| Author and gay historian Allan Berube, 61, died Tuesday. Chuck Morrow, 66, who reigned in San Francisco as the vivacious Empress Char died in November at his home in Hawaii.
As Advocate.com reported, Allan Berube died of complications from stomach ulcers. Berube had been the recipient of a grant from the MacArthur Foundation and was author of the award winning book, Coming Out Under Fire. In 1978, he was a founder of the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay History Project. Berube was one of the first to chronicle the history of the then-emerging gay liberation movement. His slide shows provided a true and fascinating look at gay men and lesbians, their history and their lifestyle.
With the publishing of his book, Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War II, in 1990, Berube became the go-to source for reliable history of a movement. The book received the Lambda Literary Award, was later adapted into a documentary by Arthur Dong, for which he won the Peabody Award.
With the election of Harvey Milk in 1978, Berubeâ€™s research and presentations gave fresh insight to the lives of gay men and lesbians. Before that time, little was publicly known and was generally described in negative terms.
Allan Berubeâ€™s writings and presentations debunked old stereotypes and, for many, became the source for information, dignity and self-respect.
On Jan.29, also in 1978, Charles â€śChuckâ€ť Morrow, one of San Franciscoâ€™s most vivacious and sparkling personalities became Empress Char, Absolute Empress XIII of San Francisco. With Bob Ross, the late publisher of the Bay Area Reporter who was Emperor of San Francisco, and newly elected openly gay supervisor, Harvey Milk, they presided over a period of time unlike anything seen before or since.
The Imperial Court system had its roots with Jose Sarria, a gay nightclub performer, known as the Widow Norton to gold rush icon Emperor Joshua Norton. This court system which continues in San Francisco is now replicated in cities around the world. These elected Empresses and Emperors, whose titles included, A.N., (after Norton) became the foundation of San Franciscoâ€™s gay community.
Empress Charâ€™s reign as leader of San Franciscoâ€™s Imperial Court system was thrill packed from the first moment. At the installation, Hello Dolly star Carol Channing was to crown the newly elected Empress. Charâ€™s predecessor had different ideas. In reportedly what was something akin to a free for all, the reigning empress, Jane Doe, sent the crown sailing across the room. How that crown bounced off walls, out of shocked drag queens hands and finally landing twisted metal wreckage have been the source of stories for years. For most, Carol Channingâ€™s ultimate role has never been fully explained.
Empress Char, was a hair stylist in downtown San Francisco. With Emperor Bob Ross, they used their status as community leaders to fight the Briggs Initiative. A statewide initiative authored by State Senator John Briggs, it would have prohibited gay men and lesbians from teaching in schools. The measure, many believed would pass, was ultimately defeated. Throughout 1978, Char and Ross raised literally tens of thousands of dollars to fight the initiative. Together, Ross and Char became a team possibly best described as the shock and awe of their day.
Empress Char would later buy the Kokpit, a gay bar at Turk and Leavenworth and was elected President of the San Francisco Tavern Guild. Chuck Morrow, like few others, understood the dynamics of this unique family of San Francisco Empresses and Emperors. He understood when to promote frivolity and was equally as clear when facing many serious community issues.
1978, the year Empress Char would reign, ended with the assassination of Harvey Milk.
Two and a half years following the reign of Empress Char, the Centers for Disease Control, on June 5, 1981, reported the first five cases of AIDS.
For San Franciscoâ€™s community of lesbians, gay men, bisexual and transsexual people life is better and would not be the same without the presence and contributions of Chuck Morrow and Allan Berube. Both brought stability, helped lay the foundation for a community and were the real deal, the authentic personification of pride, dignity and respect.
When historians look for pioneers and pillars of the gay community they will find two giants, Charles Morrow and Allan Berube.
Obamaâ€™s star seems to be rising in Iowa. This is because people are finding out more about him. Hillaryâ€™s support is ebbing. This is because people are finding out more about her.
Goldwater Girl for Prez?
Hillary calls herself a â€śnewâ€ť Democrat. Maybe she means, as a former Republican, that sheâ€™s a NEWcomer to the progressive movement.
As a child in 1960, Hillary favored Richard Nixon over Jack Kennedy. In 1964, she volunteered in Barry Goldwaterâ€™s campaign. At Wellesley College, she led the campus Young Republican club.
In 1968, while progressive students were trying to stop the Vietnam War, she interned for the House Republican Conference in Washington, DC; then worked for Nelson Rockefeller at the Republican National Convention, in Miami Beach, Florida. [See â€śMeet The Next President,â€ť by Bill Sammon; summarized in S.F. Examiner, Dec. 10-14, 2007.]
Her position on same-sex marriage, as on most issues, is â€śmoderateâ€ť. Like the mainstream of the national Democratic Party, she wants to creep forward slowly into the new century. Still, thatâ€™s better than the Republican Party, which wants to flee backward into the Victorian era.
Yet in November 2008, I hope the Democratic Presidential nomineee will win â€” even if Dems nominate the Goldwater Girl.
After almost eight years of Bush-fascism, only a Democratic president offers any realistic hope of restoring democracy.
Tortuga Bi Liberty
Privatization of UC Extension Campus
As I continue to follow the neglect of the community by UC and developer AF Evans, it deeply troubles me that of the proposed â€ś455 housing units, 13 to 15 units would be low-income,â€ť or 3%. SHAME!!!
With many financial and entitlement tools available to provide for greater affordability and stronger community-oriented focus, the developer took the short path, seeking out the Chamber of Commerce and wealthy backers while forgetting about those who will need this shelter and community most. I am Board President of the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation where we strive for the deepest affordability, with often 100% of the units targeted at those persons on fixed income. We have successfully integrated historic structures with new construction and provide buildings that strengthen neighborhoods. Yes, these projects require more thought and work, however, the up-front work often delivers a project for ALL to be proud.
If AF Evans is serious about being with the community, re-work your proforma and include greater affordable units at deeper affordability. If AF Evans is unable to meet the public and community objectives, perhaps, Bridge Housing or another developer can accomplish an acceptable and welcomed project.
Bravo to the Save the UC Berkeley Extension Laguna Street Campus and Lower Haight residents and business owners, who are trying to open up a planning process and public resource for the benefit of many future generations.
Outside of the developerâ€™s timeframe for a planning decision, why is the UC Extension Campus on a fast track for approval? Something is not right.
Supervisor Mirkarimi is asking for 40% set aside for affordable housing. Housing activist Tommi Avicolli Mecca says â€śdo better.â€ť
I say â€śreach deeperâ€ť so that the affordable units have meaning and are affordable to those households with the greatest need. As a community, we have the opportunity to retain a campus setting and its architecture and develop a community-based plan that incorporates the historic nature of the school with needed uses such as housing (that is affordable at all income levels) and supportive services. Retention of a current land use/building can be married with a desired land use. Sometimes it takes intelligence, courage, and political leadership.
With a rush vote, Iâ€™m left wondering why City Hall is ignoring or diminishing the value of this opportunity? Do we turn the cheek on self-serving interests? Or do we do what is in the best interest of San Francisco and include community stakeholders at the table.
(formerly of San Francisco)