Former Castro supervisor and aspiring San Francisco mayor Bevan Dufty may be standing on the shoulders of giants like Harvey Milk, but it’s nice to know that he hasn’t forgotten about his constituents’ day-to-day needs. Case in point: a campaign promise to bring more tops to the Castro.
Bevan worked for Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to be elected to Congress; and after a career that included a stint on the city’s Board of Supervisors, he’s now running to be San Francisco’s first openly gay mayor. (The first closeted mayor, we suspect, is 1912’s James Rolph. Just look at that adorable baby face!)
San Francisco has never had a shortage of delicious rumors about its local elected leaders, so we caught up with Bevan one afternoon as he was picking his daughter up from day care to find out if what people say is true. And as it turns out, it is:
QT: We heard a rumor that you once made a campaign pledge to do something about the top-to-bottom ratio in San Francisco. Is that true?
BEVAN: Well, you get unique experiences campaigning in every neighborhood in San Francisco, and certainly the Castro is no different. It was a softball Sunday, so to speak. It was after the games, and there were a lot of softball players at Moby Dick. And I was working through the crowd, and somebody stopped me and pointed a finger and said, “I am not voting for you for reelection unless you deliver more tops to the Castro.” Like most politicians, of course I closed the deal and said, “absolutely,” and moved on. And I would say for months and months Tony would give me a bad time and wag his finger at me when he would see me out and about on delivering his promise. But I can say, ultimately, obviously I did pretty well, because he’s in a very happy committed relationship. So I don’t know if I can take credit for it, but at least I have a happy voter.
QT: We once heard Steven Tierney (president of the SF Health Commission) say that when he met you, you were wearing a polka-dot dress.
BEVAN: It was in Provincetown, Carnival Week. And anyone who’s been to P-town for Carnival knows that one of the major events of the week is Drag Brunch. And so I was dressed in a black polka dot dress — and I looked a lot better than Rudy Giuliani ever looked in a dress. And I would say that that very dress appeared a year later in the Chronicle. And because I’m a Frontrunner, I’ve been in the LGBT running club Frontrunners since 1992, and every year we have something called the Little Black Dress Run that raised money for the historical society. So that dress is actually in the Chronicle, me running a three-mile run, and nobody seemed to care, so that’s the great thing about being in San Francisco. Hopefully I haven’t made any fashion faux pas, but Steven did in fact meet me at Drag Brunch in a sharp hat and a strapless polka-dot dress.
QT: You’re running for mayor of San Francisco now, which is probably a little bit different from running in the Castro. Do you feel like you have to change the way that you talk about gay issues or about sex?
BEVAN: Well, it’s the whole city. I think it’s a great opportunity for me to build bridges and hopefully build understanding… I think I’m pretty open about my life, and people tend to respond in kind. People were very open and share things with me with their lives and who they are. And I think that’s what San Francisco is–where we truly show our appreciation, connection to other people by being honest about ourselves. They’re going to get to experience me and the ups and downs and the mistakes I’ve made in my life, the foibles. And again I just come back to the fact that we live in a city where 20,000 gay men passed away through the AIDS epidemic. And so I really feel supported and comforted, not that I’m saying that everybody would vote for me, but I feel the presence of those people in my life. And so I hope to honor their memory and honor the greatness of our city just by being myself and seeing what people think.
QT: Great. Bevan Dufty, running for Mayor of San Francisco, thank you so much.
BEVAN: Visit BevanDufty.com!