How are you holding up?
We have been asking that question of friends, family, and our chosen family for the past few weeks as we shelter in place, maintain distance from loved ones, and come together to deal with the coronavirus and its destructive wake.
Our community is resilient. We have experienced enormous loss over the decades. We have faced prejudice that has driven us out from our homes. We have moved across the country to start fresh and find new families. And even today, we remain strong in the face of anti-LGBTQ discrimination at home and around the world.
Through it all, we have cared for each other. But now, with a racist, anti-scientist threat to humanity in the White House, we in the Harvey Milk Club need to lead with kindness and compassion now more than ever.
And let’s be honest: Being human also means staying connected. This means finding new ways to see each other, hear each other’s voices, and an obligation to reach out to community members with greater needs.
So really: How are you holding up? How are you connecting with other people at this time? What do you need? Email us at email@example.com and let us know. Our meetings may be going virtual soon, but the Milk Club is still at your service.
Now, read on…
Can't Pay Rent? Here is What to Do!
A record 3.3 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week. And a hundred thousand people apply in California everyday. Nevertheless, April 1st means rent is due for most of us.
The good news is that San Francisco has imposed a Temporary Eviction Moratorium for all tenants who are unable to pay rent due to impacts of COVID-19.
Under the Temporary Moratorium on evictions, a landlord cannot evict a tenant if all of these requirements are met:
The rental payment first became due on or after March 13th, 2020.
The tenant was unable to pay rent because of the financial impacts related to COVID-19.
The tenant notified the landlord within 30 days of when the rent was due that the tenant is unable to pay due to the financial impacts related to COVID-19.
Within 7 days after notifying the landlord, the tenant provided documentation or other verifiable information that the tenant is unable to pay rent due to the financial impacts of COVID-19.
The above protections can delay your payment of rent for up to three months, unless it extends further. But they do not relieve you of your duty to pay back-rent when the moratorium expires. The Harvey Milk Club is deeply concerned that this is leading us to an “eviction cliff” and are working with partner organizations to provide additional relief!
You can find more specific guidance here or at the San Francisco Rent Board’s website.
Sunday Quaran-Tea Party
A major update for those of us who have been feeling particularly cloistered from the nightlife community that brings us together: Dancing together in the privacy of our own homes to some of the Bay Area’s best queer nightlife DJ’s has been deemed... ESSENTIAL!!
A lot of friends are throwing virtual parties right now, but we are prioritizing this afternoon's Quaran-Tea Party on Facebook Live and Twitch tomorrow (and every Sunday until this shit is through) from 1-6pm for live DJ sets hosted by drag queen Florida Maniac (aka Lady Voldemort).
This is all thanks to the San Francisco Bay Area Queer Nightlife Fund, established by drag legend Juanita More, Race Bannon, and a number of bar owners and nightlife impresarios who are caring for all of their workers during this time. From bar staff, to door security, to go-gos, coat check and all of the other essential staff at our favorite joints.
If you have the means, lend a hand to those who don’t by donating to the Queer Nightlife Fund here.
Hooking Up is on HOLD. #StayTheFuckHome
Look, we get it. It’s more than just sex. It is how we meet new people and an important part of how our community interacts. Heck, our bodily delights and physical communion can certainly feel like a necessary, revolutionary act!
But San Francisco’s Shelter In Place order exists not only to protect our own health and safety. It also protects the safety of others in our community, including our friends and roommates, many of whom are uniquely vulnerable to the worst symptoms of the coronavirus.
The sacrifices we make today will help us recover more quickly. Have tough talks with your friends and roommates. Be honest with people you encounter about your risk of exposure, and don’t be afraid to ask them for the same.
This is not about shaming each other. Rather, we require a collective resolve to end this pandemic as soon as possible.
Feel free to read Race Bannon’s piece in the Bay Area Reporter called Sex in the Era of COVID-19 here.
Volunteer Opportunites and Resources for Those in Need
Whether you are in need or are an able-bodied Milk Club Member with some extra time and a big heart, there are plenty of ways to plug in, get help, and make a difference right now:
Since 1998, Project Open Hand has served San Francisco seniors and adults with disabilities with nutritious meals and now operates out of 15 sites in San Francisco. Project Open Hand needs volunteers to meet urgent community needs. Find out more here.
If you live in District 5 and/or want to volunteer? Friends have put together a list of D5-specific volunteer opportunities here.
Did we miss any hot opportunities to help? Email us firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know.
Chinese Food Has NEVER Tasted Better
Amid an uptick in anti-Asian violence, we in the Milk Club need to show solidarity with San Francisco’s Chinese community. And it’s never tasted as delicious as this!
Check out the full list here, and if you haven’t had the jalapeno fried chicken wings at Capital yet, you can’t have them soon enough. (Plenty of veggie options available, too.)
COVID-19 is causing a lot of stress. But people who already suffer from existing mental health issues like depression and anxiety are particularly vulnerable during these unprecedented times. Senior citizens and people who live alone are especially at risk.
Self-care during self-quarantine means eating well, getting enough sleep, and spending time outside to the extent that it is safe and allowable. There are a number of resources for folks in our community who need additional self-care tips and other services:
The Trevor Project is a national 24-hour, toll free confidential suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth. Call 1-866-488-7386 or text START to 678678.
The Felton Institute San Francisco Suicide Prevention provides a 24-hour hotline for people experiencing mental health crises. Call 415-781-0500.
The Institute on Aging offers a 24-hour friendship line for people 60 years and older, adults with disabilities, and those feeling isolated. Call 1-800-971-0016.
The Mental Health Association of San Francisco has a 24-hour peer-run line for nonemergency emotional support. Call 1-855-845-7415.
Headspace has a library of guided meditations.
Ten Percent Happier offers guided meditations, coronavirus-focused sessions that are free of charge, and a daily virus-focused livestream and Q&A.
The Virus Anxiety website has daily mantras, write-in mental health questions, and calming online distractions.
The Disaster Distress Helpline provides crisis counselling and support for anyone in the United States experiencing distress or other behavioral health concerns. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66764.
The Crisis Text Line provides free, 24/7 text-based support. Text MHA to 741741 and you can connect to a trained crisis counselor.
From The Vault
In 1978, Susan Sonntag wrote that nothing is more punitive than to give a disease a meaning. We remember how AIDS was characterized as a “gay disease,” which allowed politicians to brush it under the rug and refuse to take action that could have saved lives. Today, we join our allies in condemning the President and his enablers seeking to label the current pandemic as a “Chinese Virus.”
In 1980, long before researchers understood what was causing primarily young, gay men to die from pneumocystis carinii pneumonia and Kaposi sarcoma, then-Milk Club President Bill Kraus addressed the Club:
“The problem lies not in evil personalities or traitorous acts, but rather in the political orientation which believes that an oppressed group gets what it needs by being careful not to offend the powerful.
“The problem lies in the desire to protect the little that we have gotten by not risking a fight for what we deserve. The problem lies in believing that what we have gotten is somehow a favor given to us by politicians rather than the politicians’ recognition of what we have the political power to demand and get.”
Thanks for reading. Stay safe, and stay healthy.
Your Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club