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    Sister Dana sez, Lots of holidays coming up: so let me be the first to wish you all a Happy May Day

    sisterdBy Sister Dana Van Iquity

    Sister Dana sez, “Lots of holidays coming up: so let me be the first to wish you all a Happy May Day (get out your May Pole), Happy Cinco de Mayo (celebrate the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 – or just wear a big Mexican hat and drink tequila), and a Happy Mother’s Day to yo’ momma!”

    Each year EQUALITY CALIFORNIA (EQCA) honors the inspirational leaders and outstanding allied organizations whose selfless work helps create a better world for all people. The EQUALITY AWARDS recognize the achievements of the organization, its sponsors, members, staff and volunteers, as well as the LGBTQ community. The ceremonial dinner was held at the Westin St. Francis where Equality California Institute Board President Joyce Rowland presented the Vanguard Leadership Award to former Congressman Barney Frank for his trailblazing leadership in the House of Representatives from 1981 to 2013. Frank played an important role in the LGBTQ civil rights movement for over two decades. Frank spoke with his usual humor and, dare I say, frankness about the spread of supposed “religious freedom acts” that are outright homophobic attacks, as well as the importance of electing LGBTQ politicians regardless of their party. State Senator Mark Leno presented the Community Leadership Award to both Geoff Kors and Jody Cole for their outstanding work advancing LGBTQ rights. Geoff Kors, former Executive Director of Equality California, and Jody Cole, former Equality California Institute Board President, both were among the key architects of the queer community’s strategy to achieve marriage equality and comprehensive civil rights protections for LGBTQ Californians. California State Controller Betty Yee and State Farm’s Joe Freund presented Suzy Jones with the State Farm Good Neighbor Award. Jones, a longtime LGBTQ civil rights activist in San Francisco, received the award for her dedication and extraordinary service on Equality California’s Board of Directors from 2010 to 2014, and the important role she played representing and advocating for the San Francisco community in that role. San Francisco Supervisor David Campos and Supervisor Scott Wiener and Andrea Casalett, event co-chairs, were speakers at the event, as was EQCA Board Development Chair Beth Collins-Burgard regarding the tragedy of queer teen suicides. EQCA Executive Director Rick Zbur screened videos of EQCA’s successes and gave a rousing speech about how we are all here “to proclaim our future full equality and social justice.”

    LAMBDA LEGAL is one of the nation’s oldest and largest legal organizations working for the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, and people with HIV/AIDS. They pursue impact litigation; cases that will have the greatest impact in protecting and advancing the rights of LGBTQ people and those with HIV. Their docket ordinarily includes about 65 open cases at a time and also supports many important cases by filing friend-of-the-court (amicus) briefs. To toast Lambda’s landmark victories from over 40 years of successful impact litigation, we joined Lambda Legal’s Bay Area Leadership Council for a fabulous evening at City View at the Metreon for SOIREE 2015: HAVANA NIGHTS – Mojitos, Mambos and More! Sister Dana tried his first Kentucky Bourbon Mojito. Special guest was Elliot Fuerst, a 16-year-old transgender male student from upstate New York, who spoke of his being discriminated in the locker room and rest rooms until Lambda Legal interfered. He noted he was not the only transgender student at his school. Lambda Legal Executive Director Kevin Cathcart inspired everyone, and we learned of Lambda Legal updates. He said we would probably have to wait at least eight weeks before we heard the outcome of the Supreme Court marriage case. “We have a lot of victories to celebrate and a lot more victories to come,” he concluded. Festive entertainment was provided by Energia Do Samba, DJ Olga T, and Velocity Circus.

    429 and THE SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL FILM FES- TIVAL presented 54: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT screening at the Castro Theatre. The cut of the film released in theaters in 1998 removed more than 45 minutes of beautifully acted, Cabaret-like licentiousness in the form of amibisexual polyamory and rampant drug use at the Studio 54 nightclub, and replaced it with 40 minutes of cloying romance in a compromise to make the film more mainstream. With the original footage restored, the film has become a coarse masterpiece, a classic of bored excess and existential longing, tons of Quaaludes & coke, and the pulsing beat and recreated performances of disco music’s pinnacle. Ryan Phillippe is Shane, an ambitious Jersey boy whom Club 54 co-founder Steve Rubell (played by Mike Myers) admits to 54, beginning his transformation from busboy to bartender, from ingénue to bisexual hustler, and from beer drinker to drug dealer, temporarily casting aside friends Greg (Breckin Meyer) the fellow bartender and wife Anita (Salma Hayek) the coat check girl in the process. As a special treat, Breckin, Ryan, and the writer/director Mark Christopher appeared on stage. Christopher said he fought hard to get the original footage restored, adding some lost video footage and a new voiceover. He noted the loveable elderly druggie Disco Dottie (Ellen Dow) was 101 years old that night. Breckin confessed that his first ever onscreen kiss was with Ryan – and though both were straight, they had no problem. They have been good friends ever since the first film version was cast. Ryan said this was “the right version,” and that this way the viewer feels “inside the club instead of outside the ropes” with the sanitized story.

    THE OPENHOUSE SPRING FLING 2015 honored Dr. Sandra R. Hernandez, who received the Adelman-Gurevitch Founder’s Award, presented by Dr. Marcy Adelman; and Ambassador James C. Hormel & Michael Nguyen, who received the Openhouse Trailblazer’s Award, presented by Senator Mark Leno. The Eva Lily Volunteer Service Award was established in 2014 to recognize the invaluable contributions of volunteers to the Openhouse community. The award is a way to thank and honor volunteers who demonstrate exceptional commitment and passion in serving queer seniors and advancing the mission of Openhouse. This year’s recipients were Ruth Herring, Bruce Thompson, and Patty Woods, who received awards from Openhouse Director of Programs Michelle Alcedo. President Bill Scherer noted that over 1,000 seniors had been served last year. He screened a video showing the multitude of senior-positive events offered by Openhouse. Executive Director Seth Kilbourn asked everyone to don their pink construction hats, supplied at the tables, reminding us of the affordable LGBT housing being constructed at 55 Laguna. He pointed out that over the next decade, more than 30,000 LGBTQ people in San Francisco would be of an age to ask how Openhouse might welcome them.

    Sister Dana sez, “Kudos to Olympic Gold Medalist Bruce Jenner for publicly talking about being a transgender woman. I heartily applaud her courage to be genuine and live her life authentically – out loud and proud!”

    CUMMING UP!

    NCLR ANNIVERSARY CELE-BRATION is Saturday, May 2nd, Dinner at 5:30 pm at Marriott Marquis, 55 4th Street; Party from 9pm to midnight at City View at Metreon, 135 4th Street. nclrights.org

    MARRIAGE EQUALITY USA (MEUSA) is presenting SAN FRANCISCO GARDEN PARTY + AWARDS to highlight the contributions of community, corporate, and political leaders who have contributed to moving the issue of marriage equality forward. The event is a celebratory afternoon of cocktails, light food, entertainment and a silent auction at Chambers Eat + Drink, 601 Eddy Street on May 3rd, 1-4pm. MEUSA is honoring Senator Mark Leno, the San Francisco Giants, and Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF). (347) 913-6369, marriageequality.org

    PEACHES CHRIST PRODUC-TIONS proudly presents DROP DEAD GORGEOUS with the World Premiere Pre-Show Parody Spectacular, DEATH DROP GORGEOUS starring Bendela-creme, Suppositori Spelling, Jinkx Monsoon, Pandora Boxx & Peaches Christ at The Castro Theatre, May 9th at 3pm & 8pm. When the wickedly hilarious beauty pageant mockumentary Drop Dead Gorgeous was first released in 1999, it should’ve been a slam-dunk. It had the accents of Fargo, the format of Waiting for Guffman, and a hot ‘90s cast. However, it was a flop. But we in-the-know know it became a cult classic. Drop Dead Gorgeous has been notoriously out-of-print both physically and digitally for many years; but now you can see it, as well as the usual Peaches perfection that Mz Christ puts on all her delicious live parodies. peacheschrist.com

    Sister Dana sez, “As Bay Times goes to press, the U.S. Supreme Court has already started to review the case of a lifetime regarding the nationwide Constitutional legality of same-sex marriage. Let’s really hope they come out on the right side of civil rights history!”