This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.

GAY SAN DIEGO December 17-30, 2010

Finest City Squares swings its partners round and round

San Diego’s only gay square dance club finds acceptance

By Christy Scannell | GSD Reporter Back in 2003 Mike Neiheisel

wasn’t ready to come bursting out of the closet with bells and whistles—so he decided to slowly do-si-do his way out. “It was something in the (LGBT) community I could do,” he said of his decision to join Fin- est City Squares, a gay-friendly square dance club that meets in Balboa Park. “I felt accepted within the group immediately.” That camaraderie is what many of Finest City’s members say drew them to the group, which meets Wednesdays for dance classes and one Saturday a month for dance parties at the War Memorial Building. In fact, not all the members are

Finest City members are quick to point out that they don’t wear cos- tumes or petticoats to square dance. Some say that image is exactly what kept them from attending the classes at first.

gay, and that’s just fine with the participants. “It’s probably one of the most

diverse groups of people you’d ever meet,” Neiheisel said. “We have one common interest, and that is dancing.” Jim Dillon has been square dancing since 1976—he even met his wife at a dance in 1987. He said they joined Finest City Squares fully aware that most of the members are gay. “The people here are wonder-

ful,” he said during a recent class, as two squares did a promenade on the floor. “They are open and

receptive to straight people and it’s great exercise. We really enjoy dancing with them.” Regardless, Finest City’s roots

are in the LGBT community. The club was founded in 1989 at the now-defunct Sundance Saloon on University Avenue in Hillcrest. But what started as a “gimmick” to attract business soon became very popular, said Ken Valdez, Finest City’s president. “They had a caller, Ann Walk-

er. When the bar went out of busi- ness because of redevelopment and was torn down they started meeting in her garage. And that’s how the club really started,” he said. “Then the club grew until they were meeting in different bars and different locations— wherever they could dance.” Some members started at- tending the annual International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs convention, which moves from city to city each year. The San Diego delegation decided

see Squares, pg 24

NEWS HIV Funding Collaborative By Margie M. Palmer | GSD Reporter

The San Diego HIV Funding Collaborative award- ed $550,000 in grants to 15 local HIV/AIDS service orga- nizations this month—$65,000 more than the collaborative awarded last year. However, seven of last

year’s award recipients were denied a piece of the funding pie in 2010, while two other organizations received grants from the collaborative for the first time. Previous HIV Funding Collaborative recipients that did not receive money this year include: Comité Civico del Valle; Deaf Community Services of San Diego; Eunime; Operation Samahan; San Diego Foundation for Change; Special Delivery San Diego; and Uni- versity of California San Diego. Receiving collaborative money for the first time this year was San Diego Hospice and Family Health Centers of San Diego’s Clear Meth Initiative. In the current economic cli-

mate, some are questioning why more money has been allocated to fewer recipients—from 20 in 2010 to 15 in 2011. The San Diego Human Dignity Founda- tion (SDHDF), which oversees the San Diego HIV Funding Col- laborative grant program, said a very clear, intentional commu- nity process was followed. Still, Special Delivery founder and Executive Direc- tor Ruth Henricks said she was “surprised, shocked and devas- tated that they did not receive grant funding.” The organization, operated

entirely by volunteer staff, has been a beneficiary of grant

awards more than $550,000 Changes leave some former grant recipients behind

(top) Ruth Henricks, executive director of Special Delivery; (above) Tony Freeman, execu- tive director of the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation.

funding from the HIV Funding Collaborative since 1999. While previous grant awards have ranged from $5,000 to $25,000, this year, Special Delivery asked for $40,000. They re- ceived none.

“This doesn’t affect me; it

affects the people living with AIDS in the San Diego com- munity,” Henricks said, stating that 97 percent of each dol- lar given to Special Delivery directly benefits their clients. “This impacts what we will able to afford to continue to do for our clients. We (serve) home delivered meals, have a pantry and frozen meal program; we have community food distribution and we have a lot of programs going on which have benefited from funding from the HIV Funding Col- laborative. This grant wasn’t requested to pay salaries or save employees.”

Henricks questioned how

Special Delivery’s grant writer, who has secured hundreds of thousands of dollars for the nonprofit since 2003, could have penned a grant that did not make the cut.

“I can’t believe they couldn’t even squeak out $1,000 for us,” she said.

Human Dignity Founda-

Certified Nutritional Counselors 1050 University Ave. #101 (Next to Ralphs) Hours: M-F: 9-8 S: 9-7 Sun: 11-6

Great Earth Vitamins (619) 293-7630

Bring in this coupon for a FREE one week’s supply of our best multi-vitamin. Not redeemable for cash. Not valid with discounted items. Cannot be combined with any other offer. One per customer. 2 weeks only! December 17th thru December 31st, 2010. Excludes N.S.P, sale items, sports drinks and bars.

20% OFF Entire Purchase!

tion Executive Director Tony Freeman dismissed allegations that the collaborative adopted a new, unfair grant-grading processes, maintaining that all of the funding priorities were outlined clearly in the Request for Proposal (RFP).

“The HIV Funding Collab-

orative consistently has many more applications and requests for funding than we have mon- ey,” Freeman said. “ We gener-

see HIV, pg 24

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32