From a Football Star in Michigan to Dead on the Streets of San Francisco

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Perry Foster's entry in the Michigan High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame directory.

Stay caught up with the best of KQED's reporting each week by subscribing to the Q'ed Up podcast.

It has been a long, sad week. Here are some stories you might've missed.

1. There's always more to the story

Perry Foster lived in early 2016 on Division Street between Harrison and Bryant streets. He was from Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was still a legend among high school classmates as the football star who led his team to an undefeated season and a state championship. Foster died on April 11, 2018.
Perry Foster lived in early 2016 on Division Street between Harrison and Bryant streets. He was from Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was still a legend among high school classmates as the football star who led his team to an undefeated season and a state championship. Foster died on April 11, 2018. (Dan Brekke/KQED)

When KQED's Dan Brekke first met Perry Foster, Foster was living in a tent on San Francisco's Division Street. His clothes caught Brekke's eye, and his thoughtfulness and frankness about his situation impressed him.

Two years after that fleeting meeting, Brekke learned that Foster had died on the streets. This is also when he learned that the frank, thoughtful homeless man he talked to for 30 minutes in 2016 had once been a star football player in Michigan.

Brekke ended up talking to friends and family who knew Foster when he led his high school football team in Grand Rapids to a state championship and starred for two seasons at Eastern Michigan. He learned that he struggled academically and ended up leaving school after two years — making stops in Atlanta, Chicago and Southern California before ending up in San Francisco in 2008.

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He learned that Foster was gay, a fact which created distance between Foster and his father. He learned that in his 10 years in San Francisco, Foster was arrested several times, jailed, shot, stabbed, placed into transitional housing in Tenderloin hotels at least twice, evicted, beaten and hospitalized repeatedly.

And he heard the love and admiration that people had for Foster — people who knew him as the star football player and people who knew him as a frank and thoughtful homeless man.

Foster's story is one of many KQED told this week as part of the SF Homeless Project, a media collaboration focused on housing affordability, and I highly recommend reading and listening to the others.

2. Living the queer California Dream

Felicia A. Elizondo at a hotel in Chicago in 1969.
Felicia A. Elizondo at a hotel in Chicago in 1969. (Courtesy of Felicia A. Elizondo)

Along with being an opportunity to party and celebrate our queerness, Pride Month, which just wrapped up, is also an important time to remember the people who struggled to create a more welcoming and accepting world for LGBTQ people.

Felicia A. Elizondo, aka Felicia Flames, is one of those people. She came to San Francisco's Tenderloin in the early 1960s, when it was the center of the city's gay scene. As she puts it:

We were jotos, sissies, queens, queers, lesbians, male hustlers, female impersonators, intersex. We were lost souls trying to understand what future was in store for us. We were out when being queer was against the law.

Moving to San Francisco allowed Felicia to find her true self as a transgender woman, and she is part of the generation who helped pave the way for today's LGBTQ community.

3. 'This is the real border'

Looking through the metal fence from the U.S. side into Tecate, Mexico on June 28, 2018, before sunrise. The metal fence does not divide the U.S. and Mexico all the way, barbed wire is used as well.
Looking through the metal fence from the U.S. side into Tecate, Mexico on June 28, 2018, before sunrise. The metal fence does not divide the U.S. and Mexico all the way, barbed wire is used as well. (Ariana Drehsler)

All week long, several KQED reporters have been down at the California-Mexico border, reporting on the ongoing family separation and detention situation that has infuriated many in the state.

They've talked to people trying to cross the border, and they've talked to officials about how they're enforcing the administration's policies.

And for one night, they explored the border the same way so many people do: late at night, under the cover of darkness, with little knowledge of where they were going or what they would find. It's truly powerful reporting.

4. Who's ready to vote on some statewide ballot measures?!

There will be 12 statewide measures on Californians' November ballots.
There will be 12 statewide measures on Californians' November ballots. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

With four months to go before Election Day, California voters now know what statewide propositions they'll be voting on this November.

There are measures to raise funds for housing and homelessness, as well as to roll back limits on rent control. Voters will also get to decide if California should be split into three different states, if the state should observe daylight saving time year-round and if a 2017 gas tax should be repealed.

Measures on lead paint cleanup, local taxes and internet privacy won't be on the ballot, following last-minute negotiations in Sacramento.

5. Is rent control working and should we have more or less of it?

The Painted Ladies in San Francisco.
The Painted Ladies in San Francisco. (soomness/flickr)

One of those statewide measures appearing on the November ballot could remove limits on rent control that have been around for decades. But would that actually help solve the state's affordable housing crisis?

I'm going to be honest — I did not fully understand what rent control even was until this week's Bay Curious broke it down for me. It's a complex issue that doesn't have a clear right or wrong answer, which makes this explainer a great place to start your research.