that, with compassion, help to forge such togetherness in our community:
Brothers for Sisters –An often cited example of men supporting women in the local LGBT community is the Brothers for Sisters initiative begun in the mid-1990s by men like Steven Sams, Hon. Mark Leno, Frank Woo, Jeffery Sterman and others. Receptions and other fundraising events have been held from time to time to garner funds for women’s health services provided by the legendary Lyon-Marin Clinic. (lyon-martin.org)
Breast Cancer Emergency Fund To honor the strong commitment of caregivers in the women’s community who came to the aid of gay men in the early years of the AIDS pandemic, leaders of the AIDS Emergency Fund in April of 2001 launched a new initiative: The Breast Cancer Emergency Fund (BCEF). AEF executive director Mike Smith advises that BCEF established its own non-profit tax status, but the two agencies continue to share operations and staff. (bcef-sf.org)
Academy of Friends -Since the early 1980s, Academy of Friends has raised more than $8.5 million in support of organizations serving men, women and children affected by HIV/AIDS. Beneficiaries for 2012 including groups providing services to those in need regardless of gender, and also the Women’s HIV Program at UCSF in particular. (academyoffriends.org)
The Shanti Project-Shanti is well known for its HIV/AIDS services, but since 2001, this organization has provided both practical assistance and emotional support to underserved San Franciscans with breast cancer. Shanti has long held that its members and volunteers “believe no one should have to face a life-threatening illness alone.” Shanti’s services for women include providing help going to medical appointments, financial assistance, delivered meals, in-home peer support and more. (shanti.org)
The list goes on and on. Bay Times wishes to continue to acknowledge the ways that men and women together enjoy and serve our entire Bay Area’s LGBTQ community. Please send your comments to: email@example.com.