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AN OPEN LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER:
Dear Readers & Advertisers,
I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy during this period. We have faced challenges before and we can only get through this ordeal together, not alone. On behalf of myself, the editorial staff, and the more than 50 contributors who bring the Bay Area Reporter to you in print and online every day, every week for nearly 50 years, THANK YOU for your support. That support is important as we contend with an unprecedented medical epidemic and an uncertain future.
From my first days as an assistant editor at the BAR in 1989, I witnessed past crises like the AIDS epidemic, the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the September 11, 2001 attacks, the 2008 financial crash, and the contraction of the newspaper industry, and yet, through hard work and dedication, the BAR managed to survive and has never missed publishing an issue -- and I don't intend to stop now if I can help it.
To this end, I have had to make difficult, heart-breaking decisions to lay off staff and decrease costs in response to a sudden drop in advertising and a rapidly changing situation. Distribution has been redirected to concentrate in neighborhoods. eBAR.com will publish more articles online. By keeping our operation leaner, we will attempt to weather this situation into the summer when hopefully there will be some clarity about the future. Unfortunately, we are in the same boat as the majority of small businesses and hoping to make it through to better days.
We are grateful for the support of those advertisers who have committed to continue their advertising during this period. Community newspapers depend on advertising to provide free distribution of print and online publications. Advertisers in the BAR are interested in reaching and supporting the LGBTQ community, and readers are interested in advertisers who value them. These advertisers support our community institutions and charities. Now I am appealing to you directly for your help to bridge the gap.
As a community media outlet, we take our mission to serve our community seriously, asking difficult questions of our politicians, our nonprofits, and our own leaders and institutions. We may not get an answer, but we are compelled by our professionalism to pose the questions in an attempt at transparency and disseminating information. But holding the powerful to account is not the only function we serve.
Over the decades, the BAR has been an advocate for our community, from the birth of the gay rights movement all the way to marriage equality and advocating for transgender rights. Our political coverage started when Harvey Milk was our first political columnist, before he was elected supervisor and replaced by longtime political watcher the late Wayne Friday. The BAR was the first LGBT community publication to unapologetically feature the leather community with a regular column by the legendary Marcus Hernandez (Mr. Marcus), and the first to publish obituaries with photos during the AIDS crisis.
Throughout the years, the BAR focused on stories that mainstream media did not consider important: like anti-gay discrimination in employment and housing; bias and fear of people with HIV/AIDS; victims of abuse and anti-gay violence; the plight of at-risk youth; and the unmet needs of LGBT elders. Our articles have given voice to the vulnerable and are a record of our history. But only with your help, can the BAR continue to play this unique role.
San Francisco will overcome this crisis. But what about our beloved Castro and LGBT community? What will it be like after this epidemic passes? We made it through the AIDS crisis by pulling together and that community spirit is necessary now. With the rise of anti-gay right-wing activists and authoritarian leaders, the need for a free LGBT press has never been greater, and with your help, the BAR is committed to serving our community and doing everything in our power to survive. That is why I am asking you to read the BAR regularly, visit eBAR.com, download our app, patronize our advertisers, but also make any contribution you can to help defray operating costs for the immediate future by visiting our INDIEGOGO fundraising campaign.
San Francisco is one of 11 US cities that is fortunate to have a legacy LGBT publication by us, for us, and about us. Help preserve the BAR as an historic and important community institution for the future.