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    In the News: 11.18.21

    By Joanie Juster–

    There’s something about autumn that lends itself to reflecting on the past. So this issue’s items are largely about history, remembrance, and, of course, ways you can get involved.

    National Park Service Honors José Sarria

    The U.S. Navy made history last week by launching and christening a ship named for the late gay rights leader Harvey Milk (who served in the Navy during the Korean War). Meanwhile, the National Park Service has quietly been making sure that the history they share is more inclusive by paying tribute to queer leaders. The latest in their series of articles devoted to telling diverse histories, “Telling All Americans’ Stories: LGBTQ People,” is a page devoted to José Sarria, activist, activist, drag performer, founder of the Imperial Court System, and the first openly gay candidate for public office in the United States. Thank you, NPS.

    Panel Discussion on Two-Spirit Identities

    In honor of both Native American Heritage Month and Transgender Awareness Week in November, the GLBT Historical Society is presenting a panel discussion on November 19 on Two-Spirit Identities: Language, Community & Tradition. This program brings together a panel of Two-Spirit people for a conversation about the rich complexity of Two-Spirit identity. Panelists will explore the various ways that Two-Spirit people construct their identities through tribal affiliation and LGBTQ terminology, including under the transgender umbrella. They’ll also consider how queerness in indigenous communities has been historically defined and understood, and how these traditions have been maintained or adapted in the present. Panelists include Sam Campbell, Faun Harjo, Amelia Vigil, and moderator J. Miko Thomas, better known as Landa Lakes.

    Transgender Day of Remembrance

    Transgender Day of Remembrance is observed internationally each year on November 20 to memorialize those who have been murdered because of transphobia, and to draw attention to the continued violence endured by transgender people. To commemorate this day, Bishop Megan Rohrer, the first openly transgender Bishop in a mainline Christian denomination, will lead worship at St. Francis Lutheran Church (152 Church St, SF) at 4 pm on Saturday, November 20. The service will include a candlelight vigil as the names of each of the 45 transgender people killed in the United State so far in 2021 are read. Members of the transgender community will be featured as speakers. The observance is sponsored by the St. Francis Lutheran Church Endowment. Bishop Megan is the first openly transgender Bishop in a mainline Christian denomination. They were elected and installed earlier this year as Bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), to lead 182 congregations in Northern California and Nevada.

    The community is invited to attend, but space is limited. Register by Nov. 17 at

    The event will also be livestreamed:

    Thanksgiving with Tenderloin Tessie

    Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and if you’re looking for a meaningful way to give back, nothing is more basic and profound than feeding people. For over 40 years, Tenderloin Tessie Holiday Dinners, an all-volunteer organization, has fed the community of San Francisco on Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, providing bountiful meals with a smile and a gift to all guests in a welcoming environment. Begun in 1974 by Perry Spink, a local performer/bartender with the drag name Tessie, an average of 1000 guests are now fed each holiday. Volunteers and donations are needed to continue this tradition, and to show the community that no matter who you are, there is someone who cares.

    Thanksgiving dinner will take place at the First Unitarian Church at the corner of Franklin Street and Geary Boulevard from 1–4 pm on Thursday, November 25. Everyone is welcome. To volunteer, email

    Annual Milk-Moscone Vigil in The Castro, November 27

    Those of us who were living in San Francisco 43 years ago will never forget the tragic day when Harvey Milk and George Moscone were assassinated on November 27, 1978. The city poured into the streets to mourn together, with a solemn candlelight march from the Castro to City Hall. Since then the community has come together every year to honor the memory of these leaders, and to recommit to working to fulfill their vision of a city that would welcome everyone, and provide justice for all.

    The Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club and the Castro LGBTQ Cultural District are hosting this year’s vigil, which will begin at Harvey Milk Plaza at 17th & Market Streets at 7 pm.

    World AIDS Day Events

    While the world is still in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must not forget that the AIDS pandemic is still with us, 40 years after the first official diagnosis. Founded in 1988, as the first-ever global health day, World AIDS Day takes place on December 1 each year as an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show support for those living with HIV, and commemorate those who have died. World AIDS Day is important because it reminds the public and government that HIV has not gone away—there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice, and improve education.

    Here are some of the events planned in San Francisco for World AIDS Day. Please note that some events are still in the planning stages, and details were not available at press time:

    INSCRIBE – Created by activist George Kelly, INSCRIBE is a community art and remembrance event held each World AIDS Day on the sidewalks of Castro Street between 17th & 19th Streets, from 9 am to 9 pm. It honors the millions of people who have died of AIDS globally, and pays special tribute to those who called The Castro home. Containers of chalk will be placed on the sidewalks on both sides of Castro Street; people are encouraged to write the names on the sidewalk.

    Rainbow World Fund Tree of Hope – Help decorate the Rainbow World Fund Tree of Hope, the largest origami holiday tree in the world, standing over 23 feet tall and decorated with over 17,000 origami cranes and stars, each hand-folded and inscribed with wishes for the future of the world. The tree is a symbol of global unity.

    National AIDS Memorial – The National AIDS Memorial is marking World AIDS Day with three different events. First, on the evening of November 30, is their annual fundraising gala, Light In the Grove

    Then, on December 1, the Memorial will deliver its annual World AIDS Day National Observance in a virtual forum focused on health and social justice, particularly among communities of color. Speakers will include Dr. Anthony Fauci, Sen. Rafael Warnock, faith leaders, HIV/AIDS activists, and more. Finally, the Grove will remain illuminated for the evening of World AIDS Day for a free public display of lights, and the reading of names. Beginning at 4:30 pm, the event will be livestreamed.

    Honoring our Experience at St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church – St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church, in partnership with Shanti’s Honoring Our Experience and the National AIDS Memorial, will present an evening of World AIDS Day events on December 1 from 5–9 pm, including a display of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, a community dinner, and their Revival! dance party. The Quilt will continue to be on display at St. John’s after World AIDS Day.

    More details to come at

    San Francisco AIDS Foundation (SFAF) Vigil -SFAF will hold their annual World AIDS Day Vigil on the steps of San Francisco City Hall at 6 pm on December 1. Check their Facebook page for more details to be announced.

    Volunteer Opportunities in the Age of COVID-19

    As the Bay Area starts opening up again, we want to hear about volunteer opportunities, including ones that can be performed remotely or safely. Contact me:

    Joanie Juster is a long-time community volunteer, activist, and ally.

    Published on November 18, 2021