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    Sister Dana sez, “World AIDS Day was commemorated worldwide.”

    By Sister Dana Van Iquity–

    Sister Dana sez, “World AIDS Day was commemorated worldwide. But what did Presi-dense Trump do? Well, the Democratic National Committee pointed out that his administration’s proposed budget for 2020 would slash funding for global HIV programs, putting countless lives at risk! DNC added, ‘This president is no ally of people living with HIV, who are disproportionately LGBTQ and people of color.'”

    WORLD AIDS DAY —every December 1—is a reminder that nearly four 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, today 36 million people are currently living with the virus. New advancements in diagnostics, treatments, and medicine are helping nearly 20 million people live healthy with the disease. In the United States, 1.1 million people are currently living with HIV. On December 1, this year, over 1,500 people gathered in THE NATIONAL AIDS MEMORIAL. The Memorial relies solely on funding from personal donors and corporate partners to support its mission and programs, which now include the AIDS QUILT, and ensures that the story of AIDS and the AIDS movement is known in perpetuity so that never again will our national conscience allow a community to be devastated by an epidemic because of fear, silence, discrimination, or stigma. Created 28 years ago in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, it is a place where those impacted by AIDS can grieve and heal. In 1996, legislation by U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, elevating “the Grove” as this nation’s sole federally-designated National AIDS Memorial.

    “The National AIDS Memorial is honored to recognize so many leaders on this World AIDS Day. They have all been an inspiration, forging common ground by sharing their personal stories, through their activism and by changing hearts and minds in this long struggle against HIV and AIDS,” said John Cunningham, Executive Director of the National AIDS Memorial. “Their collective voices have made a difference, through their loss, their love, and in helping us always remember the lives we’ve lost through this disease.” On World AIDS Day in the Grove, Rick Welts, president & COO of the GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS, was honored with the National Leadership Recognition Award. The Thom Weyand Unsung Hero Award was presented to Leslie Ewing, who has dedicated much of her life to LGBTQ civil rights. A $2.4 million grant from Gilead Sciences to support the Quilt Programs was also formally announced.

    On the eve of World AIDS Day, November 30, the National AIDS Memorial was artistically-illuminated with brilliant light displays as part of the annual “Light in the Grove” fundraising gala. We guests experienced a candlelight reflection at the Circle of Friends (engravings of those who have passed from AIDS), laying down our candles there, and we wandered reflectively through the illuminated Redwood Grove and musical choreographed performances by the James Graham Dancers.

    On that night, during LIGHT IN THE GROVE, Co-chairs Beth Ross & Dan Dodd (both brand new board members) welcomed us. They and we were so excited that the AIDS Quilt was coming home to find its permanent residence in the Grove. “The enormity of loss our beloved quilt represents is so profound, and has kept so many of us moving forward when, at so many times during this painful journey, we thought it was over,” said co-creator Cleve Jones. “I cannot express how meaningful it is to have the Quilt return to San Francisco, where it will live forever so that every story, every life, every friend and lover, will never, ever be forgotten.” Some of the quilts were on display at the event, with the rest due to arrive in EssEff in early 2020.

    Entertainment of live music from the Golden Oldies (which I consider as ’80s and ’90s) was provided by Josh Klipp and the KlipptonesMario P. Diaz, a former National AIDS Memorial Board member and longtime community relations leader with Wells Fargo, received the Lifetime of Commitment Award, presented by Tom NolanPROJECT OPEN HAND executive director for 16 years. Mario, a dear friend of mine, who retired this year, held various positions within the WELLS FARGO FOUNDATION, and managed the charitable philanthropic program and volunteerism for the greater San Francisco region. His unwavering commitment, compassion, and generosity have resulted in myriad philanthropic partnerships with organizations and communities. He spoke of his “enduring friendships” that have helped him (and us) throughout the AIDS crisis.

    BENEFIT FOR THE VICTIMS OF THE CASTRO FIRES was held at the Oasis on Thanksgiving Eve. We Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and glorious members of the community raised $3,224 in donations + $2,500 with our Silent Auction. I got to take the stage and thank everyone for their support with my trouble in the fire—living just feet away from the burning building. I would also like to especially thank those who performed to make the evening a tremendous success: Grand Duchess Migitte Nielsen, Grand Duke Manny Santos, Sister Roma, Sister Tilda NexTime, Sister Mary Media, Kylie Minono, Mutha Chucka, Donna Sachet (who sang my favorite Sachet song, “We Can Be Kind”), Katya Smirnoff-Skyy, Glamma More, Elektra Befierce, Frida K-Hole, Princess Tiny Meat, Sister Bella Donna Summer, Glamamore, Miss Shugana, Madd Dogg 20/20, Emperor John Weber (who merrily spun me around onstage in a surprise dance), and of course, DJ Jimmy Strano. If I left anyone out, please forgive me. It was an extremely emotional night!

    Sister Dana sez, “There are so many ways to celebrate the Holi-daze. Check out some of these upcoming appropriately festive events!”

    Ugly Xmas sweaters are on the rise, which can only mean it’s time for what has become a San Francisco tradition—the annual production of THE GOLDEN GIRLS LIVE! THE CHRISTMAS EPISODES at the Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th Street, now through December 22, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, 8 pm; Saturdays, 3 pm and 8 pm, Sundays, 2 pm and 7 pm.

    RICHMOND/ERMET AID FOUNDATION (REAF) presents HELP IS ON THE WAY FOR THE HOLIDAYS concert at the Marines’ Memorial Theater, 609 Sutter Street, December 9, 7:30 pm. It will feature both holiday songs and songs that reflect the spirit of the holidays—love, hope, and compassion. Check out the amazing lineup of talent and the VIP after-party with the cast at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel following the concert.

    Come to the RAINBOW WORLD FUND‘s WORLD TREE OF HOPE CELEBRATION on Tuesday, December 10, 6:30 pm at Grace Cathedral, 1100 California Street. Join us as we gather wishes and hopes for the future of our global community and give them wings. Free admission. The entertainment is amazing. Just go to the website and see. We Sisters will do a blessing and help light the tree, including hundreds of white origami doves and wishes from children afar.

    It’s a magical, merry, and mirthful evening (with just a bit of sass) celebrating the holiday season of giving on Tuesday, December 10, and Wednesday, December 11, at the legendary Feinstein’s at the Nikko, 222 Mason Street! Now in its 27th year, SONGS OF THE SEASON, a benefit supporting PRC, returns with star-studded talent, curated and hosted by Billboard Recording Artist Brian Kent. Note: there is a $20 food and beverage minimum per person in Feinstein’s at the Nikko and an 18% gratuity is added to all checks. Check out the talented performers and my faves.

    Sister Dana sez, “In less than three years, the Trump administration has seated more than 150 federal (most likely pro-Trump) judges—appointing nominees faster than any president in modern history. We’re talking 40 years of power, folks, for people picked by tyrannical Trump to make decisions about our bodies, our rights, and our lives. We gotta keep up our activism and not idly stand by!”

    Published on December 5, 2019