In ‘No Straight Lines,’ We Meet Groundbreaking Queer Comic Artists

In the new documentary “No Straight Lines,” artists who took serious risks by outing themselves and creating comics about the experiences and lives of LGBT Americans look back on their work and its impacts. Director Vivian Kleiman, a Peabody Award winning filmmaker, producer, director and writer, talked with “Civic” about how these artists shaped the underground comics scene and some of the film’s more poignant moments.

Roxie Theater members at a preview event in May 2021 before the cinema’s reopening.

Return of the Roxie: SF Nonprofit Cinema Cautiously Reopens

With vaccination rates on the rise and lockdown restrictions lifting, audiences are returning to indoor venues. For community cinemas like the Roxie Theater, reopening is emotional. The Roxie’s executive director Lex Sloan told “Civic” that limited seating for recent screenings sold out quickly, filling her with hope that cinephiles are eager to return in person.

White boxes are painted on a stretch of asphalt, with each box containing a tent.

Housing Elusive for Residents of Haight’s Sanctioned Campsite

The site in an old McDonald’s parking lot at the edge of Golden Gate Park opened in May 2020 with 40 spots, becoming the city’s second sanctioned tent camp.

On June 16 it shuts down. The question now is where to move site residents, many of whom have called the Haight neighborhood home for decades and don’t want to leave.

Organizing Around Hong Kong Democracy Protests From Afar

Demonstrators in Hong Kong have been demanding more democratic freedoms, as well as an inquiry into police use of force and the release of detained protesters. As millions have taken to the streets and participated in other actions, clashes between police and protesters have turned violent. Here in the Bay Area, people from Hong Kong have been paying close attention, organizing solidarity actions and strategizing about how to stay involved from afar.

City College Trustee: Deal Preventing Layoffs Only a Short-Term Fix

The Board of Trustees for City College of San Francisco on May 10 voted on a plan to reduce teacher pay instead of laying them off, a plan that members of the teachers union had also voted on and approved. But this is only a short-term fix to one of the college’s recurring financial problems, said Alan Wong, a member of the Board of Trustees.

Courtesy of Free Burma Action Committee.

S.F. Organizer Sees Repetition of Brutal History in Myanmar Military Coup

When Ko Ko Lay has managed to speak to his 86-year-old mother living in Myanmar under a military regime, she has told him she cannot sleep through the night. Like many civilians, she fears armed nighttime raids. “They are so worried about one day some security forces will come and will break through their door, and and they’re going to torture, and they’re going to kill,” Lay said. 

On Feb. 1, after a democratic election, Myanmar military forces seized control of the government and declared a year-long state of emergency. Civilians have been protesting that takeover, and the military has responded with deadly use of force, killing hundreds, including at least 40 children.

Installation at Yerba Buena Center Examines Mourning in a Time of Isolation

An installation at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts called “Mourning is an Act of Love” uses non-traditional forms of documentary film as well as poetry and photography, which visitors can view from the outside of the building, to explore concepts like memorials, grief and public space. Documentary filmmaker Susannah Smith, who curated the exhibit, and filmmaker and cinematographer Melinda James talked with “Civic” about mourning and connecting at a time when people are isolated by pandemic restrictions. Smith said there have been several deaths among her family and friends in recent years. “The main way that I dealt with it, that felt constructive, was really sharing stories and being with people and that kind of collective process,” she said. 

But the pandemic hindered mourners’ ability to gather. “The pandemic has shifted the ways that we are able to mourn the ways that we come together, collectively and as a community,” James said.

Paul Ocampo and Dax Valdes. Courtesy photos.

Training Offers Bystanders Tools to De-escalate Conflict

Bystanders to harassment, conflicts and even violent attacks sometimes find themselves at a loss for what to do, and refrain from getting involved. For victims, that can add insult to injury. In response to a wave of attacks against Asian Americans, two organizations have partnered to offer a bystander intervention training, which has been in very high demand.