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    Sister Dana Sez,”Well it’s Pride Month!”

    By Sister Dana Van Iquity

    Sister Dana sez, “Well, it’s PRIDE MONTH now. Everything is about queer pride. Pride Pride Pride! Does this mean come July we have to celebrate shame?! Nope! There’ll still be a little pride left over!”

    We joined San Francisco’s LGBTQ community at the Castro Theatre in an extremely moving CELEBRATION OF LIFE for GILBERT BAKER—a beloved artist, visionary, activist, and self-described “Gay Betsy Ross”—who, in 1978, hand-dyed and stitched together eight strips of vibrantly colored fabric into a rainbow flag, instantly creating an enduring international symbol of gay pride. The event began with several SF Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence unrolling colored ribbons from the back of the auditorium, rolling them down the aisles, and gathering them into a huge bow in front of the stage. Sister Dana chose the yellow ribbon in honor of her very first duty at the 1985 Gay Pride Parade as the nun in yellow habit and veil, Sister Citroen Ma Face, as one of the six colors of Gilbert’s rainbow flag. And, also dignifying his alter ego as a nun in the 70’s, we sainted his Sister being as Saint Chanel xxXXXxx. Host Paul Gabriel welcomed everyone and introduced Jerome Goldstein, co-organizer with husband Tom Taylor (guardian of the giant rainbow flag in Harvey Milk Plaza), both very close friends of Baker, to tell tales of Gilbert. The Gay Men’s Chorus performed the Hawaiian version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “True Colors” and “Truly Brave.” We watched an impressive video, “The Birth of the Flag” and also “Life of the Rainbow Flag,” with comments between by Baker’s dear compadre, activist Cleve JonesDonna Sachet sang the beautiful “We Can Be Kind,” followed by stirring speeches by Mark Leno (candidate for SF mayor), Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, and Senator Scott Wiener. The final rainbow banner of Baker’s recent construction was unveiled with the bold black words: “RISE AND RESIST!” inscribed. The Thrillpeddlers and Kitten on the Keys sang and danced “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” featuring Ruby Vixen, and they all sang “Reach for the Stars” from Club Inferno, featuring Peter Fogel & John Flaw. Closing out the evening perfectly was our own Judy Garland impersonator, Connie Champagne, singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Then everyone gathered upstairs in the mezzanine for drinks, finger foods and lively conversations about the late great Gilbert/Chanel.

    ARTSAVESLIVES Castro Gallery and Performance Space presented “JUNE PRIDE SHOW” at the studio—featuring the many Gay Pride Parade oil paintings (both protests and celebrations from 2010 forward) throughout by Alan Beckstead—as well as twenty other talented artists’ pieces now on display all June Pride Month at 518 Castro Street. Some of my favorites: portraiture of personalities larger than life (such as Peaches Christ) by Ashlynn Danielsen; action figures, anti-White House people pieces, and a kaleidoscope with a nod to the SF ’60s Summer of Love by Michael Lownie; found objects recycled into art with a robotic feeling by Gregory Conover; the amazing photography of J.B. Higgins; wire sculptures of various faces by Karl Howard; and the modern art of Jerry Frost, which has branched out lately to include figures in his pieces.

    Performing on the night of the reception were Magnolia Black belting out bodacious numbers; Rachael El illustrating in modern dance: “This is my body, and I will be at war with it no more;” Nick James, a contortionist/acrobat swinging from a trapeze and precariously hanging by his jaw; dancer extraordinaire Jose Cital whirling and twirling and stripping down to a glittery one-piece; and performing emcee Elemeng Ezlipsp who sang Lady GaGa‘s “You and I.” As usual, guests enjoyed complimentary food and beverages served all night long. The gallery is open most days, and on Wednesdays and Thursdays, owner/curator/artist Thomasina DeMaio offers live models for figure drawing sessions.

    HONOR THEM WITH ACTION” was a remembrance of the Orlando tragedy at Pulse nightclub a year ago, a quiet commemoration that was held at Castro and 18th Streets on Monday, June 12, 6:30–7:30 pm. We saw members of the Castro Community on Patrol, Castro merchants, Latinx and Trans folk and clergy—as well as the general public who have not forgotten. The event was not formal and no speakers were planned, but there was a renewed commitment to take action, both individually and collectively, to help end anti-LGBTQ bias and bigotry in our community, our country, and around the world. Also scheduled was a “reading of the names”—starting with the 49 victims at Pulse, but including the 12 transgender people we know who have died from violence across the U.S. in 2017, as well as the Ghost Ship Fire victims in Oakland.

    Sister Dana sez, “Now that TV’s Batman [Adam West] has died, WHO will keep us safe from those truly terrible terrors, the Orange Oligarch Ogre and his sick sidekick the Putinator?!”

    Sister Rosemary Chicken, Sister Desi Love, and Sister Dana performed a satirical skit live at Piano Fight bar and stage in the Tenderloin. It was a takeoff of the Gloria Gaynor disco hit, “I Will Survive”—rewritten as a protest song to the same tune but with new lyrics for “I Will Survive Trump.” No rotten vegetables were thrown.

    The SF GAY MEN’S CHORUS, of over 200 talented men under the baton of conductor and fellow San Francisco Bay Times columnist Dr. Timothy Seelig, presented “THE GAY KITCHEN SINK,” which did indeed include every kind of music AND the kitchen sink. Their special guests at the Nourse Theatre were THE KINSEY SICKS, a dragapella beauty shop quartet giving us gorgeous harmonies with a mixture of humor and serious emotion. The ladies are Winnie, Rachel, Trixie and Tram Po Lina. The Chorus sang a variety of songs, starting out with music representing the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. Act two included songs of many divas including Beyonce, Cyndi Lauper, Lady Gaga, Taylor SwiftPatsy Cline, and Madonna. There were lines and lines of dancers and clever choreography and costumes galore! The Chorus announced their summer tour to the “red states” of hate in order to educate with love and song. They will perform at Grace Cathedral on September 29, and then during their holiday show at the Nourse Theatre on December 8 and 9—as a tease for the Christmas Eve concert at the Castro Theatre.


    For the month of June, STRUT is having a very special art opening for an artist coming all the way from Venezuela for Pride month. Strut is exhibiting the work of visual artist, activist, writer and international gay rights advocate DANIEL ARZOLA! The Art at Strut program has been exhibiting the work of a local Gay or Queer artist once a month for over 13 years; it has always been an important part of Magnet. Arzola’s work has been reviewed by press from countries all over the world including Al Jazeera, The Huffington Post, Out Magazine, and The Advocate. Arzola participated in Madonna’s project “Art for Freedom,” and was the only artist to have five of his works selected for the project’s global release; two of those works were selected by Katy Perry. Arzola won the Human Rights award 2016 at the International Queer and Migrant Film Festival of Amsterdam for his theory of ARTIVISM and the impact of his work.

    The girls are back in town in the uproarious drag send-up of HBO’s beloved series SEX AND THE CITY. Get your fix, with two fabulous episodes that pay loving tribute to the iconic show. Laugh and gasp out loud as these four young “women” search for the perfect relationship in between plenty of cosmopolitans. The show features four of San Francisco’s most fabulous drag stars: D’Arcy Drollinger, Sue Casa, Lady Bear and Steven LeMay playing homage to Carrie and the gang. With special guest star, Drag King legend, Leigh Crow as Mr. Big. Darren Star (creator of the HBO show) described this version as “funnier than it was on TV,” so you know you’re in for a delightful night. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, now through July 1 at Oasis, 298 11th Street. I’m a Samantha!

    THE HARVEY MILK PHOTOGRAPHY CENTER is offering their LGBTQ PRIDE EXHIBITThis year’s exhibit, sponsored by the San Francisco Bay Times, is in collaboration with the wishes of Gilbert Baker, designer of the international symbol to the world of gay pride, the iconic RAINBOW FLAG, says Dave Christensen, Director/Curator of the Harvey Milk Photo Center. In addition to Gilbert’s choices, they have invited artists, writers, and photographers to exhibit this special show—running through July 23 at Harvey Milk Photo Center, 50 Scott Street, San Francisco.

    TRANS MARCH: CELEBRATING RESILIENCE WITH LOVE & RESISTANCE is on June 23, noon–8 pm in Dolores Park, 19th and Dolores Street. Organizers say: “Our rights and existence have been more intensely under attack since the election, so it’s even more critical that we gather this year to fight back, resist, celebrate, and create community. Let’s make this a huge showing of how powerful and incredible we are!”

    The 25th annual SAN FRANCISCO DYKE MARCH starts off in Dolores Park on Saturday, June 24, at 5 pm for speeches, a rally, and then marching towards the Castro. Organizers say: “This year, the San Francisco Dyke March is a call to action. Do not mistake it for something else. We’re calling all. Dykes. To show up. To take up your space. To fight against our erasure by being visible in a nation that says there’s no place for us. To be visible in our community. To be visible in our love for one another.

    Rated by many as their favorite event during SF Pride weekend, Gary Virginia & Donna Sachet‘s 19TH ANNUAL PRIDE BRUNCH honors the Grand Marshals of the SF LGBT Pride Parade and affords guests a rare opportunity to meet and hear them speak. The three-hour, spectacular benefit starts with rousing musical entertainment by the Dixieland Dykes +3, hosted bars by Barefoot Wine & Bubbly and Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and the Grand Ballroom festooned with rainbow bunting, balloons, and florals. Proceeds support SF-based POSITIVE RESOURCE CENTER. Held on Saturday, June 24, 11am–2 pm at Hotel Whitcomb, 1231 Market Street.

    SAN FRANCISCO BAY TIMES readers and friends are invited to join our contingent in the San Francisco Pride Parade 2017 (see this issue for more information). We hope you will join us during this very meaningful year to show our Pride together. Sister Dana will again be the rainbow nun—waving and blowing kisses and giving peace signs to the crowd below!

    Sister Dana sez, “Just like T-rump, Attorney General Jeff “Beau No Regard for Truth” Sessions has taken no interest whatsoever in Russia hacking our democracy!”