Sunday, May 11, 2014

Castro's Now Voyager Travel Agency to be Evicted on June 16 

The casualties in San Francisco rampant and avaricious gentrification continues to grow. I'm not opposed to change and even if I were, there's not much to be done to stop it but what I'm against is the obscene lack of smart-growth planning that doesn't displace the working class and poor.

(A tribute to Jonathan Klein in the window of the soon-to-be-gone business on 18th Street. Credit: Peter Greene.)

My friend Peter Greene emailed me this week with the sad news that his longtime travel agency based in the Castro district will be evicted in a few short weeks.

(Peter at the travel agency last year. Credit: Bryan Goebel, KQED.)

You may recall that Peter, who is a long-term AIDS survivor, was featured in a depressing KQED story last October about the displacement of gay men living with HIV from the Castro and other parts of the city. Peter in his email said:

The Now Voyager travel agency, a 30 years iconic LGBT and straight friendly business in the Castro, has been given a 60 day eviction notice that arrived on April 15, and the clock's been ticking down since. The commercial space we're now in is to be repossessed on June 16.   

We were not even given a market value lease option. Yes, it's scary but nobody seems safe in this frenzied gold rush happening all over the city.   

I'm still reeling from the suicide of the previous owner of my good friend and beloved community activist Jonathan Klein a year ago.

I'm at the helm of the agency and determined to keep the vision alive that Jonathan and I started over three decades ago.  

I was barely 30 years old when we started Now Voyager and it's important for me to thank all the many wonderful people who have passed through the doors of the office on 18th and Eureka Streets, and I hope for their continued support in whatever place or form the business reemerges as after the eviction. 

I am also very committed to help change the laws that fuel the horrible epidemic of San Francisco evictions impacting too many people who are poor, disabled and elderly.

Once word spread last year about Jonathan jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge and ending his life, his survivors including Peter, who shared this image with me, and companion Tom Orr created a memorial for him at Castro and 18th Streets. The "Eviction = Death" sign generated much-needed community conversation about the housing changes taking place and Jonathan's suicide became an opportunity for long-term AIDS survivors and all members of the LGBT communities to discuss our mental health challenges.

Let's wish Peter all the best as he faces the impending eviction of Now Voyager.

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