More Juanita!

Why I’m hoping Mark Leno will be San Francisco’s first openly gay mayor

Juanita MORE! and Mark Leno
Juanita MORE! is a denizen of the limelight. For two and a half decades, the tireless hostess has blitzed San Francisco with high glamour, drag irreverence, danceable beats, culinary delectables and a philanthropic heart that has illuminated the entire city.

This is the first of her “More Juanita” columns for Queerty.

If I’m walking down the aisle at the grocery store and the packaging on an item says ‘new’ I usually buy it. I like to try things, especially something new, at least once. On the other hand, if I’m going to get my nails done, I go to someone that is really good at doing nails. If I want a dress made, I only go to Mr. David – who has been acknowledged and applauded for his dressmaking skills for over 30 years. If I want a bouffant, I go to the person that makes the best and biggest bouffants.

So, I’m a pretty practical person in most parts of my life.

This is the dictionary’s definition of experience:


practical contact with and observation of facts or events

I know that there are tons of people with little or no experience doing some really amazing things out there. One example is this baby queen that jumped on stage recently and let us have it! Her lip-sync was than on point. Every gesture she made suggested a well thought out performance right down to the curl in her pointed finger. We also have a person with no experience running our entire country who continues to hire people for very important positions with little or no experience. We are now a little over a year into his presidency and his base is still saying he will get on his feet. That baby queen was on her feet from the moment her pumps hit the stage.

The upcoming election is an important one for San Francisco. I have actively participated in making this city great even though at times it feels like such a struggle to stay here. I’ve lost many friends to other cities after evictions from their apartments and places they’ve called home. I’ve seen blood on the faces of those bashed just for being who they are. I’ve stood up for my LGBTQ family to make sure we are all treated equally. Best of all, I enjoy my walks around the neighborhood with one of our cities queer seniors.

Related: Juanita More on how to get invited to her nude dinner parties: Send me naked selfies!

Mark Leno and I sit down regularly for lunch and have a one-on-one chat to catch-up on all things San Francisco. I have great respect for him and greatly appreciate that he wants to hear what I have to say about our city. In early 2015, we had one of our lunchtime meet-ups and before I went into my rants I asked him if he was going to run for mayor against Ed Lee later that year. He admitted he was thinking about it and with just that I gave him my full endorsement. In the end, he decided not to run that year but filed the paperwork for the race in 2016. To date, Mark Leno has twenty years of experience between here in San Francisco and Sacramento.

So I decided to take a deeper look at his LGBT record – you know, because I’m a queer San Franciscan fighting to keep it still queer! This is a short list of some of the 57 local and state bills and acts put into place by Mark Leno that effects LGBTQ people in our city and state to this day.

  1. In 2004 he proclaimed June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. Oh, sorry you thought that just automatically happened, didn’t you?
  2. Mark has helped to protect our LGBT elders by ensuring services are available regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Out of all the elder communities in San Francisco, our LGBT seniors are the least organized. Many have no family, their friends have passed away and they most likely live alone with fear of embarrassment to reach out for any help. I thank Mark for not forgetting about them – and I do that as I wag my finger at you. Don’t pass one of our elders without saying hello.
  3. Every year on May 22nd the anniversary of Harvey Milk’s birth, the state formally recognizes the special significance of all of Harvey’s pioneering civil rights efforts. Acknowledging our history plays such an important role in moving forward with our future. Our city has been considered a gay mecca. I’m starting to question that and appreciate Mark’s efforts to keep our rich queer history alive.
  4. Mark’s historic legislation in 2003, to protect transgender Californians from discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations is probable for me one of my proudest moments of his. There isn’t another group in our community that I admire more for their honesty and bravery.
  5. As many of you know housing in San Francisco has always been one of my biggest concerns. Mark has always been a leader in championing the rights of tenants. Not only did he basically invent our affordable housing program in San Francisco, which leaders are still building on today, in 2003 he also exempted single room occupancy units from falling under the Ellis Act. Those rooms are filled with some of our most vulnerable tenants.

Remember, this is a short list of 57 local and state bills and acts put into place by Mark Leno that specifically impacts LGBTQ people in our city and state to this day. Over the last ten years, our city has basically been for sale. The people that helped to sell it are currently involved in trying to buy this election. The direction of our city’s next ten years relies on our next mayor.

So yeah, I do believe that experience is most important and that Mark Leno has what it takes to lead San Francisco in a new direction.