Sister Dana Sez: Words of Wisdumb From a Fun Nun

sisterdanaBy Sister Dana Van Iquity

Sister Dana sez, “Repugnicans and some dipstick Democrats have planned since the beginning to loosen the sequester in exchange for unpopular cuts to our Social Security system, Medicare, and Medicaid. This is insane. Congress can work together now to end all of these careless cuts in benefits and services by closing corporate tax loopholes and ending tax breaks for the wealthy.”

On the eve of World AIDS Day, LIGHT IN THE GROVE was the annual fundraising gala for the NATIONAL AIDS MEMORIAL GROVE in Golden Gate Park. For the occasion, on this very special night, the Grove was lit up everywhere, bathed in various colors of the rainbow. The theme was «an evening of remembrance, renewal, and reunion.» Across from a babbling brook on a ledge, a troupe of Polynesian dancers performed. We traveled a path lighted with pearlescent globes to the Circle of Friends, where names of both the living and the dead were inscribed in cement and lit by hundreds of flickering candles. We proceeded down the path to a grove that replicated thousands of fireflies buzzing overhead, and then past a lighted Japanese rock garden and simulated stream to a lit up memorial stone for the great diva Sylvester, reading, «Thank you for the dance. You make me feel…» Projected against the trees was a rotating list of names of those who lost their battle with AIDS. We entered a clear plastic tent allowing dramatic views of trees overhead and to the sides, with the feeling of being outside yet toasty warm within. Inside an art gallery depicted all the flora found in the park, painted in watercolors by students of the Mary L. Harden School of Botanical Illustrations. They were created from a palette consisting of 21 colors, of which green was NOT one.

The program opened with the melodious singing of soprano Parris Lane and her gorgeous interpretation of the inspirational “A Hero Lies in You.” Grove Honorary Co-Chairs Larry Hashbarger, Laura Heffron, and Patrick Smith introduced Grove Executive Director John Cunningham, who asked the audience to picture someone they knew who they lost to AIDS. He encouraged everyone to feel the spirit of remembrance and healing inside the tent and the “intricate tapestry of the fabric of AIDS.” He thanked principal sponsor Wells Fargo, then screened a video of Tim Hanlon, recipient of the Light in the Grove honor, which was both a tribute and a humorous roast. Hanlon is President of Wells Fargo Foundation and an Executive Vice President of Wells Fargo. He is responsible for many charitable programs across the nation. He urged everyone to recommit to the battle against AIDS.

Very few individuals have had as vital and lasting an impact on HIV/AIDS advocacy, policy, planning, and community empowerment as has Phill Wilson, this year’s recipient of the National AIDS Memorial Grove’s National Leadership Recognition Award, given at WORLD AIDS DAY OBSERVANCE at the Grove on Sunday, December 1st, where about 600 people attended. Wilson currently is the President and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, the only national HIV/AIDS think tank focused exclusively on Black people. The Institute’s mission is to stop the AIDS pandemic in Black communities by engaging and mobilizing Black institutions and individuals in efforts to confront HIV.

Among other awards, the Local Unsung Hero Award was given posthumously to Franco Angelo Beneduce, who was involved in LGBTQ causes throughout his life. He was the visionary creator and producer behind the annual “Light in the Grove” event and the Folsom Street Fair’s “Magnitude” after-hours dance party fundraiser.

25th Annual WORLD AIDS DAY mobilization on December 1st featured the Castro Theater screening the award-winning WE WERE HERE, which was followed by a silent vigil on Castro Street.

CUMMING UP!

THE GOLDEN GIRLS – THE CHRISTMAS EPISODES opened December 5th and runs through the 22nd, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays – 8pm and Sundays 7pm. This classic on a classic stars Heklina, Cookie Dough, Matthew Martin, and Pollo Del Mar, co-starring Laurie Bushman, Manuel Caneri, Peter Griggs, and Jordan Wheeler. The Victoria Theatre, 2961 – 16th Street at Mission. “Thank you for being a friend.” Trannyshack.com.

HELP IS ON THE WAY FOR THE HOLIDAYS XII is produced by the RICHMOND/ERMET AIDS FOUNDATION on Monday, December 9th, Marines’ Memorial Theater, 609 Sutter Street, with primary beneficiaries including Maitri and Positive Resource Center. Your favorite stars of both present and past entertain in a fabulous lineup that just must be seen at helpisontheway.org! So go! See!

THE WORLD TREE OF HOPE is the largest origami decorated holiday tree in the world, standing 25 feet tall and decorated with over 12,000 origami cranes and stars- each hand folded and inscribed with wishes for the future of the world. The tree is created each year as a symbol of global unity to promote peace, love, and humanitarianism. It is created by RAINBOW WORLD FUND as a gift from the LGBTQ and friends community to the world. The tree is displayed in the Rotunda of City Hall. Open to the public on Tuesday, December 10th is the TREE LIGHTING PARTY in the Rotunda, beginning 5:30pm with concert by the Grammy Award winning San Francisco Boys Chorus; 6pm is a Celebration of Hope with Mayor Edwin Lee and First Lady Anita Lee. Dr. Clarence Jones, political advisor, counsel, and draft speechwriter (“I Have a Dream”) for Dr. Martin Luther King, will speak on hope. Consul General of Japan, Masato Watanabe, will present a peace crane to the City. The Chinese American International School Children’s Choir will perform. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence will bless the tree.  The emcee is Donna Sachet. rainbowfund.org.

22ND ANNUAL HAND TO HAND LUNCHEON is a benefit for PROJECT OPEN HAND, December 12th, The Fairmont, 950 Mason Street, 11am – noon: creative cocktails & silent auction; noon – 1:30pm: multi-course chef showcase lunch by SF’s most brilliant chefs. Delicious! openhand.org.

HAM PANTS PRODUCTIONS presents TOP GUYS. Remember Top Gun? Of course you do. Who could forget Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer hanging around in locker rooms, learning about male intimacy, playing volleyball, and occasionally even flying airplanes. All completely heteronormative right? Riiiight. Catch this hilarious send-up at Stage Werx, 446 Valencia, now through Dec. 14th, Wednesdays through Saturdays, 8pm. sfindie.com.

THE NUTCRACKER IN 3D is at the Castro Theatre, Saturday, December 14th, 1:30pm matinee and 4pm. Captured live in December 2011, this sumptuous traditional production of Tchaikovsky’s beloved ballet was filmed at the historic Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia where the original Nutcracker was first performed over 120 years ago. castrotheatre.com.

The annual SAN FRANCISCO SANTACON is on Saturday, December 14th. This is a total “SantAnarchy” event when a herd of folks dressed as Santa (and usually not the traditional look) or elves “terrorize” the City – all in good fun. Deets can be found at santacon.info/San_Francisco and sanfranciscosantarchy.wordpress.com. You have been warned. Ho ho!

16TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY LEATHER BRUNCH is a benefit for POSITIVE RESOURCE CENTER at the Edge bar, 4149 18th Street and Collingwood, on Sunday, December 15th, 11am to 2pm. $20 ticket gets great food, drink, and entertainment.

Sister Dana sez, “Senator Barbara Boxer is original co-sponsor of SB-500, the Keeping Our Social Security Promises Act that would keep Social Security solvent for the next 75 years by applying the current payroll tax rate to annual income above $250,000. It would raise more than $85 billion a year for the Social Security Trust Fund with no increase in taxes for anyone making less than $250,000 a year – that is, 98.7 percent of American workers. Go, Barbara, go!”