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James Foster was born 19 November 1934. While living in San Francisco, he became one of the early leaders of the gay liberation movement in that city; in 1963 he helped found the Society for Individual Rights. Always active in Democratic Party local and national politics, in 1972 Foster founded the Alice B. Toklas Memorial Democratic Club (also known as the Alice B. Toklas Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club), which became particularly influential in local and national politics as the gay and lesbian constituency consolidated its power. In 1972, Foster was the first openly gay delegate to address a national convention. Professionally, Foster was a consultant dealing in fund raising issues; his business enterprise, James M. Foster and Associates, Inc., served primarily gay and human rights clients, including the Human Rights Campaign Fund. In the 1980s, Foster served as the San Francisco City Health Commissioner.