After nearly 4 decades, gay bathhouses are now able to apply for permits to open in San Francisco.
In the mid-1980s, the city’s health department put in place tight regulations in order to try and curb the burgeoning AIDS epidemic.
At the time, the restrictions prohibited private locked rooms and required employees monitoring any possibly ‘dangerous’ behaviors.
Basically, those rules amounted to a ban on bathhouses in the city.
Currently, there’s one bathhouse operating in the area – Steamworks in Berkeley. That venue is currently closed due to the ongoing pandemic restrictions.
There is one private sex club, Eros, located in the Castro district, which has operated along the 1980s era rules.
According to the Bay Area Reporter, District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman has been working for a year to overturn the restrictions. He found out last week the city’s health officials had updated the regulations for adult sex venues.
“It is symbolically significant right now,” Mandelman told the Reporter. “Whether it is significant on the ground depends on if entrepreneurs with the vision and financial capacities and the savvy to open can and operate one of these.”
Mandelman sent a copy of the revised rules in advance of them being published.
Titled, “Minimum Standards for Operation of Sex Clubs, Commercial Sex Venues and Parties,” the 3-page document lists sexual activities that could open the door to exposure to HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases.
Those activities, including anal and vaginal intercourse without a condom and fisting without a latex glove, must be posted at entrances of the venues in English, Spanish, Chinese and Tagalog.
Patrons, 18 years or older, will also be required to sign in writing they understand the posted regulations. Additionally, there can be no consumption of alcohol nor any sex-for-pay on the premises.
The venues must also provide hot and cold running water, soap, towels, plus free lube and condoms.
No word on if/when a business owner will apply for a permit especially in the middle of the COVID-19 health threat.
Also, it remains to be seen how much of a market there may be for such businesses. Back in the day, gay bathhouses were popular for men looking for other like-minded men for sex.
But with dating apps like Grindr and Scruff, we’ll have to see how popular a new bathhouse might be today when you can basically ‘order in’ for free.
Mandelman, though, is hopeful a new bathhouse operator will step up. He told the Reporter, “It is a good development and sets the stage for bathhouses to be part of our economic recovery.”
• Gay Star News: San Francisco may finally see gay bathhouses return thanks to the city relaxing rules it brought in at the height of the AIDS crisis. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the city’s governing council, voted unanimously on Tuesday to remove the restrictions on saunas in hopes that the businesses will now ‘reopen as part of the city’s COVID-19 economic recovery’.
• Meidas Touch: A Democratic super PAC is launching an anti-President Trump ad that uses former President Reagan’s comments in a 1980 presidential debate when he was challenging then-President Carter. The ad is set to air exclusively on Fox News over the course of the next week and features Reagan’s famous debate moment when he asked the country if it was “better off” than it was four years ago.
• Queerty: Actresses Indya Moore and Angelica Ross, of FX’s Pose, have criticized the Emmy Nominations, just one day after their announcement. The two transgender actresses attacked the Television Academy for ignoring the trans performers on the show, and lashed out at the show’s network, FX, for a lack of promotion.
• KIT212: Kenneth helps us all over Hump Day with his latest installment of ‘Wrestle Wednesday’ (below).
• The Gaily Grind: Four plainclothes NYC police officers were caught on video jumping out of an unmarked grey Kia minivan in broad daylight, snatching an 18-year-old transgender protester off the street, wrestling her to the ground, and throwing her into the vehicle before speeding away from the intersection.
NYC is taking after Portland – a trans femme protestor was pulled into an unmarked van at the Abolition Park protest – this was at 2nd Ave and 25th Street pic.twitter.com/1PDhSYuK9h
Another ‘Karen’ found her time in the spotlight last week when a woman named Lisa Alexander approached Jaime Juanillo in front of his home in San Francisco.
Juanillo was stenciling the words ‘Black Lives Matter’ in chalk on the retaining wall of his home in the Pacific Heights neighborhood when Ms. Alexander and her husband stopped to ask him “Is this your property?”
When Juanillo inquired as to the nature of their questions, they told him “it’s private property.”
“Respectfully,” Alexander says to Juanillo, “absolutely your [Black Lives Matter] signs and everything, that’s good, but this is not the way to do it. It’s private property.”
“But if I did live here and it was my property, this would be absolutely fine,” Juanillo responded. “ And you don’t know if I live here or if this is my property.”
With the tone of an elementary school teacher, Alexander raises her finger gently to her chin and says, “Yes, we do know. Because we know the person that does live here.”
Juanillo told the couple if they believe he was committing a crime, they should call the police because “I’d be more than happy to talk to them.”
The couple continued to ask Juanillo’s name and he refused to give them that information saying, “You’re the ones asking me questions.”
Alexander – “But we’re not doing anything illegal.”
Juanillo – “Neither am I.”
Alexander – “Actually, you are.”
And so, Lisa Alexander and her husband, who shared his name is Robert, walked off and called the police.
A white couple call the police on me, a person of color, for stencilling a #BLM chalk message on my own front retaining wall. “Karen” lies and says she knows that I don’t live in my own house, because she knows the person who lives here. #blacklivesmatterpic.twitter.com/rOpHvKVwgP
They would later be mortified when the police pulled up to the residence and it became clear the officers knew Jaime Juanillo, and he did indeed live in that home.
In fact, as Juanillo recently shared with local station KQED, he married his husband in the backyard of the home and had lived there for 18 years.
Juanillo, who is of Filipino descent, told KQED,“It’s not unusual at all for me to get a look like, ‘Do you belong here?’”
He says he held his composure during the incident because one, he knew he had a right to be there, and two, he realized the couple’s intentions were more about race and less about chalk.
“Lisa and Robert knew it was chalk art, and that it was going to be washed away in the first rain,” Juanillo said. So, the issue wasn’t ‘destroying property’ but the Black Lives Message itself.
“And once I knew that,” he said, “I can act how I needed to act. It was simple after that.”
“They’re wrong,” he added. “And they rode that racial bias all the way off a cliff.”
Juanillo says in hindsight, he’s struck by how far Alexander was taking the issue.
“You can presume that she knew by calling the police that I could possibly die,” said Juanillo. “She was OK with that. Even knowing that I was just working with chalk, she’s willing to call men with guns.”
Juanillo considered not posting the video of the encounter for a short while. But later in the day, while standing in his living room, he saw the couple pass by again. He knocked on the window hoping to grab their attention.
“If they had come up to my door and they had apologized, I would have accepted it, not posted this. And they could have kept their businesses and lives intact,” Juanillo told KQED. “It was all up to them: Action after action after action.”
But instead of admitting they’d been wrong, Juanillo says, “The look on their faces was total mortification” as they kept walking by the home.
He says he shared the video because he wanted people to see the more subtle racist conflicts that happen in an effort to help educate white people that they even exist.
“If enough people see incidents like this, then maybe people will actually think about it and change their behavior,” Juanillo said. He also addressed those on social media who said he should have argued or engaged in the conflict.
“Do you really think they’re going to believe me if I point out a $10 million house and say I live there?” Juanillo said.
The Bay Area Reporter shares that, just as cities and states began to follow shelter-at-home orders in March, César Salza and Kyle Hill found they had to rethink the wedding ceremony of their dreams they’d hoped to host in San Francisco.
Having already obtained their marriage license (which the city has now stopped issuing due to the epidemic), the couple arranged to be married on April 18 in a friend’s backyard complete with face masks and social distancing among 8 friends.
“We had planned on something in June but we realized quickly with COVID-19 that it wouldn’t be possible,” Hill told the Reporter.
“The pandemic couldn’t stop us,” Salza wrote on Instagram. “Don’t worry we practiced social distancing with the rest of witnesses.”
While guest-hosting The Rush Limbaugh Show today, Fox News personality Mark Steyn mocked San Francisco for being one of the first cities to lockdown during the ongoing coronavirus threat saying it’s because “it’s a big gay town” with “all the compromised immune systems.”
“San Francisco has just ordered everyone to shelter in place, just to say, ‘Stay in your apartment. Don’t leave your apartment unless you need to go out to a grocery store or to a pharmacy or to a doctor’s.’
“Why are they doing that? Why is San Francisco the first to do that? Because they’ve got all the gay guys there.
“It’s a big gay town, San Francisco, and they’re the ones with all the compromised immune systems from all the protease inhibitors and all the other stuff. And they don’t want all the gays dropping dead on the San Francisco mayor’s watch. So that’s why they’ve got all that sheltering in place there.
“And even if it dropped, they all dropped dead on the San Francisco mayor’s watch, if there was a big gay apocalypse, you know, the way this thing is going now, it would be Trump who would get blamed for it anyway.
“He’d be — it would be his homophobia that would have struck down all these people in San Francisco. So that’s why they’ve all been ordered to stay home. And it’s not easy staying home.”
District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who represents the LGBTQ-centric Castro area in San Francisco, has introduced legislation that would lay the groundwork for allowing gay bathhouses to reopen.
Back in 1984, as the AIDS epidemic was reaching a fever-pitch, San Francisco put new rules in place ordering owners to tear down individual cubicles with locks on the doors as well as having employees ‘monitor’ the sexual activities of patrons to ensure there was no unsafe sex taking place.
But advancements in medical science in the decades since has changed the HIV landscape.
Modern HIV medications are now capable of bringing viral loads down to undetectable making transmission of the virus nearly impossible. Plus, the advent of PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) has led to a dramatic decline in new HIV infections, especially in San Francisco.
District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney, whose district includes the South of Market neighborhood where most gay bathhouses were located back in the day, has expressed his support of the new legislation.
Pointing to the advances in HIV drugs, as well as research which has shown monitoring sexual activity in bathhouses has “little to no effect,” Haney announced he will be co-sponsoring Mandelman’s legislation.
The change in policies would instruct the city health director to “revise the health department’s minimum standards governing the operation of adult sex venues so they no longer ban locked doors or require sex monitoring by staff,” writes the Bay Area Reporter.
The proposal could also include requiring bathhouses to provide free condoms and other safe sex supplies.
The ordinance requires that these new minimum standards be adopted by no later than July 1, 2020, and that there be a public notice and public comment process.
“When properly operated, by providing access to safer sex educational materials and supplies and HIV and STD testing, these venues assist rather than impede our efforts to control the transmission of HIV,” said Mandelman in a statement. “I hope that this ordinance will support our efforts to get to zero new HIV infections and will put a bookend on a painful chapter in the history of the queer community in San Francisco.”
Although no bathhouses currently operate in San Francisco, there are gay sex clubs, like Eros, which is a condoms-only club and doesn’t offer individual, private rooms for sexual activity.
Murray Bartlett and Laura Linney in ‘Tales of the City’
Netflix’s highly anticipated revival of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City has released its first official teaser trailer.
Based on the serial novels by Maupin, Tales of the City chronicles the lives of a group of friends living at 28 Barbary Lane in San Francisco.
“When I first got off the bus years ago,” says Laura Linney’s character at the beginning of the trailer, “I had the strangest feeling that I’d come home.”
Before HBO’s Looking or Showtime’s Queer As Folk, Tales of the City developed a huge following due to the acclaimed PBS miniseries in 1993. That success spawned two sequels (More Tales of the City in 1998, Further Tales of the City in 2001) produced by Showtime.
More than 20 years later, original cast members Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis are back, and they are joined by new cast members including Ellen Page, Charlie Barnett, Murray Bartlet, Daniela Vega and Molly Ringwald.
In the 10-episode series, Mary Ann Singleton (Laura Linney) returns to San Francisco after 20 years and is reunited with her ex-hubby Brian (Paul Gross) and daughter Shawna (Ellen Page).
Despite a “picture-perfect” life in Connecticut, a mid-life crisis sends Mary Ann back into the world of Anna Madrigal (Dukakis) and Maupin’s signature slate of eccentric San Francisco characters.
Look for RuPaul’s Drag Race alum, Bob the Drag Queen, in the mix along with more of the rich tapestry of community that is San Francisco.
Olympia Dukakis and Bob the Drag Queen (courtesy photo)
The series is scheduled to have its world premiere at the San Francisco Film Festival this Friday, April 10.
The rest of the world will have to wait until the June 7 debut on Netflix.
Check out the new teaser trailer for Tales of the City below.
The alleged attack happened about 9:50pm outside the Church of 8 Wheels roller rink.
The accused, 30-year-old Leor Bergland, was reportedly hanging around the roller rink with a sword tucked in the back of his pants and wearing a red flannel shirt and red MAGA hat, the preferred head gear of Donald Trump supporters.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports the victim, 27-year-old Gabriel Gaucin, passed Bergland on the street and swatted the MAGA hat off his head.
Prosecutors wrote in court papers that Bergland “suddenly reached back, as if to punch the victim, but instead quickly brought his hand down, hold what the victim thought was an umbrella or nightstick.”
Instead, it was a sword which partially severed Gaucin’s hand. The victim was treated at San Francisco General Hospital where he had to undergo emergency hand surgery.
The owner of the roller rink, David Miles Jr., told NBC News that Bergland was “mostly yelling anti-gay rhetoric.”
Police tracked Bergland down after matching fingerprints on a beer bottle and the MAGA hat left at the crime scene with a sword found by a security guard two days later. The weapon, wrapped in a red flannel shirt, had a matching fingerprint on it.
MAGA hat left behind by Bergland (image via
The MAGA hat is notable in reporting the story because hate crimes have surged since Donald Trump took office. The FBI has reported that hate crimes had their biggest increase since 9/11 in 2017.
And, as Miles reported, Bergland used anti-gay slurs during the attack.
Bergland told the arresting officers he was home at the time of the assault and challenged them saying, “What do you have on me? Nothing, cause I didn’t do it.”
He was charged with attempted murder, mayhem, and assault with a deadly weapon.
The Chronicle reports Bergland was “defiant” during his first appearance in court.
He didn’t enter a plea, but argued with Deputy Public Defender Eric Quandt, saying, “Why are you telling me to be quiet? You just basically implied that I did it.”
Judge Donna Little set his bail at $250,000.
A spokesman for the district attorney’s office told the Chronicle, “No one has a right to strike someone with a sword because their hat was knocked off their head.”
But Quandt pointed out in court that Bergland didn’t instigate the incident.
“What the reports seem to suggest is that this defendant reacted to being either attacked, or a hat thrown off his head, or something along those lines,” said Quandt.