Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Jonathan Klein Dead of Suicide, Castro PWA Faced Eviction


My friend Jonathan Klein is dead of suicide. I got to know, and argue with him , when we united in the late 1990s to mount an effort to end San Francisco's ban on gay bathhouses. Jonathan was a gay man living with AIDS who operated a community-beloved travel agency, enjoyed a healthy and vibrant sex life, always had a smile for me, and was just all-round sweetie.

Dear Jonathan, rest in peace knowing you fought many good fights with integrity and humor.

Here are the limited facts I have at this point from my friend Dean Oullette who is with the newly revived ACT UP/San Francisco chapter:

I suppose you have heard about the suicide of Jonathan Klein, the owner of Now, Voyager, who with his partner Peter was facing eviction from his building. Last night the Castro beat cop was standing guard over the memorial at 18th and Castro. I don't know why, though later a friend and I put up an 'Eviction = Death' poster and I noticed shards of glass and a candle, so something happened.

Audrey Joseph, a club promoter from forever ago, is saying the suicide is not linked to the eviction. I don't know why someone would try to disconnect the dots unless there is some money/real estate connection. the company that orchestrated the sale, Aria Realty, has space in the Now,Voyager building and was conducting business and plans- let's call it what it is, celebrating- with the new owners right in front of the people about to be evicted.

I asked a distraught Peter Greene if he would like to get involved with the ACT UP action, as our theme is Housing = Healthcare, and he is thinking about it.

4 comments:

Kim Sherburne said...

Michael,

I worked with Jonathan for nearly 20 years at Now Voyager. In 2008, the economy took a downturn, and Jonathan faced having to make significant cuts. Although he didn't want to, Jonathan was forced to lay off the last remaining full-time employee... me, and he did so with grace and kindness. Jonathan was one of the most generous people I've ever known. I have an enormous amount of respect for him, and what he has given to the LGBT community for 30 years. Jonathan felt that travel was the best part of living, and was so happy to be providing that gift to his beloved clients and friends. He always talked about owning a travel agency as "giving the gift of travel".

Jonathan and his business partner, Peter, were/are facing eviction due to new owner "take-over" (my words). As a person living with AIDS, Jonathan deserved to have protection from such displacement; he fought but did not win that battle. And now Peter, who is distraught over the loss of his long-time friend, will also be evicted at the end of this month. San Francisco has to do more to protect PWAs and others who deserve protection from eviction. Although I no longer live in San Francisco, I am ashamed that this is how our longest Castro merchants, our friends, our gay heroes are treated. SF must do better!

Michael Petrelis said...

Kim,

Please accept my condolences over the loss of your friend and boss Jonathan. He was such a good man! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me.

Stephen R. Stapleton, Sacramento, CA said...

I write in shock over the news of the death of Jonathan Klein. I did not know Jonathan well, but got to know him on the Queen Mary 2 a few years ago.

I recommend anyone who needs help contact Friends for Survival (wwwFriendsForSurvival). They are the nations oldest support group for those who lost a family member or loved one to suicide.

Heidi Starkman said...

I am shocked about reading this. I worked at Now Voyager Travel in the early 1980's for Johnathan anad Peter. They were the nicest people anyone could have worked for. They gave me a second chance!!
Bless you sweet Jonathan.
Heidi Starkman