San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman says his passion for politics goes back to age 5 and his passion for providing mental health services to combat homelessness from his mother “spiraling into mental illness” some years later.

Though he grew up in gay-friendly San Francisco from age 11 — when he moved north to live with his grandmother — he “had to leave San Francisco to come out” while a sophomore at Yale, which he called “the gay Ivy.”

Mandelman shares more about his life on this week’s Out in the Bay, and about efforts to preserve queer culture in SF’s Castro district and city-wide, affordable housing, mental health, homelessness and economic recovery from COVID.  

On the lighter side, he said among the many proposals in SF’s emerging LGBTQ Cultural Heritage Strategy is the new position of a “San Francisco drag laureate” to “spread the gospel of drag” and help revive tourism.

He says the city still has more pain to endure as businesses continue to close due to COVID. A “silver lining” he sees is that after some 100,000 residents left SF in 2020, rents may have fallen enough that artists, creators, small businesses and a generally more diverse population will be able to afford San Francisco again.

Rafael Mandelman is currently the only openly LGBTQ member of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors. He represents District 8, which includes the Castro, Glen Park, Noe Valley, Diamond Heights and Mission Dolores.

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