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    Sister Dana sez, “This year as always I am celebrating Thanksgiving Day but calling it ‘ThanksGAYing’—because I am truly thankful to be gay!”

    By Sister Dana Van Iquity–

    Sister Dana sez, “This year as always I am celebrating Thanksgiving Day but calling it ‘ThanksGAYing’—because I am truly thankful to be gay!”

    Some of us SISTERS of PERPETUAL INDULGENCE hosted our ANNUAL CHILDREN’S HALLOWEEN IN THE CASTRO—with clowning, bubbles, games, a costume contest, and a big parade down Castro Street where many, many generous shopkeepers had candy for the kiddies as they approached each doorway. Talk about your traditional family values! The parents were delighted, and the children were ecstatic. Contest results? First place to little Troll girl; second place to Zombie Barbie; third place to spider girl; honorable mentions to princess in full length gown and little Star Wars storm trooper.

    I can’t mention Halloween without commenting on this year’s Halloween in the Castro, which was extremely disappointing. As I stood in my opened gate as a Halloween nun in orange and black habit, I noted a dearth of costumes. I would estimate only one in thirty people dressed for the occasion. Was it because of the superfluity of cops herding folks away? Was it just the unadorned bridge & tunnel crowd coming to gape at the costumes (or lack thereof?). I don’t know, but it was anything but festive on Castro Street this year. Hey, gays, this is our High Holy Holiday!

    VULNERABLE, UNGUARDED, UNBOUNDED” is the title of the art of local accomplished photographer Joe Mazza now on display all November at STRUT in the Castro. According to the artist’s statement: “We are most authentic, our most beautiful selves when we are open and vulnerable. This photo series explores these aspects of the human condition—our inner struggle with loneliness, surrender, anticipation, and the embracing of our sense of playfulness, of intimacy, and sexuality.” The subjects in this series are not professional models; they are local artists, health care professionals, athletes, teachers, and students who live and work in San Francisco. None of the pieces are titled, so I just have to go by location. And in the very back left-hand corner are some lovely soft-focus B&W photos of Sister T’aint a Virgin—out of drag and out of clothing. These photos give off a special sweetness. Nearby and to the right is the only full-color photo quartet catching a fun-loving bear (human type) at first getting attacked by a toy racing car, but gradually getting friendlier and finally satiated to sleep. Another of my faves is the Pietà by Michelangelo (not its title), here and now depicted as a modern leatherman interpretation of that famous work of art showing the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother Mary after the Crucifixion. What Mazza has portrayed in this exhibition is his models’ “open spirit and a willingness to explore honest moments that highlight the beautifully complex and vulnerable side of our shared humanity.” strutsf.org

    12 of San Francisco’s fiercest drag queens have come together to create “QUEENS,” a 2018 calendar benefiting SHANTI PROJECT, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the health, quality of life and well-being of people with terminal, life-threatening or disabling illnesses or conditions. For more information on the 2018 “QUEENS” calendar and pre-sale orders of the limited-edition calendar ($25) go to: calendarqueens.com

    THE GRASS ROOTS GAY RIGHTS FOUNDATION invited us to attend their WRAP-UP PARTY & CHECK PRESENTATION as their 2017 Season of Events had come to an end and they were very excited to present the “big check” to their 2017 beneficiaries. This year they supported the following worthy organizations: Dolores Street Community Services, LGBTQ Connection, Positive Resource Center, St. James Infirmary, Maitri, and Southern Poverty Law Center. The Foundation produces the annual REAL BAD fundraising party that follows San Francisco’s world-renowned Folsom Street Fair, and the REACH Pride T-Dance party during San Francisco Pride. The Foundation’s fundraising events and charitable contributions totaled $211,500.

    On October 27 at 7:30 pm, we enjoyed the unveiling of the new art light installation, created to resemble stylistic dandelions, “The Seed,” in Jane Warner Plaza. Music was by the Fiddle Castros String Quartet.

    San Franciscans gathered at Jane Warner Plaza at Castro & Market Street across from Harvey Milk Plaza on November 8 to celebrate Harvey Milk‘s vision of equality and to give everyone hope for moving forward toward peace and justice. The rain was held back, but we couldn’t do much about the fog. The F-line train was temporarily closed off so Castro and 17th Street overflowed with enthusiastic celebrants. We joined the Castro community as we honored Harvey Milk and celebrated the 40th Anniversary of his historic election to the SF Board of Supervisors. The evening was co-sponsored by Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza and Illuminate. Gregg Cassin and Kate Kendell co-hosted with an abundance of speakers, performers, artists, and activists including some Harvey contemporaries: Jan Mirikitani & Mona Webb in an angry demonstrative slam poetry duet, transgender opera singer Breanna Sinclaire who sang “Somewhere” from the musical West Side Story, Gwenn Craig, Anne Kronenberg, Danny Nicolletta,  current Castro District Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, former supervisor and Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, former supervisor Carol Ruth Silver, DJ Lamont, and San Francisco’s Gay Men’s Chorus. The evening began with the words from one of Milk’s speeches, “My name is Harvey Milk, and I am here to recruit you”—set to an extended rhythmic beat. We also heard the familiar chant: “The people united shall never be defeated.” This was followed by a hug-in where strangers and friends warmly embraced. Kendell remarked that after the previous night’s electoral victories for LGBTs and progressives, “we are taking our country back!” Castro Community on Patrol handed out free safety whistles for the “Stop the Violence” campaign. But the focus of the night was the Grand Lighting of Ben Davis’ “HARVEY’S HALO, shining a constantly changing rainbow beacon of hope into the heavens, followed by the unveiling of HOPE WILL NEVER BE SILENT—produced by Illuminate (the team behind the Bay Lights and the lighting of the Conservatory of Flowers for the Summer of Love). This was the emotional Hope Speech in Milk’s words set to “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real” by the late disco diva Sylvester. Closing the ceremony was a rousing recording of Freddie Mercury and his amazing anthem, “We Are the Champions.” 

    PROJECT INFORM gave us AN EVENING OF HOPE – A Dream of No More: Getting to Zero for a festive night of cocktails, yummy food, music, education and inspiration on Veterans Day at The Lodge at the Regency Center. They featured speakers telling stories from around the country about the many ways in which Project Inform’s leadership in the HIV and hepatitis C epidemics has touched and transformed peoples’ lives. In his tenth year as PI, Executive Director Dana Van Gorder spoke of the goal of zero new deaths and zero new infections from HIV and Hepatitis C. He said, “Today, unfortunately, our work consists heavily of advocacy to prevent the Trump administration and Congress from undoing many of the key gains that have been made in the last nine years.” On a lighter note, when I mentioned there were two “Dana Vans” at the event, he remarked, “In the house, so look out!” Featured guests were Synchronicity Strings, a classical string quartet playing pop and rock tunes; Scott Wells & DancersSenator Scott Wiener, who lauded PI, took to task the Trump administration for destroying vital healthcare legislation, and then gave a Certification of Recognition from the Senate; hilarious comedian Casey Ley, HIV survivor, loud and proud gay man, and the evening’s emcee; pianist/vocalist Kitten on the Keys, whom I had the delicious pleasure to sit with, performing Blondie‘s “Dreaming” and little Shirley Temple‘s 1930s “Be Optimistic;” and for the grand finale, aerialist Gemiah Kurzfeld. CalHEP Awards were presented by Emalie Huriaux, Director of Federal and State Affairs, to Brandie Wilson, Annie Luetkemeyer, Christian Ramers, and Katie Burkprojectinform.org

    Jeff Cotter, Executive Director of RAINBOW WORLD FUND, the LGBTQ-based humanitarian aid organization, and OUT IN THE VINEYARD, presented WINE COUNTRY RISING, at Gough House, John Newmeyer‘s beautiful Victorian mansion in Pacific Heights. This was a North Bay fire victims benefit for the local LGBTQ youth and the migrant farmer/undocumented immigrant communities that survived the recent wildfires. Besides enjoying a huge selection of wines, we delighted in vocal and piano performances by Transcendence Theatre Company singers Lexy Fridell, Julie Craig, Colin Campbell McAdoo, and pianist Tina MealsDonna Sachet sang one of her charming heartwarming theme songs, “We Can Be Kind.” rainbowfund.org

    THE NORMAL HEART by Larry Kramer and directed by John Fisher finished its run at THEATRE RHINOCEROS. The play is a searing drama about public and private indifference to the AIDS plague and one man’s lonely fight to awaken the world to the crisis. Produced to acclaim in NYC, London and LA. The Normal Heart follows Ned Weeks, a gay activist enraged at the indifference of public officials and the gay community. While trying to save the world from itself, he confronts the personal toll of AIDS when his lover dies of the disease. Originally published in 1985 and celebrated in a passionate and eloquent 2011 Broadway revival. Astonishing!

    Reality TV just got real. THE GAY HUSBANDS OF SAN FRANCISCO takes a no-filter, hilarious look at today’s gay scene as it follows the lives and loves of six multi-ethnic gay men. The show was previewed at SF Oasis nightclub. Warning: This show contains adult language, sexual situations, partial nudity, protein drinks, tank tops, jock straps, white wine, kimonos, craft beer, and homemade pickles. The series was created by Adam Sandel and will be streaming soon on REVRY at www.revry.tv

    Sister Dana sez, “Let’s be THANKFUL for all these wonderful upcoming events!”

    Donna Sachet ’s SONGS OF THE SEASON, benefiting PRC/AIDS EMERGENCY FUND, returns for the 25th Anniversary Edition Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, November 27, 28, and 29 at Halcyon, 314 11th Street. If you have never attended this amazing holiday cabaret show you will be in for a real treat. The show promises you an evening filled with a variety of locally and internationally recognized and spirited entertainers—all determined to usher you into the joy and excitement of the holiday season. Performers are Sharon McNight, Kippy MarksLeanne Borghesi, Dan O’LearyBrian Kent, Kenny NelsonPaula West (Monday only), Adam Reeves (Tuesday only), and Jason Brock (Wednesday only). And, of course, the lovely and talented Donna sings and hosts as usual. (See the cover and pages 14–18 of this issue for more information.) eventbrite.co

    LIGHT IN THE GROVE, the annual fundraising gala for the national AIDS Memorial in Golden Gate Park, is on November 30 at 6 pm. Always a sell-out, “Light in the Grove” has been voted Best LGBT Gala in the Bay Area. Held on the eve of World AIDS Day, guests experience a moving candlelight reflection in the Circle of Friends, the heart of the Memorial, then walk through the spectacularly-lit Redwood Grove to a beautiful banquet. Inside, guests enjoy cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and a buffet dinner with special musical and artistic performances. The theme of this year’s World AIDS Day events is “Bending the Arc Toward Justice,” capturing the spirit of hope, determination, and resistance that has been at the foundation of the National AIDS Memorial and our community’s response to AIDS since the beginning. This year they are proud to honor Senator Mark Leno with the “Lifetime of Commitment” award. Leno is a longtime friend of the Memorial and tireless champion for civil rights, the LGBT community, and HIV/AIDS organizations. aidsmemorial.org

    Join RAINBOW WORLD FUND for the 12th Annual RWF WORLD TREE OF HOPE Tree Lighting Celebration on Monday, December 4, from 6–8 pm at San Francisco City Hall. Featuring a concert by the Grammy winning San Francisco Boys Chorus; Emcees Cheryl Jennings and Donna Sachet; Mayor Ed Lee, Linda Mihara, The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence blessing the tree, and much more. Admission is free. rainbowfund.org

    FISHERMAN’S FAMOUS SAN FRANCISCO BURLESQUE returns at the Makeout Room, 3225 22nd Street on November 30, doors 7:30 pm, show 8 pm. 20 years after its debut, Fisherman’s Famous San Francisco Burlesque returns to the stage with an all-star cast of strippers, singers, dancers, comedy, and circus acts. Tickets: pre-sale, $15 and the door, $20. For more of the story, go to fishermansfburlesque.com

    TRANSGENDER DAY OF REMEMBRANCE, to honor those we have lost and to build momentum to end the violence against trans and GNC communities, is on November 20, 5:30 pm at the LGBT Community Center, 1800 Market Street. Trans rights are being battled across the country while trans people continue to be murdered in unprecedented numbers—specifically trans women of color. TDOR is a genuine tribute to those who have lost their lives to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. This day serves to raise awareness of the abuse and violence faced by the trans community, as well as their families, friends, and cis allies. facebook.com/tdovsf

    The 3rd Annual SAN FRANCISCO EMPRESS HOLIGAY BAKE SALE is Wednesday, November 22, 6–9 pm at Lookout SF, 3600 16th Street. Net Proceeds benefit the San Francisco Empress Fund. Event organizers are Absolute Empress 43 de San Francisco Cher-A-Little & Absolute Empress 50 de San Francisco, Khmera Rouge. imperialcouncilsf.org

    Join ACADEMY OF FRIENDS at their annual HOLIDAY PARTY on November 29, 6:30–8:30 pm, 340 Post Street, and support Bay Area HIV/AIDS service organizations! Enjoy live entertainment, festive cocktails and bites prepared by the Williams Sonoma chefs while shopping for all your holiday essentials. Through the generous support of sponsor Williams Sonoma, you’ll receive 20% off all purchases during the event. academyoffriends.org

    Sister Dana sez, “Just what will it take for Congressional Repugnicans to stop taking money from the National Rifle Association and start talking about sensible gun control?!”