Political Note: SF LGBTQ Dem club elects first Asian male president :: Bay Area Reporter

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Members of the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club elected Jeffrey Kwon to lead a progressive political group in 2023. He is the first Asian-American man to hold the office and the first Asian-American president in nearly 30 years.

The first Asian American to lead the club was Angie Hua, who served as president in 1992. She also became the first out-of-her lesbian to win a seat on the San Francisco Public School Board that year.

Kwon, who is gay, grew up in the city’s Chinatown neighborhood and graduated from Lowell High School. East He Bay School District, which provides special education services, has served as vice president of events and fundraising for the Milk Club for the past two years.

The previous club president, Edward Wright, has decided not to seek a third one-year term this year. To succeed him, Michael Ruppet and Melissa Hernandez were also elected co-presidents.

However, at a political group meeting on January 17, a majority of Milk Club members voted for Kwon. Wright told Bay Area reporters that the results were not announced until late Wednesday night, Jan. 18, because it took time to make sure everyone who cast the ballot was eligible.

Kwon, 35, first joined the Milk Club as a member in 2015 and was first elected to the Standing Committee in 2018. His goals as president this year include doubling and diversifying the group’s membership.

When Kwon learned that he had been elected, he told BAR, “I was happy to gain the trust of the members.” “I think my hard work and dedication to the club have really paid off and I want to move the club forward.”

Joining Kwon on the Board as the Milk Club’s Vice President of Communications is Gary McCoy, who has just left his position as male co-chair of the Alice B. Toklas LGBTQ Democratic Club. He has co-headed the more moderate Alice Club for the past two years.

There is precedent for leaders from two of the city’s major LGBTQ political groups leading one club and then taking leadership roles in another. She eventually became co-chair of Alice’s Political Action Committee after former Milk Club co-chair Honey Mahogany lost her bid for re-election in 2019. Martha Knutzen was appointed in 1995. in 2012 and she was co-chair of Alice in 2013.

McCoy is looking for a seat in the Milk Club, as it is believed that the District 8 Supervisor seat will open and be available in 2026, so it is his Some question whether it is to hone progressive qualifications. One of the former presidents, Mr. Tom Temprano, is the likely successor to his gay supervisor, Mr. Raphael Mandelmann. Rafael Mandelman worked until his retirement last year to become the political director of his statewide LGBTQ advocacy group, He Equality California.

However, McCoy has had a long association with the Milk Club, having joined as a member ten years ago. Two years ago, he and former Milk Club co-president Laura Thomas won the Milk Club’s Hank Wilson His Activist Award for his advocacy in support of supervised consumption sites for drug users. bottom.

McCoy, who now works as HealthRIGHT 360’s vice president of policy and public relations, continues to pressure city officials to allow such sites to open. So does Thomas as Director of Harm Reduction Policy at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

The Milk Club has historically taken a more active role in policy battles than the Alice Club, so McCoy explained to BAR why he asked for a seat on Milk’s board of directors this year. provides him with a platform to work with members of the Milk Club to promote safe consumption sites in California.

Gov. Gavin Newsom last year vetoed a bill that would allow several cities, including San Francisco, to test such facilities for drug users, but city officials are now taking action against local non-governmental law enforcement agencies. London’s Breed Mayor and 9th District Supervisor Hilary Ronen said last week that privately owned safe consumption sites would be approved. announced that it is working to update the city’s rules to prevent

“Having spent more than ten years with Alice as a board member, over the last few years working with the Milk Club on many issues in various capacities has brought me closer to grassroots activism. I was able to do it,” he said. McCoy. “I have been chatting with people at Milk over the past year about finally being more proactive and have expressed an interest in working on communication for the club. Thank you for your support and I will elect you to the 2023 Board of Directors.”

Lesbian elected leader of the Democratic Party

Joy Silver, a lesbian who twice lost bids for state Senate seats, including in retired LGBTQ and tourist mecca Palm Springs, now leads the Democratic Party in Riverside County. Party members elected Silver at the county party’s December meeting.

She has served as Vice President of Democratic Women in the Desert and serves as Chief Strategy Officer for Community Housing Opportunity Corporation, a nonprofit affordable housing developer. Couldn’t run for Senate.

The Riverside County Democratic Party is one of 58 county committees affiliated with the California Democratic Party and works to select party candidates on the ballot and to register voters. Silver will succeed Tisa Rodriguez, who has stepped down to become Vice President of Close the Gap California. This group works to elect women to state legislatures.

“I am an active and passionate advocate for the Democratic candidate, and I am dedicated to the causes we champion as a party and the people we serve,” said Silver, a Palm Springs resident. , I am honored to use my experience, vision and creativity to participate in the fight for democratic control of Riverside County and to vote for my candidate.”

Stay abreast of the latest LGBTQ political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @.

Any tips on LGBTQ politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or email

Please help us keep the Bay Area Reporter active during this difficult time. Consider becoming a BAR member to support local independent LGBTQ journalism.


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