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    Sister Dana sez, “Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!”

    By Sister Dana Van Iquity–

    Sister Dana sez, “Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! Or as I like to call it: ‘ThanksGaying,’ because I am Thankful to be Gay. TGIG: Thank God I’m Gay!”

    To kick off TRANSGENDER AWARENESS MONTH, on November 1, Mayor London Breed, Senator Scott Wiener, Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, the Office of Transgender Initiatives, and the trans community and alllies celebrated successes and committed to combating the prejudice, discrimination, and violence that affect the transgender community. They gave inspiring speeches and raised the official transgender flag at City Hall.

    A new exhibition at the GLBT Historical Society Museum uses textiles, costumes, photographs, and ephemera to paint a complex portrait of San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker (1951–2017), who designed the iconic rainbow flag as a symbol of the LGBTQ community. We fans of Gilbert (and good friends as fellow nuns) attended the grand reception at the Museum on November 1. First displayed at the 1978 San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade, the flag has transcended its humble, hand-sewn origins to become an internationally recognized symbol. I am so proud that decades ago, Gilbert sewed me a very special miniskirt made of his actual rainbow flag material that I have worn every single SF Pride Parade. Curated by Joanna Black and Jeremy Prince, PERFORMANCE, PROTEST, AND POLITICS – the works of Gilbert Baker are now on display at the GLBT HISTORICAL SOCIETY MUSEUM, 4127 18th Street all November. My fave Gilbert gowns on display are the turquoise blue Statue of Liberty, the red-white-and-blue Betsy Ross creation, and the floor-length gold sequined hooded piece—all of which Gilbert proudly donned in demonstrations. But the not happy clothes on display are the striking striped concentration uniforms with pink triangles from the Nazi era—although have we really exited the Nazi times these modern days?

    The SF Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence offered a sacred blessing involving the colors of Gilbert’s rainbow flag. I got to represent purple, my special royal queer color. Supervisor Rafael Mandelman spoke of the importance of this exhibition and how Baker helped immensely in the fight for Gay Rights. Mandelman introduced Black and Prince who echoed that sentiment and made a point that we must help build a national LGBTQ museum in San Francisco. And who else but Executive Director Terry Beswick brought that fact home and urged folks to support that vital effort! I just pray that it is somehow here in the Castro.

    November 1 was truly a night for art, because STRUT, the 470 Castro Street hub of queer health and social welfare, gave a lovely reception for the gorgeous art of Serge Gay Jr.—whom I have raved about so many times (including the Halloween edition of the Bay Times). So, let me just point out my faves: “Down the Rabbit Hole” with a handsome bare-chested guy in rabbit ears above an outstretched naked man. Second to that are all the sketches in progress he has made, some of which were in the studios of artist and mentor of many, Thomasina DeMaio. But the most dramatic in the room are part of the overwhelming GIGANTIC leather pictorial assemblage of jacket, cap, boots, gloves, briefs, and dark sunglasses. Sooo very Folsom to the max! Go see these!

    KATHY GRIFFIN‘s film, “A HELL OF A STORYA Docu-Comedy,” was followed by a fascinating, incisive Q&A by Kate Kendell, former executive director of the NATIONAL CENTER FOR LESBIAN RIGHTS (NCLR). The inspirational event was at the Castro Theatre on November 2, hosted by Mark Rhoades and benefiting THE RICHMOND/ERMET AID FOUNDATION. Of course, the movie centered around the infamous “decapitated Trump” photo and how Griffin fought back with humor, while shedding emotional tears backstage and behind the scenes. We followed her on her international tour. She proudly stood for freedom of speech, despite the death threats. Griffin was greatly honored with Certificates of Recognition presented by Senator Scott Wiener and SF Supervisor Rafael Mandelman (signed unanimously by the entire Board of Supervisors). And it was officially named KATHY GRIFFIN DAY in San Francisco by Mayor London Breed. Also, The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence sainted the woman. She could get no better reception than us queers in the center of the Gay Universe—clapping, hooting, and hollering for our hero! 

    Dennis McMillan (aka Sister Dana) surrounded by friends at the Castro Theatre on Saturday, November 2, for the REAF benefit screening of Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story. Following the screening, Kathy Griffin was interviewed on stage by San Francisco Bay Times columnist Kate Kendell. Mark Rhoades served as host for the evening.

    On November 5, I joined THE SISTERS OF PERPETUAL INDULGENCE in BINGO at Almanac brewery and taproom in Alameda. I just love pulling balls with the nuns!

    Trump has been threatening to hold back Federal aid for California wildfires, blaming our governor, adding no heartfelt sympathy for these awful tragedies; but Governor Gavin Newsom wittily fired back, “You don’t believe in climate change. You are excused from this conversation.” Ohhh snap!

    On November 7, the AIDS LEGAL REFERRAL PANEL (ALRP) of the San Francisco Bay Area commemorated 36 years of serving the legal needs of people living with HIV/AIDS throughout the SF Bay Area by hosting its ALRP FROM THE HEART 36th Annual Reception. Their biggest fundraising event of the year featured special guest host Supervisor Rafael Mandelman who helped to honor the tremendous contributions of long-time supporter and Panel Attorney Connie HiattJD, with the Clint Hockenberry Leadership Award in recognition of her years of dedication and support of people living with HIV/AIDS. Also recognized was ALRP Panel Attorney John E. Fasesky, Esq., with the Attorney of the Year Award, and the law firm Kosinski & Thiagaraj, LLP, with the Firm of the Year Award. ALRP’s Executive Director Bill Hirsh noted that despite a difficult economic climate for HIV/AIDS fundraising and a 66% increase in its caseload over the last fifteen years, ALRP continues to provide free and sliding scale legal services to over 1,500 people living with HIV/AIDS each year.

     Sister Dana sez, “There’s more to NOVEMBER than Turkey and Pumpkin Pie, so check out these non-Thanksgiving events!”

    The annual STAFF, MEMBERS & VOLUNTEERS EXHIBIT portrays a current look at what is being created in the Darkrooms and Digital Labs at the HARVEY MILK PHOTO CENTER by their members, staff, and volunteers. I attended the opening reception on November 8. This exciting exhibit has been curated by staff members and generous volunteers to encompass a wide and exciting subject matter. Check out “Día de los Muertos,” a solarized print by Mitch Parker, differing from the usual colorful Day of the Dead views as a somber black portrayal. All viewable now through December 8 at 50 Scott Street.

    LIVING ANGELS is a group art show curated by Thomasina DeMaio depicting caretakers in our community. They were on the frontlines during the 1980s until now, taking care of people and their needs. The show is currently on display at Eureka Valley Recreation Center, 100 Collingwood Street.

    TRANSGENDER DAY OF REMEMBRANCE is November 20. Honor the lives of those we have lost as we continue to work toward justice and equality for transgender people. See page 4 of this issue for a listing of related events.

    THE ROLE OF ART IN A PERIOD OF POLITICAL TURMOIL is exhibited at SPARK ARTS, 4229 18th Street, now through November 30. It is definitely anti-Trump, especially the witty political paintings by Rob Cox. I am very sad to announce that after the December showing, Spark Arts will be closing down. Humbug! Another great art venue in the Castro dies because of rent increases. December 5 is their very last reception.

    ART ATTACK is presenting ANOTHER (SWELL) SHOW featuring the works of SAN FRANCISCO ART INSTITUTE artists on view now through December 1, 2358 Market Street. Everything including soft sculpture, purses, ceramics, and paintings. Don’t miss #32, a tattooed, purple-sparkled bespectacled man in acrylic paint and pens on canvas by Maria Kleis

    In response to a wave of discriminatory anti-LGBTQ laws and the divisive 2016 election, the SAN FRANCISCO GAY MEN’S CHORUS embarked on a tour of the American Deep South, recorded as MTV’s stunning documentary, GAY CHORUS DEEP SOUTH, opening November 22 at the Roxie Theater, 3117 16th Street.

    BAY AREA MUSICALS has opened its fifth anniversary season with GYPSY, considered among critics and theater historians to be the best American Musical ever. GYPSY is loosely based on the 1957 memoirs of famed stripper Gypsy Rose Lee. All the actors/dancers/singers are fantastic, but three shining stars are Ariela Morgenstern belting out the numbers as pathetic stage mother “Rose,” Jade Shoajaee as meek child actor turned super-stripper Gypsy “Louise,” and Tia Konsur as overly bubbly baby “June.” This show-stopping musical comedy plays now through December 8 at the Alcazar, 650 Geary.

    Sister Dana sez, “It’s way past Halloween, but I need to H-ween scream about not having closed off the Castro—meaning excessive foot traffic on the sidewalks. And did they really need a parade of cops roaring down Castro street with sirens and lights?! Next year, close the damn streets on Halloween, and let us costumed folks roam freely!”

    Published on November 14, 2019