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    Donna’s Chronicles

    By Donna Sachet–

    Happy Pride to you!  Whether LGBTQ or anything in between, we have room for you in this wonderful, loving community and we anxiously await your participation in the myriad of activities, events and happenings that remain in Pride Month.

    Since our last column, we’ve been dashing from event to event, ever mindful that we are so fortunate to live in the middle of where so much of our history began. For example, Gilbert Baker was a local character who was prodded by Harvey Milk to create a flag that would represent the emerging Gay Community and so the now iconic rainbow flag was born. Last week at Bloomingdale’s, where huge original versions of that flag are on proud display in the atrium of the store, we led a casual panel discussion with two of Gilbert’s dearest friends, Dr. Jerome Goldstein & Tom Taylor, to mark the release of Rainbow Warrior: My Life in Color, compiled from extensive notes left by Gilbert regarding the history of the flag. It is a captivating account of inspiration, revelry and activism that everyone should read! We were truly amazed at the number of people who turned out for this Wednesday early evening event, including Kile Ozier, Don Spradlin, Patrick & Hossein Carney, Jeff Sheehy, Bruce Beaudette, John Lewis, Steve Adams and Joanie Juster. Perhaps that video invitation skillfully produced by Richard Gutierrez was the secret! The evening turned into a delightful sharing of personal stories and memories of Gilbert among friends and admirers, demonstrating once and for all that this man’s contributions will never be forgotten. In addition to providing a home for this event, displaying the rainbow flags, and opening a colorful Pride gift shop, Bloomingdale’s committed a percentage of all sales that day to our chosen beneficiary, the LGBT Community Center.

    That Friday, we returned to Lookout for the penultimate Disco Coalition Happy Hour, this time hosted by Pollo del Mar and Princess K of the Imperial Court, benefiting Castro Country Club, and saluting the legendary “Queero” José Sarria. The timing was perfect, since our José had been honored with a brief historical vignette that week on ABC television’s The View. The bar was bustling with members of the SF Gay Men’s Chorus, Imperial Court title-holders, and other assorted history buffs as Tito’s Handmade Vodka continued their commitment to match funds raised at these weekly events. We can’t wait to hear how much Lookout’s Disco Coalition raised over the past 13 weeks and to find out what this creative group is up to next!

    Leave it to Brian Kent to be the first to secure an event for our community at the recently opened Virgin Hotel! We joined hundreds of happy celebrants at the roof-top bar for an afternoon in the sun dancing to disco music mixed as no other than DJ Wayne G can. Splendid views, retro clothing and smiles all around made for a perfect T-dance, attended by BeBe Sweetbriar, Ira Olney & Troy Arnold, Simon Tam, Suzan Revah, Chris Hanner, Honey Mahogany, Philip Grasso and so many others whose faces are familiar from various dance floors across the years. Something tells us that there will be more to come from Virgin Hotel in San Francisco. And be sure to give a listen to Brian’s new single, which should probably be our motto for Pride Week … “Just Say Yes”!

    Broadway Bares: San Francisco Strips IV delivered its promised display of beautiful bodies, skilled choreography and whimsical story-line at DNA Lounge. This project of the Richmond/Ermet Aid Foundation builds on the success of the immensely popular Broadway event, showcasing local and international favorites as you rarely get to see them … and less. Performance Director Damien Beard, Production Director Emily Schreck and Artistic Director Leanne Borghesi made sure the event was Broadway caliber and celebrities Bruce Vilanch, Jai Rodriguez and Cassandra Cass added inimitable panache. Believe us, Cassandra’s entrance from the balcony to the stage will become the stuff of theatre legend! Half the fun, however, was seeing the enthusiastic participation of REAF Board members, supporters, and volunteers, whether gyrating on stage or giddily tipping from the audience. Even Andrew Christian was on site, having provided some essential wardrobe elements. It only happens once a year, so don’t miss the 2020 event!

    We try to share in this column our genuine appreciation for being included in so many historic events in San Francisco and we will never underestimate the privileges and opportunities this city offers us. But few things can compare to last weekend’s Queens concerts with the SF Gay Men’s Chorus. We were invited by the chorus that gave us our start in San Francisco to help them salute drag queens and all of those fierce anti-establishment figures who have steered the LGBTQ movement through years of struggle and success. We joined friends and fellow activists Heklina, Sister Roma, Sister Phyllis and Kylie Minono for three concerts of crowd-pleasing Gay anthems, inspirational music, touching remembrances and crazy on-stage antics. How can we ever forget standing center stage before hundreds of attentive supporters, sharing our personal reflections about the role of drag, singing “I Am What I Am” at the invitation of one of the most respected and accomplished Artistic Directors in the country, Dr. Tim Seelig, in front of over 200 singers of the iconic SF Gay Men’s Chorus, proudly introducing members of the Grand Ducal Council and Imperial Court to promenade across stage in recognition of their many contributions to our history? Really?  Yes, really. And then there was the concert! The chorus included one of the most luscious arrangements of Over the Rainbow we’ve ever heard, moving selections from Broadway shows, excellent soloists and small ensemble performances, a commissioned piece with startling lyrics, and enough “choralography” to make Bob Fosse weep. We are deeply grateful to those members of the Ducal and Imperial Families who took time out to participate and looked so marvelous doing so. If you missed this series, don’t let that happen again; buy your season tickets. And go to Closing Night of the Frameline Film Festival to see Gay Chorus Deep South, documenting the tour of several Southern states by the SF Gay Men’s Chorus in 2018.

    And finally, we joined the throngs to salute Mark Huestis at the Victoria Theatre, a special event during Frameline, that included clips from movies he’s produced as well as the many one-night galas with Hollywood icons he lured to the Castro Theatre. An emotional remembrance of Arturo Galster silenced the room. Several friends read from Mark’s recently released book Impresario of Castro Street, which he signed later at a reception at Manny’s. Among the crowd at the Victoria and Manny’s events were Mark Leno, Jennifer Kroot, Lawrence Helman & Bruce Balderson, Dan Nicoletta, Helen Shumaker, Bruce Vilanch, Adam Sandel and David Weissman. Mark Huestis seems to be living and loving a totally different life now in a country environment, but we shall never forget the many people he enabled us to meet and the kindnesses he frequently extended.

    We have conscientiously chosen not to extend our calendar of events beyond Sunday, even though we know the cycle of happenings never ends. We suggest, however, that we take a collective breath, reflect upon the tremendous variety of choices we have, and jump back into the social whirlwind in July. Take a moment to review photographs from your Pride experience and the friends with whom you shared it. Take a moment to recognize all of those who continue to fight to keep San Francisco and the LGBTQ Community thriving. And take a moment to resolve to become more involved yourself. Happy Pride!

    Donna Sachet is a celebrated performer, fundraiser, activist and philanthropist who has dedicated over two decades to the LGBTQ Community in San Francisco. Contact her at empsachet@gmail.com

     


    Calendar a/la Sachet

    Every Sunday
    Sunday’s a Drag!
    The Starlight Room
    Sir Francis Drake Hotel
    10:30 am Brunch, 11:30 am Show
    $75 inclusive
    https://starlightroomsf.com/sundays-a-drag

    Friday, June 28
    Trans March 2019
    11 am–8 pm
    Dolores Park
    Free!
    http://www.sfpride.org/

    Saturday, June 29
    Gary Virginia & Donna Sachet’s 21st Annual Pride Brunch
    Benefiting PRC, honoring Grand Marshals of Pride Parade
    Tito’s Handmade Vodka & Korbel sparkling wine
    Silent & live auction, Dixieland Dykes + 3, raffle, speaking program
    11 am–2 pm
    Westin St. Francis Hotel, Union Square
    $125 & up
    https://prcsf.org/

    Saturday, June 29
    27th Annual SF Dyke March
    Dolores Park
    11 am–6:30 pm
    Free!
    http://www.sfpride.org/

    Sunday, June 30
    San Francisco Pride Parade: Generations of Resistance!
    Market Street from Embarcadero to Civic Center
    10:30 am start time
    Free!
    http://www.sfpride.org/

    Sunday, June 30
    Frameline Film Festival Closing Night
    Gay Chorus Deep South
    Castro Theatre
    $35 & up
    https://www.frameline.org/