News from Marin’s LGBT Spahr Center

We would like to thank all of the members of the Marin County Board of Supervisors for two important and recent actions. On June 2, the Board approved a Resolution declaring June as LGBTQ+ Pride month, and restating their commitment to assuring policies and funding to address the needs of the community. The resolution called for flying the Pride Flag for the entire month of June over seven different County buildings – a first! Special thanks go to Board President Katie Rice for her leadership on the Resolution and the logistics of installing Pride Flags during the month.

On June 23, the Board approved a $10,000 grant to support a new program at The Spahr Center to serve LGBTQ seniors. This outreach effort is intended to identify and support seniors living in nursing homes, residential care and assisted living to reduce isolation and provide social support. It follows on from another $10,000 grant recently provided by the County’s Adult & Aging Services agency to conduct phone outreach to 160 senior Spahr Center clients to check on their welfare during the Covid-19 emergency.  

We are very grateful to the Board for making this grant from its Non-Profit Community Partner Program. The Board received $2.6 million in requests for $700,000 in funding, making it a real honor to be supported. Special thanks to Supervisor Damon Connolly for his advocacy on behalf of The Spahr Center’s request.

The Spahr Center Starts a New Program to Provide Medications to its HIV-Positive Clients!

A federal program called the 340B Drug Pricing Program permits certain non-profit organizations to purchase medications at the lowest available price for their clients. The Spahr Center was recently approved to offer this service to 140 eligible clients of the agency. To do so, we have partnered with Mission Wellness Pharmacy in San Francisco, an expert on 340B that provides a very high level of service to its clients. This includes packaging medications in easy to use daily pill packs and delivery by mail, courier or pick up at The Spahr Center’s office. 340 B medications will be billed to our clients’ insurers, and revenue from the program will be used to expand our HIV services. In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, our HIV clients are experiencing increasing issues with housing, financial and food insecurity. 340B revenue will enable The Spahr Center to address these urgent needs. For more information about participating in the program, please email lgallen@thespahrcenter.org.
Marin County’s Health and Human Services Agency Makes a Strong Statement About Non-Discrimination in Health Care Services

In June, the Trump administration reversed an Obama-era rule implementing the Affordable Care Act which prohibited discrimination against LGBTQ people in the provision of health care services. The Trump action was especially targeted at transgender individuals to deny them a range of services, including hormone treatments and gender confirmation surgeries.  

On June 24, Benita McLarin, Marin County’s Director of Health & Human Services, issued a strong response to the Trump rule.  

“The Marin County Health & Human Services Department condemns this action as a step backwards in advancing the Marin HHS vision that All in Marin Flourish. Marin HHS is charged with protecting the health and well-being of all County residents and supports protection of LGBTQ+ persons against discrimination in the delivery of healthcare. We urge the Trump Administration to reconsider this decision that will lead to adverse health outcomes for the LGBTQ community for years to come.”

The Spahr Center is enormously grateful to Director McLarin and Jei Africa, Director of Behavioral Health & Recovery Services, a division of HHS, for their leadership. We view it as critical that Marin County officials make clear that LGBTQ+ people, and people living with and affected by HIV, will receive equal treatment under local laws and be treated with dignity and respect in all of its services. Our thanks for this declaration of sound policy.
A Recording is Available of the Spahr Center’s LGBTQ+ Pride Event 

On June 18, The Spahr Center held a well-attended LGBTQ+ Pride event on Zoom. We honored our Founder and namesake Janie Spahr, who was the highest vote-getter to be Grand Marshall of the San Francisco Pride Parade. And we heard from two brilliant and moving panels of speakers. The first panel discussed the history of LGBTQ+ activism in Marin County, and told important stories about pivotal events in the history of both the Marin AIDS Project and Spectrum LGBTQ Center, which merged five years ago to form The Spahr Center. This panel included Janie Spahr, Jayne Schabel, Jim Tomlinson, Paula Pilecki and Beth Lillard.
Our second panel of participants in The Spahr Center’s Youth Program discussed their vision and aspirations for the future of LGBTQ+ activism in Marin County and nationally. Their presentation was galvanizing for its calls to genuinely address the intersection of LGBTQ+ and racial issues, and it firmly established that a new generation of queer activists will assure greater equity and progress in our movement for social justice. Thank you to Alex Marshall, Grace Marshall, Harris Neal, and Simon Darrow for participating in this discussion.
Click here to watch the video! The password is SpahrPride20!
Marin Rallies Against Transphobia and Anti-Black Racism

On Saturday, June 20, two Marin residents severely verbally harassed both Jasper Lauter, a 17 year old transgender person and a group of young people holding a bake sale in support of Black Lives Matter in downtown Fairfax. In response, The Spahr Center’s Director of Youth Programs, Fel Agrelius, and our Youth Advocacy Coalition, organized a spirited rally attended by 75 people on June 25, also in Fairfax. Speakers demanded an end to discrimination and violence against transgender people, advocated for concrete actions in response to the murders of Black Americans at the hands of the police, and the importance for the LGBTQ+ community to stand in solidarity with Black and Brown activists.
Following the rally, Fairfax Police Chief Chris Morin, who had come out as a gay man three days before in a City Council meeting, referred hate crime charges against the Marin couple to District Attorney Lori Frugoli.  

The Spahr Center’s Board of Directors applauds Fel and the Youth Advocacy Coalition for their strong work in the last year to organize and create opportunities for queer youth in Marin County to give voice to their experience and aspirations.
Photos: Jasper Lauter and Alex Marshall
The Spahr Center Convenes a Social Justice Fellowship for Queer and Trans Youth
This summer, the Youth Advocacy Coalition (YAC) has expanded into a larger group of queer and trans young people committed to social justice advocacy. There are 17 fellows who are each full of energy, passion, and excitement to work together towards equity in Marin. The YAC has always been a mighty force for LGBTQ+ equity in the county. Its members are bringing their wisdom and expertise to join with peers across Marin to mobilize as queer and trans youth committed to creating a County that is safe, supportive, and empowering for all of its residents. 

The fellowship consists of three major sections: community building, learning about social justice theories and histories, and taking action in the community! In peer-led weekly discussions, fellows talk about sustainable activism, different roles people may play in movements, generational divides and connections, positionality, and more. During “Liberation School” classes, fellows read many of the key authors of intersectional feminist and queer theory, including Kimberle Crenshaw, Andrea Smith, and Dean Spade; research and present on key moments and movements in LGBTQ+ history such as Stonewall, the Compton Cafeteria Riots, STAR, and gay bars.

Finally, fellows divide into small workgroups to manifest different community support structures and work for justice! The groups discussed different projects last week, and are currently investigating the possibilities of food-related mutual aid, a community garden, an underground newspaper, community education campaigns, and art projects. Fel, who facilitates the program, is extremely excited for what is in store for the rest of the summer, and is already planning the next version of the fellowship to launch during the school year. 
Two New Support Groups for Senior Women and Bisexuals 

The Spahr Center is inviting participation in two new monthly drop-in groups. The first is for senior lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer women. The second is for bisexual men and women. Both groups are to be led by therapists, and while ongoing participation is encouraged, individuals may join on a drop-in basis. Dates and times of meetings will be chosen by participants and facilitators once the groups have formed. For more information or to sign up, please email info@thespahrcenter.org
Help Us Get to Zero in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS: Support Spahr’s AIDS Walk 2020 Team
Virtual AIDS WALK 2020 is more important than ever!

Renewed international demands for racial justice are a call to all of us to reflect upon racial inequality in our communities. New HIV cases in Marin have dropped to levels not seen before. Unfortunately, however, 2019 was the first year in which new infections in our communities of color outnumbered those among whites. We will not eliminate HIV until we eliminate longstanding racial disparities in this epidemic.

All funds raised by members of The Spahr Center’s AIDS Walk 2020 Team will help fund new HIV prevention programs providing culturally appropriate outreach to and services for young men of color, especially PrEP (a daily pill that stops HIV transmission). This, in combination with our programs that provide testing and treatment to newly diagnosed people with HIV will save lives and prevent further transmissions.

Getting to Zero HIV-related deaths and new HIV infections is our goal for everyone in the community. Can you help us get there? Please make a donation today by going to https://sf.aidswalk.net/andyfyne

BREAKING NEWS:  On the morning of Sunday, July 19 join a 90 minute virtual AIDS Walk by visiting https://sf.aidswalk.net/! Scheduled performances and appearances include: Bette Midler, Gloria Estefan, Vanessa Williams, Laura Linney, Matt Bomer, Alex Newell, Skylar Astin, Alan Cumming, stars from “Queer Eye” and more.