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    Sister Dana sez, “When we run strong on Social Security and Medicare—not just protecting them, but improving and expanding them—progressive candidates can win in any district. Let us pray for the Blue Wave

    By Sister Dana Van Iquity–

    Sister Dana sez, “When we run strong on Social Security and Medicare—not just protecting them, but improving and expanding them—progressive candidates can win in any district. Let us pray for the Blue Wave!”               

    TRANSGENDER LAW CENTER (TLC) celebrated 16 years of igniting change and doing what it takes to keep transgender and gender nonconforming people alive, thriving and fighting for liberation. This year’s celebration, SPARK!, was held on October 18 at the Bently Reserve. Before showing a video of all the accomplishments of TLC, Executive Director Kris Hayashi noted that TLC is the largest national trans-led organization advocating self-determination for all people, and added that TLC changes law, policy and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression. I had the good fortune of sitting next to the relatively new Executive Director for ST. JAMES INFIRMARY, Toni Newman, and trans-man Trystan Reese, who spoke of his fame as what he called himself “the man who birthed a baby.” He talked about the pros and cons of being famous, and praised his children. He came down from Portland, where he is a trans activist, especially for this event.

    Longtime trans activist Cecilia Chung brought to the podium a Certificate of Recognition from the Mayor to the Vanguard Awardee, Laverne Cox, who is a two-time Emmy-nominated actress and Emmy-winning producer best known for her work on the critically acclaimed Netflix original series Orange is The New Black, where she plays the groundbreaking role of Sophia Burset. Laverne is the first trans woman of color to have a leading role on a mainstream scripted television show, and is the first openly trans person to be nominated for an Emmy in an acting category. She gave a truly inspiring and empowering speech from the heart. She spoke of her heartbreakingly difficult years in New York during her transition as a black trans woman, when she seriously contemplated committing suicide. But she got into therapy, received help from a life coach and found a community “for which I am grateful, because I would not be standing here today,” she said tearfully. She said we are all here for “a divine purpose” to show that “trans lives matter!” She added, “We are under attack and scapegoated like never before, but this is the moment to connect with our divine sense of being.” She concluded, “Every day I can say I choose love today and not fear.”   

    On Saturday, October 20, OURTOWNSF along with the EUREKA VALLEY RECREATION CENTER and TurnOut (connecting volunteers with LGBTQ causes and promoting volunteerism and community engagement among LGBTQ people and allies) hosted the 3rd annual OURTOWNSF NONPROFIT EXPO at Castro’s Eureka Valley Recreation Center. OurTownSF is a program of REAF (RICHMOND-ERMET AID FOUNDATION)—a 501(c)3 nonprofit providing aid to HIV/AIDS, hunger and underserved youth programs. The remarkable event (with the theme: “Over the Rainbow”) featured over 100 SF LGBTQ nonprofit service agencies and over $1,000 in door prizes. From 2016 to 2017 the Expo grew from 56 to 105 groups participating, and attendees increased from a few hundred to over 1,000. This year’s amazing entertainment included San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band; Billboard recording artist, Bebe Sweetbriar; Sundance Saloon—our community’s premiere country-western dance club, where folks were encouraged to join in, no partner needed; CHEER SF—the official cheerleading team of SF; cabaret chanteuse Leanne Borghesi; and Emjay Mercury – one of the reigning SF Drag Kings winners. https://www.ourtownsf.org/

    The 34th Annual San Francisco Bay Area HRC GALA DINNER & AUCTION was held at Hyatt Regency San Francisco on October 20. Due to the ongoing strike at the Westin St. Francis, the Gala was moved to the Hyatt Regency on the iconic Embarcadero. It should be noted that the same situation occurred with SHANTI PROJECT having to postpone their fundraiser on October 4. This was HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN‘s largest annual event in Northern California attracting over 800 of HRC’s most active supporters, allies, business leaders, elected officials and luminaries raising resources and awareness for issues faced by LGBTQ Americans and providing a focused opportunity for local involvement. I chatted with Senator Dianne Feinstein in the VIP area. She agreed that we must pray for the Blue Wave overpowering the Red Tide, but “when they go low; we go low,” indicating we can go lower than usual but not as low as the Republicans go. Inside the ballroom, HRC President Chad Griffin spoke on the current priorities of HRC and the importance of the public’s support. He said a reckoning is coming on Election Day. Griffin said, “Our grassroots army of more than 3 million strong is helping to build our political power in order to pull the emergency brake on the Trump-Pence administration on Election Day.” He concluded, regarding the many LGBTQ candidates nationwide, “Forget the Blue Wave, because the Rainbow Wave is coming!”

    Nico Santos was the HRC Visibility Award recipient. Santos is the openly gay Filipino-American actor from the highly successful movie, Crazy Rich Asians, and NBC TV’s hilarious sitcom, Superstore. And the 2018 HRC Corporate Equality Award went to Laura Alber, CEO of Williams-Sonoma, Inc., for their exceptional commitment to equality for the LGBTQ community. The night featured actress, activist and inspirational trans singer Shea Diamond for entertainment, performing her truly moving music, including “Where’s My Piece of American Pie,” and another, “I Am Her,” reflecting her time while wrongly incarcerated for being her authentic self. Author Garrard Conley, an LGBTQ civil rights advocate, was a special guest. Conley’s memoir about his wretched time in conversion therapy was the inspiration for the film Boy Erased. DJ Christopher B spun great beats at the After Party with stunning views of the Bay and Ferry Building.

    Dozens of community members and organizations with the NO NEW SF JAIL COALITION gathered for a lively rally on October 22 outside of San Francisco’s City Hall with a black on yellow floating banner that read, “No More Jails, No More Cops.” The rally was organized to urge City officials to follow through on their commitment to close the jail in the decrepit Hall of Justice Building at 850 Bryant Street. The rally was endorsed by a number of organizations, including GAY SHAME, SENIOR AND DISABILITY ACTION, and TGI JUSTICE PROJECT

    On October 25, Mayor London Breed announced an Executive Directive to expand gender and self-identifiers on all City forms and applications when asking for demographic information and to provide gender identity training for City employees. The Directive comes in the wake of plans by the Trump Administration to roll back recognition of transgender people under federal civil rights laws. In addition to this Directive, Mayor Breed will work to introduce legislation to ensure that this recognition is protected permanently. 

    Matthew Shepard, who was murdered at 21 years old in 1998 in an anti-gay hate crime, was interred at Washington National Cathedral following a service of thanksgiving and remembrance on October 26, at the request of the Shepard family. October 12 was the 20th anniversary of Shepard’s death. The service celebrated and recalled Shepard’s life and was followed by a private interment in the Cathedral crypt. The service was presided over by the Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Episcopal Bishop of Washington, and the Right Rev. V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay priest to be consecrated a bishop in the Episcopal Church.

    We partied with a purpose on October 26 and joined ACADEMY OF FRIENDS‘ 39th season ART AND FASHION KICKOFF PARTY for an evening of fashion and art at Art Attack SF in the Castro. Carnie Asada was the hostess with the mostest. I told her I worried that her gorgeous floor-length diaphanous gown might trip her and get caught on her high heels, and she thanked me for the warning and carried on like a true DQ!. Featured on that night was the awesome art of Tracy Piper, which has been exhibited for many marvelous months there and that you will no doubt recognize in my constant ravings about her paintings, which I have reviewed during the monthly CASTRO ART WALKS. I was especially thrilled to witness Piper in real life painting before our very eyes. What a treat! She told me she has never used a model, but always painted in her vivid imagination. Tracy supremely sparkled in a black and silver sequined jumpsuit that night. Krewe de Kinque King Gary Virginia joined me in enjoying delicious bites and cocktails by Effen vodka (from Holland, but I do childishly enjoy saying the name out loud), and raffles. Fashions were furnished by Black Tie Tuxedos at the Embarcadero Center. Academy of Friends is a local nonprofit, which raises funds, spreads awareness and encourages volunteerism that benefits HIV/AIDS direct care and prevention education agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area. Academy of Friends has been in existence and evolving for over 39 years. Proceeds benefited Academy of Friends and their 2019 beneficiary partners. Be sure to save the date for the 39TH ANNUAL ACADEMY OF FRIENDS GALA on February 24, 2019. Through the annual Academy Awards Night Galas, they have raised $9+ million to support more than 73 HIV/AIDS service organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area. http://www.academyoffriends.org/

    NATIONAL AIDS MEMORIAL GROVE held a FIRST LOOK CEREMONY on October 27 in Golden Gate Park offering a first look of the beautiful ARTISTS PORTAL MEMORIAL at the National AIDS Memorial Grove. The Artists Portal will also be the first permanent memorial honoring singers, instrumentalists, dancers and artists lost to AIDS from local, national and international LGBTQ and other arts organizations. A pre-program began with the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band. This was followed with Supervisor Rafael Mandelman and guest speakers, a reading of the almost 300 names of Chorus members lost to AIDS and a special serenade by SFGMC.

    Dr. Tim Seelig, Artistic Director of the SAN FRANCISCO GAY MEN’S CHORUS, sent a very sad notice regarding the death of his beloved daughter, Corianna: “It is with unimaginable grief that I share the sudden passing of Corianna, my beautiful daughter and best friend, Clay’s wife, and Clara’s Mother. It happened at her home last night. We were all there. She was the brightest of lights. Our lives will never be the same.” On October 28, a CELEBRATION OF LIFE: 1977-2018 was held at Nourse Theatre. Because she was “completely at home in Hawaii,” required attire was Hawaiian or bright colors. Dr. Tim, with his usual fine sense of humor, added, “anyone wearing black will not be allowed entrance.”     

    Cultural folks joined Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, THE CASTRO LGBTQ CULTURAL DISTRICT and the YES ON E CAMPAIGN for a low-impact night of phone and text banking at the GLBT History Museum on October 30. San Francisco’s Proposition E will secure permanent, ongoing funding for the Castro LGBTQ Cultural District, and other cultural districts while increasing funding for arts education, individual artists and arts organizations of all sizes—adding an additional $25M for arts & culture over the next 10 years—without raising taxes! Sister Dana is all in for the arts and culture! Can you say: Amen?!

    D’Arcy Drollinger presents BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER LIVE!, at Oasis, 298 11th Street @ Folsom, now through November 3, Thursday at 8 pm, Friday & Saturday at 7 pm. This is your last chance to see Buffy Summers return to Sunnydale and deal with a rebellious new Slayer named Faith, the return of her vampire boyfriend Angel, a pesky new Watcher, and the Mayor of Sunnydale who has decided to use her graduation to turn into a demon. And all with a hilarious tongue in cheek approach. Featuring the drag talent of Michael Phillis, Kim Burly, Melanie Marshall, John Paul Gonzalez, Laura LeBleu, Sergio Lobito, Kevin Singer, Emily France, Angel Adedokun and Molly Harvey. The night I saw it, October 25, was the birthday of Michael Phillis who plays Buffy. So, of course, we sang “The Happy Birthday Song” and served him cake with candles!

    And next up at Oasis is D’Arcy Drollinger presenting: ABFAB LIVE! November 8–December 1, Thursdays at 8 pm, Fridays & Saturdays at 7 pm. This is a delightful drag parody of the beloved TV cult classic, starring some of San Francisco’s premiere drag performers, sending up two classic episodes: “Sex” and “Jealous.” Sweetie-darlings, get your Stoli and Bolli ready, because it’s gonna be “Absolutely Fabulous!” http://www.sfoasis.com

    On October 28, Senator Scott Wiener, Emeryville Mayor John Bauters and opponents of Proposition 6, rallied in Jane Walker Plaza to ride bikes to the Civic Center in high heels and wigs (fabulous!) in opposition to Prop 6, which would eliminate over $5 billion annually in transportation funds and stop funding for more than 6,500 bridge, road safety and public transit improvement projects currently underway throughout California.

    Sister Dana sez, “These UPCOMING EVENTS are totes ‘da bomb’! But they promise there will be no actual bombs there to scare you! Although you should be scared enough to get your friends and fam to go VOTE against Repugnicans!”  

    DIA DE LOS MUERTOS is hosted by BACK TO THE PICTURE on November 2, 6–9 pm, 934 Valencia Street. They’ll have some traditional Mexican Day of The Dead treats, food, wine, etc. and Day of the Dead art exhibited by dozens of artists. http://www.backtothepicture.com/

    THE BOY FROM OZ is now playing at Theatre Rhinoceros’ Gateway Theatre, 215 Jackson Street at Battery, through November 17. It’s a raucous musical biography about the life of the most famous gay man from Australia—entertainer, singer/songwriter, Peter Allen—featuring songs written by him and with other collaborators. The show begins in the 1950s with his humble beginnings growing up in an Australian (Oz) bush town. He then experiences a meteoric rise to fame as an international star opening for Judy Garland and selling out week-long engagements at Radio City Music Hall. Allen was Judy Garland’s good friend and Liza Minnelli‘s first husband, until he came out gay. This is a tale of humor, heartbreak, self-discovery, forgiveness and love, all told using Allen’s own songs, including “I Honestly Love You,” “Don’t Cry Out Loud,” and “I Go to Rio.” Shows are Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, 8 pm and Saturday matinees 3 pm.

    ART SAVES LIVES presents an ART RECEPTION on November 7, 6–9 pm at Harvey Milk Photo Center, 50 Scott Street. This is an 18-person group show of mixed media, photos, paintings, assemblage, sculpture, pottery and more. Part of the show is a work in progress honoring seniors in photos and paintings—portraiture done in Eureka Rec Center and at Harvey Milk Photo Center. The show closes on December 8. https://www.facebook.com/events/2256236724651616/

    SAN FRANCISCO TRANSGENDER FILM FESTIVAL will take place November 9–11 at the Roxie Theater, 3117 16th Street at Valencia. The San Francisco Transgender Film Festival (SFTFF) screens films that promote the visibility of transgender and gender variant people and challenges the mainstream media’s negative stereotypes of their communities. They provide opportunities for transgender and gender variant media artists, build community through their film and performance events and engage audiences in cross-community dialogue. http://sftff.org/

    PROJECT INFORM presents the annual EVENING OF HOPE, “Building a Future Within Reach” on Thursday, November 15, at Gallery 308 in San Francisco’s historic Fort Mason. This year’s event honors longtime activist and community leader Morey Riordan, and will feature delicious food, flowing cocktails and dazzling entertainment by Synchronicity Strings. The night will feature a special concert by recording artist Matt Bloyd, who represents everything Project Inform stands for. As a young gay man of color, he’s reached for the stars with ambition, openness and integrity. With his art, he promotes a world built on love without stigma, and embodies Project Inform’s founding principle: that a hopeful future is always just within reach. https://www.projectinform.org/

    CRAZY FOR YOU is the Gershwin musical with music and lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin presented by BAY AREA MUSICALS November 10–December 16 at Alcazar Theatre, 650 Geary Street. A zany rich-boy-meets-hometown-girl romantic comedy, Crazy For You tells the story of young New York banker Bobby Child, who is sent to Deadrock, Nevada, to foreclose on a rundown theatre. In Deadrock, Bobby falls for spunky Polly Baker, the theater owner’s daughter. But Polly takes an instant dislike to the city slicker, so Bobby vows—through cunning, razzmatazz and a hilarious case of mistaken identity—to win Polly’s heart and to save the theatre. Memorable Gershwin tunes from the score include “I Got Rhythm,” “Naughty Baby,” “They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” “Embraceable You,” “But Not for Me,” “Nice Work if You Can Get It,” and “Someone to Watch Over Me.” https://www.bamsf.org/crazy-for-you/

     Sister Dana sez, “In state legislatures across the country, GOP lawmakers’ embrace of openly racist or extremist figures, organizations and views often goes unnoticed. And even when it has been exposed in recent years, a Washington-based group that helps elect Republicans to state legislatures says nothing. Birds of a feather?!