Fighting HIV for my Community


Growing up in San Francisco, HIV/AIDS made a lasting impact on my life as a gay black man. I grew up in an era long before PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, an effective treatment-as-prevention option for men who have sex with men.). I grew up in the era of Pedro Zamora and movies like Philadelphia. This era was horrifying and left me with many doubts about my life expectancy as a gay black man. As a closeted 14-year-old, my view of being a gay man in San Francisco was colored with visions of death and illness. An entire generation of gay men in major cities like San Francisco and New York were dead or dying.

img_1457The United States government and our political leadership at the time did nothing to even acknowledge, let alone address, the epidemic. Officials initially coined the disease “Gay Related Immune Disease” or GRID, and the world left us to die. I grew up assuming my life would end like that of the generation that came before me — outcast and without support.

As I grew up, I attended my first San Francisco Pride after being kicked out of the family house. I saw what our community was really like: resilient and strong despite overwhelming oppression, which gave rise to generations of LGBT activists and allies. As it became apparent that activism runs deep in my blood, my first efforts were to fight the spread of HIV by educating and organizing the African-American community so that they know that someone who looked like them cared.10858564_327264910798791_8104533255945633381_n

Over the last many years, I became an African-American face in the fight against HIV/AIDS because there were no such examples in my youth. I stand in support of my brothers and sisters because HIV/AIDS is still a major issue in communities of color (African American and Latino) which have HIV acquisition and transmission rates that higher than other ethnic communities. I work actively to educate and bring resources into our communities to do my part to end this disease.

I am proud of nearly a decade of service in various capacities through San Francisco AIDS Foundation as a veteran AIDS/LifeCycle rider, Seismic Challenge rider, Surf City AIDS Ride rider and spokesperson with the Center for Disease Control through their program Testing Makes Us Stronger. I am happy to promote the work of Bridge HIV, Strut, Magnet, and many other local organizations that support our community in preventing the spread of and treating this disease. I look forward to the day when we have a cure, when none of us live in fear or stigma, and when none of us lack access to resources such as PrEP.

Why we need to break down the exclusivity of the Democratic Party.

To create a Democratic Party that feels inclusive, new representatives in our leadership must illustrate that they understand the consequences of our party politics, policies and resolutions on the most vulnerable people in our society. For the democratic party to truly be the “party of the people” we must also stop expecting to receive support from the minority communities that we don’t often engage with simply because we believe we may be the safer option when it comes time to vote.

Several prominent attendees at the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ annual retreat concluded that “the Democratic Party has a race problem”. I can draw from my own experiences, on this note, as recently as our San Francisco Assembly District Delegate elections. Our local party leaders and those hoping to become elected to the state party as Delegates organized slates. From my perspective and after several disappointing conversations, I see problems around issues in political vision, race, class, and privilege. These issues were not fun to discuss but are vital to overcoming the deeply seeded issues. If we are to become more inclusive and achieve true party unity we must take steps to address them head-on.

As a gay, African American with Native American and Haitian ancestor and Muslim heritage represented throughout my family. I have become very vocal on these issues as they present themselves in how our party operates. My ethnic and sexual identities are not my politics. My history of overcoming hardship which includes repeated displacement from jobs through workplace discrimination and displacement from my housing through the related economic instability and subsequent homelessness at various points in my life. These are the issues that I seek to impact and improve upon for others. My political vision of change is rooted in those hardships.

My advocacy is toward creating solutions to the same issues that have impacted my life, but for everyone in our community. Using my personal experience as a platform to this end allows me to give a voice to many people. I will use these positions to impact party policy in a way that would illustrate great empathy. This voice and my perspective influence people who share my experiences to become active in civic engagement and more importantly those who have never had to persevere through such problems to better understand the issues.

What lead to a Donald Trump presidency and the rise of the Republican Party and its deplorable values, vision, and character is symbolic of a deeper issue in our society. The “us against them”, “divide to conquer” mentality has led to ugly divisiveness in our country and Democrat-on-Democrat acts of physical violence — yes I have seen Democrats physically assault other Democrats. We are losing the war because our party leadership lacks a strong emphasis on the value of inclusivity and has become exclusive to only those who can afford to buy their way into the system or those who will compromise their values and “play along to get along”. Sadly, if you don’t have a seat at the table, you are usually on the menu.

The leadership structures of our party are out of reach to the new “average citizen.” Democrats of every flavor are earning a negative reputation of exclusivity and are often criticized for ignoring the needs and concerns of the most vulnerable in our communities by these same constituencies. This is because our vulnerable community can’t pay to play in the same ways that our political machinery has grown to operate.

The presidential election should be a wake-up call to us all. With our Presidential Election, tragically, illustrated that our country will not follow a Democratic leadership that isn’t directly engaging the communities and offering solutions to the problems of the 99%. Simultaneously, democratic leaders expected the growing number of people who are experiencing very hard times in this country to support our party endorsed candidates simply because they call themselves a Democrat (progressive or moderate).

The number of people who are vulnerable in terms of economics — housing security, job security etc. yet voted for Trump regardless of how the Republican Party agenda conflicts with our fundamental need to have a government that is responsive to the people to create accessible opportunities that support for all its citizens. This is indicative of the systemic issues inherent in a toxically exclusive Democratic Party.

U.S. citizens are losing faith in Democrats to be the “party of the people.” Voters that are registering as independent are surging in step with growing voter apathy and complacency is increasing at a startling pace. The exclusivity of our party has been driving us in this direction for far too long, resulting in the absurdity that is the Trump presidency. While we have been fighting among ourselves (the Bernie and Hillary divide), we took our eyes off the prize — which is growing unity and building our party’s strength in numbers in key constituencies.

As we gear up for the 2018 midterms and subsequent battles for control of our nation’s leadership, few of our future candidates seem to truly represent the experience of our people that are living with extreme hardship. Our party will continue to crumble if Democrats do not represent and engage the very people upon which this country runs — minorities, immigrants, and our youth. Those demographics that we often socially marginalize and that are often negatively economically impacted historically report feeling ignored by our party leadership. They are often never afforded a seat at the table without untenable self-compromise. Then what happens?

I became motivated to seek seats at different levels of our Democratic Party leadership because I feel that an important perspective is missing: the experiences of the foundation of our community which includes the suppressed, the impoverished, the homeless and the imprisoned. All of these groups also include different minority ethnicities. As a combined collective, they comprise the fastest growing segment of our society. Yet, as Democrats, we repeatedly fail to adequately engage and address the concerns of these people, until their central issues become so inescapable, economically privileged classes begin to agonize over the inconveniences that interrupt their pleasures — for instances homelessness and the idea that minorities are taking away jobs and opportunity from white men and women. That’s the ultimate slap in the face that drives people away from our party.

When and where it counts, we know that major decisions that affect our lives are being made by a chosen few who by comparison often enjoy very privileged life experiences. The growing majority — the voices, experiences, and lives of the impacted and marginalized simply don’t seem to matter as much in a society that prioritizes economics. We learned that a growing majority of our country may not have cared to vote because they believe our system isn’t built to include them. This is why large numbers of African Americans, Latinos, and other historically marginalized ethnic minority groups tend to opt out, especially those who are also locked into low-income communities.

Our systems are indeed built around individuals with economic privilege, access, and favoritism. The pattern of disillusionment because of the inequity that this causes repeats and it’s growing larger with each generation. While the issues and concerns of the wealthy and influential continue to be given preferential treatment by political elites, everyone else is literally left out in the cold.

If we hope to achieve victory it must be won through the inclusivity of our party. I believe that Democrats must focus on grooming representatives that aren’t a reflection of the same disparate social classes and economic elitism that has become so prevalent in our society. We must accept the hardest lesson of the 2016 presidential election: we cannot afford to continue to be so exclusive that our party suffocates.

If we want to grow our party, we must evolve to include and value less-privileged life experiences in our party leadership. These representatives will be better suited to help our us refocus our outreach efforts. These representatives will also be able to engage deeper into neglected communities because they know what neglect feels like and how it damages our communities.

This will result in a government that is appropriately responsive to the needs and expectations or our civilization. If we can accomplish this objective of becoming a party that is inclusive of these experiences in our leadership, people in our society will feel less abandoned because they will finally see someone that has walked in their footsteps. This kind of representative will better understand the barriers to active participation in civic engagement by people from communities that know hardship. This kind of representation can will have a great ability to break down the systems that exclude valuable people and their experiences.

The investments of the previous generations to protect, defend, and provide opportunities for our future are being dismantled. We must defend the defenseless, disregarded, and marginalized from the harm that Trump and his agenda seek to cause. We must also be prepared to counteract the negative impacts that bad Democratic policy will have on our society.

To create equity and stand for justice our party should switch gears and support leadership that is multicultural and capable of empathizing and understanding the experiences of the impoverished and communities of color that are negatively impacted by public policy that make it difficult to overcome issues such as poverty, homelessness, and gentrification. To represent the people in any official or elected capacity, your very presence must engender this ability to inspire the great masses of disenchanted citizens. This will be the true revolution of the people.

Believe we can connect on issues important to San Franciscans?

Let’s work together.

To become involved in making a difference.


Like you, I’m fighting for a better future, for my family, the community and for the health of our human society.  Together, I have fought with you for justice and progress in matters of; social justice, human rights, civil rights, open government, public health and safety, homeless services, worker rights and workforce development, community heritage, and preservation.

Follow me online on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn @HainesForSF

Exerpts from Real Talk: What Now? Mobilizing over the next 4 years,

aada3-1ubmhf1nfk_ybjmc8yc7osaSan Francisco community comes out in force to talk about Trump & how to be an activist — San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

“Shaun Haines, a multicultural Black and Native American panelist with Muslim heritage, also cited an increased worry about personal safety and racially-motivated crime and discrimination. “I know in the Haight there were signs representing the KKK. Walking around as an African American man, it’s a challenge.”

“Haines said that he does yoga and energy work like chanting. He also emphasized the importance of more personal contact, like hugging.”

“When I hug and kiss you, it’s because I need that love,” he said.

“Be kind to yourself and forgive yourself,” Siever said. “If you don’t forgive yourself, you’ll burn out.”

“Direct person-to-person contact is how you will change hearts and minds,” said Haines

Strut panel talks healing during Trump era

Published 01/26/2017

by David-Elijah Nahmod

Shaun has overcome great adversities such as homelessness at age 19. As an African American Gay man, Shaun fights for all San Franciscans but especially those who feel locked out of the system rejected and marginalized.

Believe we can connect on issues important to San Franciscans?

Let’s work together.

To become involved in making a difference.


Like you, I’m fighting for a better future, for my family, the community and for the health of our human society.  Together, I have fought with you for justice and progress in matters of; social justice, human rights, civil rights, open government, public health and safety, homeless services, worker rights and workforce development, community heritage, and preservation.

Follow me online on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn @HainesForSF

Social Justice, Police Accountability, and Community Patrols

I have had the privilege and honor to engaged students of the Juvenile Justice Center and San Francisco Police Academy Cadets as well as serve on our an advisory committee to the Police Cheif and various police accountability groups.




“Activist Shaun Haines, a gay man who’s founder and president of SF Black Community Matters, asked the panel how the city was responding to the increased activity by the Ku Klux Klan, including distribution of literature and motorcyclists “with hoodies and hats” riding through the Western Addition, carrying flags with swastikas.

Full Story: Police offer tips to report hate crimes

Published 01/12/2017

by Sari Staver Bay Area Reporter

I accepted an appointment the San Francisco Police Departments Chief’s LGBT Advisory Forum — A voluntary forum comprised of unpaid community leaders, organizers, and volunteers who provide a vital liaison between the city-wide LGBT community and the Chief of the San Francisco Police Department.



We’re working to inspire greater community involvement in public safety for our LGBT community and beyond. We’re going to start recruiting. We need Trans-identified, women, and gender non conforming folk and more community leaders of color to help us get the job done. Will you join us? 


Permanent Member of the San Francisco Police Department Chief’s LGBT Advisory Forum


cuffed “Far too often people of Color and LGBT communities suffer indignities while a majority of people, who aren’t a part of traditional minority groups, often enjoy a privilege of respect and often given a free pass that is counter-intuitive to the deliverance of true and unprejudiced justice. Our civil liberties, rights, freedoms and indeed our very lives should be not be trivialized or jeopardize by our justice system which is why I seek to create a better balance in these systems so that they become diverse, inclusive and

I have experienced my own brush with local law enforcement. The experience left me feeling dehumanized, angry and has made me reluctant to fully trust a system that is purposed to “Protect and Serve” because they have far too often done quite the polar opposite.”

Full Story: Injustice: Protect and Serve

by Shaun Haines

Like many of my friends, I am disturbed by the events in Ferguson. The situation of police harassment, abuse, brutality and unjustified manslaughter in this country is rampant and needs to end.

Additional articles:

Running for Democratic Party Leadership

San Francisco Democratic Central County Committee

By Shaun Haines

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (12/15)- Shaun Haines, has pulled papers to seek one of the 17th Assembly District DCCC seats. A native San Franciscan who is African American, Haines in May was appointed to serve on the San Francisco Sunshine Ordinance Task Force and also sits on the LGBT advisory committee to the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, Assemblyman David Chiu ‘s African American Advisory Committee & LGBT Advisory Committee. The race, now held during presidential election years, has traditionally drawn a long list of candidates, including of late a number of sitting supervisors. Apart from wielding influence in local politics, a DCCC seat can also be a launching pad for those interested in running for political office themselves one day.

Shaun Haines is also involved in, Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition — BRC as a Project Manager at, is a Board Member on the Communications Committee of the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, and events coordinator and fundraiser for the Military American Legion / “ OneVet OneVoice”, was a contributing writer at the SF Bay Times Newspaper, is currently the Secretary at the District 5 Democratic Club, is an Executive Board Member of the Willie B. Kennedy Democratic Club, is the Recording Secretary of SF Black Leadership Forum.

I am historical photo documentarian of San Francisco — Photographer of SHH ITS ME! Professional Photography, HIV Activist CDC HIV Awareness Campaign Testing Makes Us Stronger and Aids Life/Cycle Participating $20,000 Team “Thank You”

When asked why he was running, Haines noted his interest in serving on the DCCC stems from his wanting to help diversify the Democratic Party and the city’s elected leadership. “It is something I have been trying to take a close look at… I want to use my personal experience to work on addressing that problem.”

Writing about the direction of the city, Haines has stated, “The city I love, and the people that make San Francisco a place to leave one’s heart, are going away. Where are we headed? Some of us, a prevailing minority, are “moving on up” and replacing the rest, a diminishing majority who are headed “down and out.” I’ve heard this problem labeled as an “affordability crisis.” Over the years, I have observed a jagged prosperity. This growth is rapidly reshaping our city, society, culture, politics and economy. My only hope is that this prosperity becomes more evenhandedly managed.

In the last several years, I have observed cyclical waves of the exodus. At this time, I am observing my third, and perhaps most devastating, wave. These waves are eroding our city’s foundational culture, heritage, and spirit. I have watched our loved ones being washed out by the imbalances present in our city’s evolution. Through this tidal action, deposited on our shores, are a lot of new people from all over the U.S. and abroad.

It is apparent to me, and many old long-term residents, that the latest waves of people that are coming to San Francisco are not doing so for the same reasons as many of those who arrived during the last several decades. Most of the latter were seeking acceptance, opportunity and a place to build a home. They wished to engage in a common culture and to connect with our accepting community. Now, there is little loyalty to, or preservation of, these important characteristics. Our differences are leading to clashes over policy and limited resources.

Furthermore, “The streets tell this story, for those willing to listen. Stenciled on the pavement in black ink is “5%”. This indicates the population of Blacks estimated to reside in the city. Also stenciled are words like “clusterf**k.” I feel that these, and other such statements, underscore the overwhelming consensus that we are in a predicament that will not be resolved easily. The streets are filled with many such references for those willing to take a moment to see, and to understand, what is happening in our world. Sadly, everybody is working so hard that few have time for community, art, local culture, or to become actively engaged in our common fight for survival.

The job and housing markets are oversaturated, as are our social service systems. The cost of living and minimum wage are light-years apart. There are more exclusionary roadblocks to opportunity and prosperity than there are programs and incentives to ensure equality and a nondiscriminatory playing field.

As I reflect upon my own experiences and interact with other residents, the general sentiment is that even while the city prospers, many things are becoming worse than ever before. The situation, in my option, is unsustainable. I find that we are all on the razor’s edge. I am uncertain of which side of the widening divide I will land. I’m facing the same hardships and misfortunes that are affecting countless others. I am hoping that we will work together to find the solutions to these problems….”

My name is Shaun Haines.

After years of organizing to bring awareness to important issues that impact all San Franciscans. It was time for me to take a bold step forward. I was born and raised in the great city and county of San Francisco. My community roots are deep within this city, so I fully understand San Francisco’s Democratic values. Our shared values include building strong families, providing a good education, creating new opportunities, and working to maintain and grow our city’s diversity.

My top priorities include:

  • Restoring the Black Community
  • Affordable Housing / Homelessness
  • Quality Education
  • Accountable Public Safety

For the past 10 years, I have dedicated myself to positively affecting our community in various positions of civic engagement and leadership. I have learned the importance of working collaboratively with diverse groups on key issues affecting San Franciscans:

• Government Transparency

• HIV Awareness and Education

• Human and Civil Rights

• Veteran’s Advocacy

San Francisco is booming!

According to city planners, by 2040 San Francisco will need nearly 200,000 new jobs created and 100,000 more housing units. Therefore, San Francisco will need leaders who are prepared to address smart growth with practical and consensus-building approaches.

Best Regards, — Shaun Haines

Former Candidate for San Francisco Democratic Central Committee (Dist. 17)

Please join sign up for my mailing list so that together we can build a brighter future for all San Franciscans as we enter the next exciting chapter of San Francisco history!

Thank You!

Endorsements: Bay View Times

DCCC candidate Shaun Haines

Political Notebook: Race to oversee SF Democratic Party draws out candidates

In addition to the out incumbents planning to run, so far one gay candidate, Shaun Haines, has already pulled papers to seek one of the 17th Assembly District DCCC seats. A native San Franciscan who is African American, Haines in May was appointed to serve on the San Francisco Sunshine Ordinance Task Force and also sits on the LGBT advisory committee to the city’s Human Rights Commission.

Haines told the Bay Area Reporter his interest in serving on the DCCC stems from his wanting to help diversify the Democratic Party and the city’s elected leadership.

“It is something I have been trying to take a close look at,” said Haines, 37, an Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club member who serves on its board. “I want to use my personal experience to work on addressing that problem.”

DCCC candidate Shaun Haines
Photo: Haines for DCCC campaign

LGBT newcomers seek SF Dem Party posts

“For me, I noticed when I got politically active the lack of African-American male representation in elected officials in San Francisco,” noted Shaun Haines, 37, a gay black man who grew up in San Francisco, living in more than a dozen of the city’s neighborhoods.

“I think a lot of people are remarkably unaware of what the DCCC does,” said Haines.

A member of the city’s Sunshine Ordinance Task Force, Haines is currently out of work and has instead focused on his DCCC bid. He has highlighted his sexual orientation and race as he has campaigned for the seat, and at times has had to defend his doing so.

“I believe that serving the community on the DCCC as a gay black would bring more awareness to a great many issues,” Haines recently wrote on his Facebook page. “I feel that an elected black male perspective is needed in our local Democratic Party leadership to address issues that impact everyone.”

Published 06/02/2016

by Matthew S. Bajko


Full Story: Election Slates Wield Powerful Influence

Zoe Dunning

“One of the downsides of the slate strategy is that those who are not “insiders,” or are not on a slate, have a tremendous disadvantage. The sixteen DCCC candidates not on either the Progress or Reform slates have to really hustle. One candidate I have tremendous respect for is Shaun Haines, who did not end up on either slate but is working it every day. I see him actively seeking Democratic Club endorsements, doing visibility at transit stops, and getting his name and his story out there on social media. These candidates have to rely more on the Democratic Clubs to endorse them and include them in their club slates and mailers. In Shaun’s case, being highlighted on the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club slate will help him tremendously.”