Monday, July 11, 2011

Magnet Anniversary: Eight Years of Medicine and Culture in the Castro

Most of the Magnet staff made an appearance at the eighth-year anniversary party on July 9 at their beautifully designed space. On Magnet's inauguration day, Mayor Willie Brown exclaimed that it “looks like the W Hotel!” The design is a combination of blue and a shade of green not favored by many outside of art schools, with clear and colored plastic panels. The ceiling panels appear like they will fly out onto the street momentarily.

Steve Gibson, Magnet’s director, spoke about the clinic before it opened, and as he gathered support its importance became known when community activists realized that the San Francisco LGBT Community Center would not be hosting men and women’s health clinics. The Los Angeles and New York City centers provide HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, and other health services for people who would rather be at an LGBT center to receive those services. Those centers receive millions of dollars for those clinics, and millions more for youth services.

Initially conceived as the health place for 1,500 clients, now Magnet sees more than 9,500 clients yearly. There are special flu shot opportunities, and considering the city’s charges for Hepatitis A and B shots, Magnet is the preferred location for those all-important injections. STD and HIV/AIDS testing and treatment is the clinic’s main function, and its most noticed difference from other clinics is the friendly staff and volunteers. Many of the clients are agitated and distraught about a sudden change in their health, and the Magnet greeters and treaters are able to provide an educational and calming experience. An array of young men and more seasoned gay and bisexual men are sprawled daily on modern seating, and the tension level rises and subsides with the glances and the music.

There is a monthly art or photography display, and on the evening of each month’s first Friday there is an opening party that draws a varied audience of sometimes intense locals and also friends of the presenter.

Cupcakes from Luna Bakery, a mother-and-son business, were served instead of the traditional anniversary cake, and Steve Gibson’s eloquent comments about the future for the health center drew the attention of San Francisco Human Rights Commissioner Mark Kelleher and psychiatrist and sex therapist David Ortmann and three dozen other guests.

No comments: