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    Sister Dana sez, “So far, DarnOld Trump has undone over 100 positive rules good for the nation that were initiated by President Obama. So, this is Making America Great Again?? As if!”

    By Sister Dana Van Iquity–

    Sister Dana sez, “So far, DarnOld Trump has undone over 100 positive rules good for the nation that were initiated by President Obama. So, this is Making America Great Again?? As if!”

    On the eve of WORLD AIDS DAY, “LIGHT IN THE GROVE” brought together nearly 600 people in support of the NATIONAL AIDS MEMORIAL mission. During the event, much of the Grove’s ten acres was illuminated in white lights

    and candles to honor the sense of loss and to celebrate the spirit of light and life. We guests experienced a candlelight vigil at the Circle of Friends. I had the great privilege of sitting and chatting with philanthropists and hosts Al Baum and Robert Holgate. The evening included special musical and artistic performances in the grove and later inside and onstage with Stefanie Keys and her band. Keys said she loved her gay dad who had passed from AIDS years ago. Former State Senator Mark Leno received the “Lifetime of Commitment” award for his decades of unwavering philanthropy, activism, and leadership in support of HIV/AIDS, LGBT communities, and civil liberties. Longtime activist and Board Chair Mike Shriver presented the award to Leno. The Senator remarked, “We need to pick up our banner and continue the fight,” because “AIDS is far from over.” He noted the Creator had said let there be light, and joked, “What is it about gay men and light?”

    Grove Co-chairs Lance Henderson and Jane L. Breyer spoke of the important mission of the national memorial, which is all volunteer and donor supported. Regional Vice President Jean-Marc Halbout of Quest Diagnosis (KnowAboutHIV.com) noted that one in seven have HIV but have not been tested or are aware of their status. Executive Director John Cunningham talked about the Grove’s importance. The National AIDS Memorial Grove was created more than twenty-five years ago in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic as a place where those impacted by AIDS could both grieve and begin the process of healing.  In 1996, legislation sponsored by U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi was signed into law by President Bill Clinton that elevated the Grove as this nation’s sole federally-designated National AIDS Memorial. He said nearly three decades into the epidemic, more than 70 million people around the world have been infected with the HIV virus with 35 million people having died from HIV and AIDS-related causes. While much progress has been made in preventing and treating HIV, 36 million people are currently living with the virus. New advancements in diagnostics, treatments, and medicine are helping nearly 20 million people live with the disease. In the United States alone, 1.1 million people are currently living with HIV, with the number of new cases having dropped by nearly 20% since 2008.

    The next day, officially WORLD AIDS DAY around the planet, more than 1,300 Grove supporters, community leaders and dignitaries, gathered under the tent in the Grove, including President Bill Clinton, World AIDS Day keynote speaker (recalling the dark days when HIV was a death sentence, and how far we have come since those times). Others attending included Mayor Ed Lee, State Senator Scott Weiner, Assemblymember David Chiu, Treasurer Jose Cisneros, Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, John Cunningham, Mike ShriverJean-Marc HalboutDavid McMurry, honoree, retired Global Public Health Manager at Chevron, Ruth Coker Burks, honoree, known as the “Cemetery Angel,” and Pedro Zamora Scholarship recipients/students.

    STRUT is winding down its second year of providing programs and services to our communities, including their community events, Magnet sexual health clinic, substance use programming, and community programming. As their last monthly art exhibition for the year, “PHYSIQUE AND FANTASY” was the title of the Exhibit and Opening Reception for the art of Oscar Gallegos Zamora, now on display at STRUT at 470 Castro Street. At the reception, Community Organizer Baruch Porras-Hernandez introduced the man of the hour, Zamora, properly decked out in gold sequinned plunging neckline micro-mini-dress. He said he originally started out with cigar box frames, but eventually graduated into much larger box frames. His collage series explores the complicated history of gay media and the great artwork that can be created when the male gaze is combined with a love for kitsch, camp, and queer aesthetics. His artwork plays with the concepts of masculinity and femininity while exploring his complicated love/hate relationship with both. His pieces look at sexuality as something that can and should be fun, silly, and fabulous. Let me tell you—it was difficult to pick my faves this time, because they are all so terrific, but I will say that my favorite was “The Saint,” appealing to the nun in me as the saintly subject had many arrows piercing his rope-bound body, but surrounding him were comforting angels, butterflies, and doves. Appealing to my show biz brain was “Fame & Fortune,” depicting an old-time male vaudevillian dancer wearing nothing but fishnets, a top hat, and cane—as the curtain opens for a dazzling performance. My third choice is “Bad Boy,” because it’s a hot, young biker guy looking bad to the bone, and yet surrounded by pansies and butterflies—so how bad can he really be? Sister Dana sez, “Don’t miss these fantabulous art pieces—here to enjoy all month long. strutsf.org

    Some of us Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence went out carolling for charity in the Castro. We sang both sacred and profane carols—but mostly tunes with modernized, partly sexualized, definitely politicized lyrics as “protest songs for a better world and for the people in changing times.” For example, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Trump” (a Grinch parody), “Deck the Drag Queens,” and “Little Leather Boy,” (a sexier version of “Little Drummer Boy”). But I didn’t care so much for “Sister Dana Got Run Over by a Reindeer.”

    THE SISTERS OF PERPETUAL INDULGENCE are thrilled to support 22 organizations changing hearts and lives in their communities. We distributed grants to the following charities: we love punks and we love lunch, and Punks with Lunch provides food and harm reduction to people experiencing homelessness. Rainbow Street is a Jordanian-American NGO working with local activists to provide essential resources for LGBT people in the Middle East and North Africa. The Third Muslim promotes the work of emerging and established artists, whose work investigates the intersections of Islam and queer and/or transgender experience as political, spiritual and/or ideological identities. Palace of Trash members are alumni of that pornographic pestilence known as the Thrillpeddlers of Hypnodrome, and inheritors of the Cockettes tradition that helped spawn, among other tawdry children, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Bad Business Model Bikes restores bicycles and gives them away to folks who need them. The Oakland-based Black Teachers Project (BTP) fosters equitable schools for students of color by supporting, sustaining, and training Black teachers. The Renegade Library is a pop-up LGBT library that brings a library experience to queer neighborhoods in Houston, Texas. Also, these foundations received grants: Human Rights Pen Pals, Healing Waters Wilderness Adventures, Lavender Library and Cultural Exchange, Perfectly Queer, Purple Heart Anglers, Night Ministry, Trans and Queer Land Project of West Virginia, OLAS/LGTB Sanctuary Project, Left Coast Theater Company, D-SINE/Backstitch Studio, Alpha Gamma Sigma at City College of San Francisco, Recycled AIDS Medicine Program, Howard Grayson LGBT Elder Life Conference, and Detour Dance.

    Sister Dana sez, “Jack Frost is nipping at your nose, so come indoors where it’s warm and enjoy these upcoming holiday events.”

    SAN FRANCISCO GAY MEN’S CHORUS presentsELFSTRAVAGANZA: MAKING THE NORTH POLE GAY AGAINon December 8 & 9 at Nourse Theater, 275 Hayes Street. Elfstravaganza delivers exactly what you expect from SFGMC at the holidays: gorgeous music, jubilant production pieces, and heartwarming moments. You’ll hear plenty of classic holiday favorites, alongside some new works that are sure to warm your heart and get you in the festive mood. Over-the-top production numbers will be mixed with stunning, tender moments—all done up with SFGMC’s trademark flair. Additionally, the Chorus is joined by the dazzling drag superstar Katya Smirnoff-Skyy for these performances. sfgmc.org

    ARTSAVESLIVES December 8 show is at the studio/performance space at 518 Castro Street, 6–8:30 pm, free with refreshments and entertainment galore. It will be hosted by artist in residence Thomasina DeMaio. Approximately 20 artists’ works will be on display there through December, but if you come there on December 8, you’ll get to meet some of the artists in person.

    Each year, the SAN FRANCISCO LESBIAN/GAY FREEDOM BAND selects a theme to blend with Tchaikovsky’s classic “Nutcracker Suite.” The result: DANCE-ALONG NUTCRACKER, a fun-filled musical production brimming with wit, artistry, and ingenuity. The talented cast sings and dances their way through a parody version of the Nutcracker. And when the “Dance-Along” sign flashes, the audience is invited to dance. Saturday, December 9 & 10, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum, 701 Mission Street. DanceAlongNutcracker.org

    CONGREGATION SHA’AR ZAHAV at 290 Dolores Street is leading the lighting tradition. Please join them for this centuries’ old tradition on the second night of Hanukkah. There will be live music and dancing, games, a giant dreidel to spin, sufganiyot for all (traditional jelly donuts), and a festive time to be had by everyone. Plus, a giant menorah will be lit! Bring your own menorah to light, too. Thanks to Rabbi Mychal Copeland, Cantor Sharon Bernstein, and everyone at Congregation Sha’ar Zahav for leading the event.


    Sister Dana sez, “Funny thing that back when I was in civics class and learned how a bill becomes a law, there was no mention of Republican Congressmen keeping the bill secret from the Democratic Congressmen and the public. Funny thing? Funny business!”