Care Line: (844) HOPE-4-SF | (844) 467-3473 | 8PM - 4AM PDT
      SF NIGHT MINISTRY
      LGBTQA+ OUTREACH

      Rekindling hope in the queer community since 1964

      Celebrating Our History of LGBTQA+ Outreach

      CASTRO CALLING

      Enjoy our Walgreens display at 18th & Castro in the non-profit window, thanks to OurTown SF. The display gives information about our nightly telephone Care Line.

      Every night between 8pm – 4am (PST), our volunteer phone counselors answer calls from all kinds of people. While many callers are people are lonely, distress, or in crisis, other callers simply want someone to listen to their day or connect around matters of the heart.

      Our telephone Care Line is open to everyone, and on any topic. We share this special service. Contact us if you are interested in becoming a trained volunteer and joining us in sacred listening.

      844-HOPE-4-SF

      844-467-3473

      OURTOWN SF

      CASTRO WALGREENS WINDOW

      LGBTQA+ HISTORY

      Since 1964, San Francisco Night Ministry has been a friend and ally to the LGBTQA+ community. Many of our own ministers and volunteers are part of the community. Here is a brief timeline of some key events.

      1964 - Bar Ministry

      Night Minister Don Stuart quickly befriends the LGBTQ Tavern Guild. Across the city in the safety of bars’ backrooms, queer bartenders refer queer underage youth & runaways to him for care & counseling, where he reassures them that they are loved & worthy.

      January 1st, 1965 - Historic Drag Ball

      Assistant Night Minister Chuck Lewis & Founding Care Line Coordinator Jo Chadwick support organizing for and attend the New Year’s Ball at California Hall through their work with the Council on Religion & the Homosexual. The first public drag ball in SF, the event is raided by police and leads to police reforms to protect San Francisco’s queer community. Illegal at the time to appear in drag, when the dance was raided, Jo Chadwick smuggles photographic evidence out the door under police eye by hiding film rolls in her bra!

      1970s - Lesbian History

      Phyllis Lyon & Del Martin, SF & national leaders for lesbian rights, continue their friendship & support of the SF Night Ministry.

      1980s - AIDS Ministry

      Night Minister Chuck Lewis visits Bay Area churches to preach inclusion of their gay & lesbian members. He reminds churches that they have gay members, many of whom are dying of AIDS. He confronts the church’s version of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” & leads churches to engage in hospice care. Rev. Lewis appears photographed in Bay Area newspapers taking an HIV test to destigmatize and normalize HIV testing.

      1990's - Continuing Witness

      The Night Minister Don Fox SF continues to officiate hundreds of memorials for those who have died of AIDS and whose families or communities will not claim their bodies. He also deepens the SF Night Ministry’s connection to the Imperial Court, giving the blessing at the annual Colma Pilgrimage to the Emperor Norton’s grave.

      2000s - Castro Presence

      Assistant Night Minister Diana Wheeler begins a dedicated LGBTQ+ ministry with a focus on the street of the Castro and accompaniment of the drag and Imperial Court communities. Later the ministry becomes Sacred Space.

      2010s - Securing the Legacy

      Night Minister Lyle Beckman, with the help of Don Fox, arranges for Jose Sarria’s funeral service to be held at Grace Cathedral, assuring that the Empress Norton, one SF’s most notable queer leaders receives the honor she’s due.

      Today - Building Hope

      The Night Ministry, through LGBTQ+ Outreach Director, John Brettt, recommits to service in the LGBTQ+ community, focusing on the most vulnerable amongst us. Emerging programs accompany EL/LA for Trans Latinas in the Mission and isolated LGBTQ+ seniors across the city.

      Castro Christmas

      LGBTQ+ Program Manager John Brett shares a recap of Christmas Eve: 

      It’s been nine years since I began to visit the Castro on Christmas Eve. Sometimes I have joined together with ministers and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence for midnight or 1 AM caroling after candlelight services. Sometimes the Night Ministry has held an early evening Christmas Eve Interfaith Service in the street, often with a meal and hot cocoa with a special welcome to our unhoused neighbors.

      For the last three years I’ve had the pleasure of carrying the leftover cookies from our street service (generously donated by Hot Cookie) into the bars to engage the merry bands of Christmas revelers in Castro’s gay bars, many of whom have been rejected by their families.

      This year, as Covid continues to threaten, we wondered what we might still do. We decided to continue to offer presence in the streets and to hand-out care packages with socks, warm cookies, and festive & practical sundries to our unhoused neighbors.

      Members of the Episcopal Church of Saint John the Evangelist, The Gubbio Project, and others donated to and prepared the care packages in the days leading up to the event. On Christmas Eve we added the cookies from Hot Cookie—a delight! We had so many donations that a second delegation of Sisters distributed packages along Polk Street, another historic queer corridor of San Francisco.

      We were blessed to share such abundance, connect with folks in the streets, and keep the Christmas Eve tradition of the San Francisco Night Ministry’s presence in the Castro alive—even in these times. Like many of those who participated, may that tradition shine, glittering, like the Christmas star for years to come.

      ✉︎

      Contact Us

      [email protected]

      Learn more or get involved. All are welcome!