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    Donna’s Chronicles, “The highest civic or military order of merit…”

    By Donna Sachet–

    The highest civic or military order of merit the nation of France can present to any individual is the Legion of Honor, created by Napoleon Bonaparte and formally awarded for hundreds of years since. A glance at the recent list of honorees gives one a sense of how distinct and important this recognition truly is; it includes Barbra Streisand, Paul McCartney, Robert Redford, Martin Scorsese, George Shultz, Danielle Steel, and now, Tom Horn. Our friendship with Tom dates back to the late Bob Ross, Founder of the Bay Area Reporter, well-known philanthropist, San Francisco Emperor, and business partner and friend of Tom. Over those years, we have benefited from his counsel, explored his political opinions, enjoyed his conversation, and appreciated his generosity. To be invited to attend his Legion of Honor ceremony, however, was a tremendous privilege and to attend a private brunch on Sunday, July 18, was extraordinary.

    As loyal readers of this column and our other writings over the years will attest, we rarely include private parties out of respect for the host and guests, but when one is invited to the legendary penthouse of San Francisco’s Chief of Protocol Charlotte Shultz, we simply must share some of the particulars. We invited our dear friend Michael Loftis to accompany us and in his dashing care, we could not go wrong. Times being what they are and this being a rather tony guest list, we were met at the valet parking with COVID precautions, but soon after, the elevator whisked us up to what can only be described as a palatial penthouse in the sky with 360-degree views of the city we have come to love. Our hostess was relaxed and amiable, perfectly at ease with the variety of guests, handpicked by Tom for the occasion, and quickly put everyone at ease with her warm hospitality and disarming humor. Décor for the event honored the French in color and theme with costumed characters, including the Statue of Liberty, and a lively musical ensemble. Gladys Perint Palmer created a special design for the occasion pairing a sketch of Tom with an image of the Legion of Honor medal. We moved smoothly from rooms filled with eclectic artwork to wrap-around outdoor decks and from a beautiful graphic tribute to her late husband George Shultz to casually arranged seating for a brief program and brunch, which featured caviar, omelets, quiche, salmon, salads, pastries, and more. Not knowing who to expect to see there, we were delighted to visit with Tom’s partner Cesar Alexander, Yan Liu, Gina Moscone, Jonathan Moscone, Darryl Carbonaro, Matthew Goudeau, Tony Bravo, and Mayors Willie Brown and London Breed and to meet French Ambassador to the United States Phillipe Etienne and Ambassador of Monaco to the United States Maguy Maccario Doyle. The honored guest who surprised most everyone wasa long-time friend of the hostess, Henry Kissinger, who spoke of the deep friendship and alliance between the United States and France. With our last sip of Bellini, we bid our friends adieu, reflecting on what a place it is in which we live and what a treat to share a glimpse of such a rare visit with the community we love to represent.

    The following day was the formal presentation of the French Legion of Honor at The Green Room of the War Memorial Building in Civic Center. The symbolism of returning to The Green Room after its extended closing due to the pandemic was not wasted on anyone. The formal room, freshly renovated and providing soaring ceilings and sweeping views of City Hall, was festooned in the Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge of the French national flag. Guests were greeted at the door by Tom Horn and Frederic Jung, Consul General of France to San Francisco. Speakers included San Francisco Chief of Protocol Charlotte Shultz, French Ambassador Philippe Etienne, Mayor London Breed, and Lieutenant Governor of California Eleni Kounalakis. We chatted with Mark Rhoades, Joshua Morgan, Paul Pelosi, Kaushik & Stacy Roy, Tom & Lacey Donley, Paul Melbostad, Victor & Farah Makras, Vera Carpeneti, and Jessica Cole. The formal ceremony is really something to witness, steeped in over 200 years of tradition, including the national anthems of France and the United States, and filled with personal praise for the honoree. Tom Horn’s acceptance remarks were delivered in both beautiful French and English, a true testimony to his love of French culture. Champagne and other libations, gorgeously prepared hors d’oeuvres, and an instrumental trio from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music completed the evening. As guests made their farewells, we were not the only one clinging to the lovely printed program and a couple of souvenir napkins bearing Tom’s likeness!

    Divas & Drinks, the collaborative event between The Academy and the San Francisco Bay Times continued last Friday with Go for Gold, themed to tie in with the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Multiple screens showed the Opening Ceremonies while guests were immersed in Japanese culture—including origami demonstrations; representatives from Omusubi, a Japanese Lesbian affiliation group; Bacardi specialty drinks; and a buffet of sushi samplings. Once again, we held a rousing competition on the patio, this time between Team Olivia and Team Gay Softball League with silly games and even sillier results. Adding immensely to the evening was a local participant in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, Barbra Higgins; her Olympic stories had the house roaring with laughter. Among the crowd were Ken Henderson & Joe Seiler (soon to announce the upcoming schedule of in-person Richmond/Ermet Aid Foundation events!), Jeff Cotter, Gary Virginia, Stuart Gaffney & John Lewis, Dr. Marcy Adelman, Recology’s Minna Tao, Mary Sager & Michelle Jester, Kokak Chocolates’ Carol Gancia, and Jimmy Consos, fresh from the recent Planning Commission approval of Grubstake Diner’s construction plans. We surprised the SF Bay Times’ own Jennifer Viegas with a birthday cake presented by Juan Davila. Watch here for future Divas & Drinks events where you’ll comfortably mix with good friends while making new ones.

    We rounded out the weekend by welcoming back to San Francisco for a brief visit from their new home in Palm Springs one of the most beloved couples of the Imperial Family of San Francisco, Keith & Gladys Bumps! Empress Misty Blue hosted a packed celebration at Lookout and friends poured out the love. The Reigning Emperor David Glamamore & Reigning Empress Juanita MORE! joined Emperors Terrill Grimes Munro, Leandro Gonzales, John Weber, Steven Dorsey, John Carrillo and Empresses Patty McGroin, Baby Shaques-Munro, Khmera Rouge, Mercedez Munro, Alexis Miranda, Renita Valdez, Galilea, Cockatielia, Marlena, Pushy Phyllis, and many others for a raucous party, clearly certifying that Lookout is back and ready to host you and your events!

    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

    Thursday, August 12
    Catching Up with Susan Stryker
    Queer Culture Club monthly series       
    Online interview by Terry Beswick
    7 pm
    Free, $5 suggested donation
    www.glbthistory.org

    Sunday, August 15
    Vanessa Bousay Presents: Nightingale
    70s tribute to Carole King & Karen Carpenter
    Tom Shaw on piano, Roberta Blake percussion
    Guest vocalist Steven Satyricon
    SF Oasis, 298 11th Street
    7 pm
    $25
    www.eventbrite.com

    Published on July 29, 2021