On the evening of Monday, December 16, Frank Goldberg—a long-time activist in Buffalo’s LGBT community who recently moved to Portland, Oregon—went missing. She’d come home to visit friends and family for the holidays.
Since her disappearance, friends and family, joined by the community she’d served as an activist (and eventually by law enforcement), have mounted a continuing search for Goldberg—pamphleting, walking neighborhoods, reaching out on social media. There has been little in the way of leads.
Artvoice contributor Sarah Bishop spoke with Frank’s sister, Harmony Goldberg, earlier this week, to get an update on those efforts. There will be a gathering for Frank this evening (Friday, December 27, 7-9pm) at the Unitarian Universalist Church
(695 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo), too.
Bishop: Let’s start from the beginning. Tell us about when and how Frank went missing.
Goldberg: A number of people have asked for a clearer narrative of what happened the night that Frank disappeared. Frank moved to Portland in late August, and she had returned to Buffalo for a holiday visit. It was a hard-re-entry for her emotionally, and Frank was in a very difficult place personally on Monday night. To our knowledge, she left our brother’s house on the West Side of Buffalo of her volition and without telling anyone. She left a vague note in the apartment. She took her wallet, but she did not take her phone. She was last seen at 5:30pm, and we discovered she was missing around 9pm. We do not believe that Frank was a victim of a hate crime, and we do not think it is likely that there was any kind of foul play. Even though we know Frank to be a survivor and fighter, we are deeply concerned for her safety. We thought she would return home, but—since she hasn’t—we are calling on the community to help find her.
Bishop: What has already been done, and what is being done now?
Goldberg: Frank’s friends and family have engaged in an exhaustive search effort to find Frank. We filed a missing persons report from the police quickly, and we have been calling area hospitals, psychiatric and rehab facilities, and other service institutions since she went missing. She has not used her bank card since she went missing, and there have been no changes made to her itinerary. We have contacted all of her known social networks—in Buffalo, upstate New York, New York City, and Portland—both through social media and through direct communication. We have tried to blanket social media with missing persons notices, messages and videos in order to help find her. Last weekend, we conducted foot searches of the West Side and of Allentown, posting “Missing” flyers in local businesses. After a week of community mobilization and media coverage, two detectives from the Buffalo Police Department looked into the case, and we got a verbal commitment that the police would review the footage from surveillance cameras in the area where she disappeared. The family hired a private investigator on Monday, who will be coordinating his efforts with the police department in order to figure out what happened to our sister.
Bishop: How can the community get involved?
Goldberg: Over the last ten days since Frank disappeared, the search has been driven by community support. It has been deeply moving for Frank’s friends and family to see the outpouring of love and energy from so many different communities. The LGBT community has been the most active, but people who knew Frank growing up, people who had encountered Frank in her work as a service provider and countless strangers have shown up to look for her, sent beautiful messages of support, given us generous donations and helped us to keep breathing and hoping.
At this point, much of the practical work of the search effort is shifting into more professional hands, but we still need the community’s active support and love. You can follow the situation on our Facebook page, “Help Find Frank Goldberg.” We need everyone to keep their eyes open for Frank, and to call us if you see her. Please call both the Buffalo Police Department and our grassroots search effort at 716-863-6906. We are also building a list of volunteers in different neighborhoods who are willing to follow up immediately on sightings, so please let us know (either on our Facebook page or at that same number) if you’d be willing to support us in this way. We will be asking for donations to fund the private investigation soon. We would love for you to come to our community event on Friday evening (details below). And we would deeply appreciate it if you would keep Frank, our family and her community in your throughts and prayers.
Bishop: What else would you like us to know?
Goldberg: We want you to know about Frank as a person. Frank is a loving and strong person, and she is valued deeply by the people in her life. She is both gruff and gentle. She loves taking care of animals, especially cats. She is incredibly caring and sweet, able to hold the hard and rough edges of life with a tender and gentle hand. Frank is proudly gender-queer. She has a masculine gender presentation, but she intentionally and explicitly chooses to use the pronoun “she.” I always say that she is one of the bravest people that I know. She has struggled with many profound challenges in her life, and every time she has summoned the courage to overcome and to keep moving forward.
She has been an activist and an advocate in the LGBT community for many years, helping to build a transgender support group at Buffalo’s Pride Center, which has been a valuable space of support and community for dozens of people. She also has a long history of providing support and services for people with addictions and with harm reduction work in particular. Besides her formal role as an activist, Frank was a community-builder, making shy people feel welcome and warmly embracing people who often felt like they were on the outside. And she took care of people. During the search efforts, several people told me things like, “I’m here because—if I were missing—Frank would be leading the search effort to find me.”
Bishop: There will be a gathering for Frank tonight, Friday, December 27. What should the community expect?
Goldberg: We are profoundly grateful for the outpouring of love and support from community members who are dedicated to finding Frank and bringing her home safely. As the search effort shifts into a different stage, we wanted to bring the amazing community that has come together in this search effort together to thank you and to talk about next step moving forward. The details of the event: