Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 13 / 29 March 2018

Online Extra: Gays Across America: Carson Jones to appear at chorus gala


In this photo that went viral, Carson Jones, second from left, gives some side eye to Vice President Mike Pence, who is swearing in Alabama Senator Doug Jones (D) after his upset victory in a December special election.
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Carson Jones, the gay son of recently elected Alabama Senator Doug Jones (D) is coming to San Francisco for the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus' Crescendo gala, set for Saturday, February 24.

The younger Jones has won fans for his looks and for his much-memed side eye of Vice President Mike Pence when he was swearing in the elder Jones. His visit to San Francisco will be "his first LGBT appearance" since he publicly came out as gay just after his father beat alleged pedophile Republican Roy Moore for the U.S. Senate in December, according to the chorus.

In a statement to the Bay Area Reporter, Carson Jones indicated this would be the first of many such appearances.

"I'm incredibly excited and honored to be able to attend the event this year," stated Jones. "I look forward to helping to recognize the tireless work that SFGMC put in this year. I feel fortunate that I will hopefully be able to make a positive impact on a variety of different issues starting with this event.

SFGMC Executive Director Chris Verdugo stated, "This year on our 40th anniversary, the Crescendo Gala will shine a spotlight on the importance of family. We continually surround ourselves with people who love us whether it's our logical or biological families. With the launch of our new program Rhythm, we're hoping to spread this message of love and community to the younger generation. Our ultimate goal is to support them living their authentic lives and showing them they have a family that loves them."

Also appearing at the event will be composer Andrew Lippa and AT&T's Ken McNeely, who will be recognized for their work supporting the LGBT community, as well as "Star Trek: Discovery" star Wilson Cruz and Kelley Jakle from "Pitch Perfect." San Francisco mayoral candidate London Breed, president of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, is also scheduled to attend.

The gala starts at 5 p.m. for VIPs and will be held at the Fairmont San Francisco, 950 Mason Street. Tickets start at $250. For tickets and more information, visit


Elton John AIDS Foundation grant syringe access funds

The Elton John AIDS Foundation recently announced $2.4 million in Syringe Access Fund grants to organizations around the country, including two in San Francisco.

"Injection drug use has always been a primary mode of transmission for both HIV and viral hepatitis, and the sharing of needles continues to result in thousands of new HIV transmissions each year," said Sir Elton John in a news release. "In light of recent HIV outbreaks linked to injection drug use, which threaten to curb the progress we've made toward ending HIV, this is a critical time to continue resourcing programs that provide clean needles and other equipment to injection drug users, because these programs are proven to help prevent the spread of the disease."

Homeless Youth Alliance and the San Francisco Drug Users Union are the two San Francisco agencies that were selected as grant recipients. Officials from the two groups didn't respond to emailed requests for comment.

The news hadn't even reached one awardee.

Like many communities around the U.S., the town of about 20,000 in southern Ohio has been hit by the opioid epidemic.

"We probably see around 200 unique clients through our program a month, so the funding would help support clean syringes for them in order to prevent the spread of HIV and hepatitis C," said Wicker.

She said Portsmouth had no new HIV infections in 2017, and she attributes that success to syringe exchange.

Most of the intravenous drug users that the agency sees are addicted to opiates, she said. They often start by using pain pills, then move on to heroin.

"Now we're seeing that in 2016, over half of our overdose fatalities had fentanyl in the toxicology reports," said Wicker, and the trend is expected to continue. "... A lot of those people don't even know they're getting fentanyl. They just think they're getting heroin." (Drug dealers often mix fentanyl with heroin and sell it as straight heroin.)

Prevention NOT Permission (PNP), Portsmouth City Health Department's syringe exchange program, "operates solely on community donations and needs additional funds to support programming and continued operation, and to encourage sustainability," Wicker added in an email.

The agency's website is


Gays Across America is a column addressing LGBTQ issues nationwide. It runs most Tuesdays. Please submit comments or column ideas to Seth Hemmelgarn at (415) 875-9986 or



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