Clinic celebrates Pride with colorful rainbow beads for patients in Castro district

"This is about me showing my love."

Love, shown in the form of colorful beads, is how Debbie Graves celebrates Pride. 

At Sutter Health Castro Primary Care in San Francisco, Graves is a patient services representative, who has been spreading joy at the facility since 1988.

The patient advocate said Pride month is her favorite time of the year. 

"It doesn’t matter who you are, if you walk in, I’m going to say take a look at this and see if you want one," said Graves. 

She said it’s about bringing people together. "Straight, gay, whatever color, whatever religion, they understand the meaning of community."

For Graves, the beads are a physical memento for how she wants her patients to feel: safe and included. They each have different charms, and of course, the rainbow.

The Pride beads signify something special in this community. The clinic is in the heart of the Castro district, which was no stranger to the hardships of the HIV crisis in the '80s.

"This is ground zero for HIV, and it was really through our treatment and our care for HIV positive patients that I think it really brought gay rights to the forefront," said internal medicine physician Dr. Louis Cubba.

"It was a terrible time," said patient David Strachan. "I’ve known close to 300 people that have died."

Strachan was diagnosed with HIV in 1986. 

"I went on disability in '94, thinking I wasn’t going to live long enough to get to my 50th birthday and next month I’ll be 77," he said.

LGBTQ+ patients have often been stigmatized and ostracized, made to feel unsafe in a health care setting, but the beads highlight what San Francisco is all about.

"There should be no shame in health care, no matter what’s wrong with you," Graves said.

"I’ve known lots of people over the years who were HIV positive who have moved here because the care is excellent in San Francisco," said Strachan.

Graves said she’s going to keep making the jewelry, celebrating pride with patients in San Francisco all month long.

"Some just want to take many for their family members, and I tell them, take as much as you need, cause I won’t stop making them until pride is done," she said with a smile.


Largest pink triangle yet installed in San Francisco in honor of Pride Month

Hundreds of volunteers installed a giant pink triangle atop Twin Peaks early Saturday. San Francisco is the only city in the world to have such a massive symbol hovering over it. It will remain visible through the end of pride month.