Photojournalist Kristin Lyseggen profiles nine current and former inmates in “The Women of San Quentin: Soul Murder of Transgender Women in Male Prisons.” Surrounded by convicted murderers and rapists, she writes, they are often forced to fight for their lives on their way to womanhood inside some of the world’s most dangerous prisons for men. She and Daniella Tavake, one of those profiled in the book, share intimate parts of their stories with host Eric Jansen on Out in the Bay.
Lyseggen notes that California is home to one of the largest correctional systems in the Western world, and consequently one of the largest populations of incarcerated people with gender identity challenges. This has many implications that are detailed by the experiences of the women in the book. Many of these women have been forced to perform sexual acts on other inmates and guards, kept in solitary confinement when they complained, and been denied access to transition-related health care, even when prescribed by a doctor. (Live in-studio interview aired Dec. 17, 2015 on KALW, 91.7fm San Francisco.)
The Transgender, Gender Variant and Intersex (TGI) Justice Project has more information on this topic, and helps prisoners in California with alternative sentencing, access to hormones, preparing their legal cases and finding attorneys. You can also find information at the Prison Activist Resource Center.
The Women of San Quentin: Soul Murder of Transgender Women in Male Prisons is available in many independent bookstores, including Book Passage in Corte Madera and Diesel in Oakland, Brentwood and Larkspur, and on Amazon.com.
Special thanks to Kyrie Whitsett, who produced this week’s Out in the Bay. Photo by Melanie Hofmann.
With recent gay rights gains, why is it still difficult for young people to be lesbian, gay, bi, transgender or “queer,” even in the San Francisco Bay Area? The Pacific Center for Human Growth, an LGBT counseling and community center in Berkeley, reports that many queer youth feel unsafe at school every day.
Eric Jansen’s guests on Out in the Bay are from LOUD (Loving Ourselves & Uniting Diversity) the Pacific Center’s after-school youth program. What’s it like to be a gay, trans, or “questioning” adolescent — trying to figure yourself out today? Has growing mainstream acceptance helped? Legalization of same-sex marriage? Why or why not? Davi and Jesse of LOUD’s Safer Schools speaker’s bureau share their stories, and we also hear from Jared Fields, the Pacific Center’s youth programs manager. (Broadcast Dec. 10, 2015)
For more than 20 years, LOUD has provided a social space for young folks to meet each other, participate in discussions and other activities, and receive counseling if they want it. LOUD’s two key funders cut their support recently at about the same time, and the Pacific Center is seeking donations by December 31 to keep LOUD’s full range of services intact in 2016.
Give what you can and learn more about the Pacific Center’s discussion groups and other services for teens and adults at the Pacific Center’s website, PacificCenter.org. The Pacific Center has been serving the East Bay LGBT community since 1978.
Blackmail, My Love, is a noir murder-mystery novel set in San Francisco, 1951 – “The Dark Ages of Queerdom,” as author and illustrator Katie Gilmartin puts it – when cops raided gay and lesbian bars, beat up patrons and demanded “protection” money, and when lesbians and gay men were so afraid of public exposure they were easy blackmail targets. The book is illustrated with 21 of Gilmartin’s original prints, including “Miss Double Strand” above. Historian, printmaker, Queer Ancestors Project founder and first-time novelist Katie Gilmartin, who reads from her book and talks about San Francisco queer life in days of yore, is Eric Jansen’s guest on this week’s Out in the Bay. We also hear “The Widow Norton” herself (aka the late Jose Sarria, one of just two true-life characters in Blackmail, My Love) sing the 1950s anthem “God Save Us Nelly Queens.” (First aired Dec. 4, 2014; rebroadcast Jan. 29 and Nov. 19, 2015)
Blackmail, My Love, is published by Cleis Press, Berkeley, California
Lesbians and friends take over the stage at Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley, 8pm Friday, Nov. 13, in a concert benefiting Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a national non-profit that has defended LGBT and other civil rights in many recent legal cases and political battles. Pam Delgado and Monica Pasqual of Bay Area-based Blame Sally, one of the groups performing at the benefit, came by Out in the Bay‘s studios Thursday to share their music, tell us the REAL story behind the band’s name, why they support Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and about their experiences being queer in the music world. Eric Jansen hosts. (Aired Thurs., Nov. 12, on 91.7fm/ kalw.org)
In addition to Blame Sally, Catie Curtis and Maia Sharp appear in the benefit concert at Freight & Salvage, 2020 Addison Street, Berkeley (less than a block from downtown Berkeley BART station), 8pm Friday, Nov. 13. Info and tickets at TheFreight.org. Learn more about Blame Sally at their website, BlameSally.com.
Halloween not enough? The century-old Grand Guignol theatre style is recreated in Thrillpeddlers‘ Shocktoberfest 16: Curse of the Cobra, playing through Nov. 21 at the Hypnodrome in San Francisco. Plenty gory! And Theatre Rhinoceros, the nation’s longest-running LGBT theater company, presents the new comic drama Shakespeare Goes to War at The Thick House. Eric Jansen’s guests are Thrillpeddlers co-founder Russell Blackwood and actor David Bicha, and Theatre Rhinoceros artistic director and Shakespeare Goes to War playwright John Fisher. Get a sneak preview of the plays — including music and dialog from Shocktoberfest and from Thrillpeddlers‘ hit Club Inferno, which returns in February. (Aired 11/5/15.)
One of our favorites in capturing the queer cultural history of San Francisco in the ’70s and ’80s. Marilyn’s 2013 interview with former Cockettes member Dolores De Luce. Her memoir, “My Life, A Four-Letter Word: Confessions of a Counter-Culture Diva,” made Amazon’s Top 20. It’s an intimate, honest look back at gay life in the city during its radical heyday. Friends with Divine and Sylvester, a lover to many gay men, and witness to the devastation of AIDS, Dolores is a survivor with great stories to tell. Thursday, October 22, 2015 at 7pm Pacific.