He’s as San Francisco as they come, in that he’s a one man melting pot. An East Coast transplant, Dufty’s spent most of his professional life under the mentorship of or close to minorities — Shirley Chisholm, Julian Dixon, Mayor Willie Brown and Susan Leal. Not only is he openly gay, but he very publicly had a child with a lesbian friend — they co-parent the child and plan to live together before the 3-year-old girl starts school. Dufty can often be seen out in Castro night clubs (though not as often now that he’s a parent) and counts most of the celebrity drag queens in town as his friends.
Dufty’s dramatic and celebrity-filled roots add to his San Francisco image — his mother escaped Nazi Europe and landed in New York. There she befriended Billie Holliday, who later became Dufty’s godmother. Dufty’s childhood voice is found on a recording where the immortal Holliday joshes Dufty about his red underpants. (I found the recording!)
Dufty’s father co-wrote “Lady Sings the Blues” and helped adapt the screenplay for the movie starring Diana Ross. In later years, Dufty Senior married Gloria Swanson and after she died, had a romantic relationship with a man for about 20 years until his death. It would be difficult to make up such a dramatic and historic background but in Dufty’s case, it’s all real.
Right now, we have ourselves a mayor who’s straight, tall, good looking and aiming for the White House. Even the alcoholism and womanizing seems textbook politician, doesn’t it?
Bevan Dufty presents the polar opposite of Newsom in terms of persona and demeanor. Dufty said his job is to bring some solidarity to the citizens of San Francisco, who, in his mind, don’t have a huge variety in political ideology and need someone like him to bring them to consensus in order to make decisions for the good of the city.
Right after we turned the camera off, he said to me, “Oh, I know people call me Namby Pamby.” But he doesn’t care, he said, because he knows he can be a unifying, calming force for our fair city. Only time will tell.