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    A Bit of This and That

    By Joanie Juster–

    I’m keeping my eye on a lot of issues these days—the upcoming midterm elections, book bannings, the ongoing efforts of a certain political party to simply erase entire segments of the population from the planet, climate change—but I have also made time recently to go out and see live performances and films because, well, because it’s possible again. And because they make all the other struggles worthwhile.

    The Quilt Needs You!

    Want to help preserve and maintain the AIDS Memorial Quilt? Now is your chance: volunteers are needed to help with quilt repair.

    For 35 years, panels from the Quilt have been displayed in venues large and small, indoors and outdoors, hanging or on the ground. It was designed to be modular, so that portions of it could always be on the road. But the traveling and displays also mean inevitable wear and tear on the panels. Many need some loving attention, like loose buttons or other small items that need to be sewn down firmly to avoid being lost.

    Gert McMullin and Michael Bongiorni are hosting new panel and repair workshops, and they swear you don’t need to be an expert; if you can sew a button on a shirt, they’ll put you to work. Gert, lovingly referred to as “the Mother of the Quilt,” has been with the Quilt since its beginnings in 1987. As the Quilt’s official conservator, one of her jobs is to maintain the physical integrity of the Quilt. Michael’s tenure with the Quilt goes back almost as far, as he has coordinated Quilt displays across the globe; he still can’t sew.

    The first workshop was held September 10, and they will continue on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of each month, from 12–4 pm as follows:

    2nd Saturdays: At the Quilt office at 543 Castro Street (between 18th & 19th Streets)

    4th Saturdays: At the Quilt warehouse, 130 Doolittle Drive, San Leandro 94577

    Bongiorni told how at the first workshop a group of volunteers ages 6 to 60 helped make repairs to several sections of the Quilt: “A volunteer with a needle in hand looked up from a loose photo and said, ‘I can almost hear Roberto giggling.’ Volunteers gained a deeper understand of the AIDS years, shared Quilt history, and the importance of coming together for good.”

    For more info, email Gert ( or Michael (

    Banned Books Week: Judy Blume Speaks Out

    I’m willing to bet a lot of you grew up reading Judy Blume’s classic tween novel Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret. A perennial favorite since its publication in 1970, it has also appeared on banned-books lists more frequently than almost any other book. Why? It is because of its frank and realistic portrayal of the thoughts and concerns of pre-teen girls as they navigate the challenges of puberty, menstruation, bras, boys, and religion.

    Banned Books Week is September 18–24. As the extreme right-wing escalates its assault on the freedom to read and think by banning books from schools and libraries, it was refreshing to see Blume speaking out on the issue. In an interview in AARP Magazine, she said: “We went through a period of book banning in the ’80s, and it seemed that we came out of it. And now here we are all over again. Mine get banned frequently because they are about the inner lives of tweens, and I try to really reflect the ways kids think and feel, including about puberty and sexuality. What I tell people is, ‘Unless you stand up and say why these books are important to you, they’re going to be gone. So, you’d better make your voice heard.’”

    You heard Blume. Go out and make your voice heard. Start by speaking up to your local school board, and keep speaking all the way up the line of your elected officials. The only way for us to protect freedom us to fight for it.

    “Dear Senator: You’re Invited … ”

    When the House of Representatives passed the Respect for Marriage Act on July 19, all eyes turned to the Senate to see if and when they would pass it as well. The bill would officially repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and require all states to legally recognize same-sex and interracial unions. Given the warning signals from the current right-wing Supreme Court, the bill is seen as providing necessary protections for the right to privacy, including same-sex marriage, interracial marriage, and more. With so much on the line, and the midterm elections just two months away, how do you get the attention of lawmakers?

    Why, send them a lovely invitation, of course.

    Inclusive marriage planning website Zola created an elegant wedding-style invitation that ran as a full-page ad in The Washington Post on September 13, inviting senators to codify marriage equality by voting for the Respect for Marriage Act. And just to make sure they got the message, Zola is mailing the invitation to any senator who has not publicly declared their support for the Act. 60 votes are needed to pass it in the Senate.

    Zola CEO and co-founder Shan-Lyn Ma told AdWeek, “This was really a no-brainer for us, to step up and look at how can we do everything possible to make sure that this bill passes.”

    Well done, Zola. Let’s hope the senators accept this invitation. Read all about their clever campaign here:

    To Your Queer Health! HIV/AIDS, Monkeypox, and Elders

    The Howard Grayson LGBTQ Elder Life Conference and Openhouse will co-sponsor a free hybrid event—both live and on Zoom—on Saturday, October 8, from 11 am–3 pm. The live event includes lunch, and is wheelchair accessible. The program includes a discussion of HIV and aging populations, as well as the ongoing crisis at Laguna Honda and the national response to the current MPX outbreaks.

    On the agenda are upcoming legislative goals for HIV policy as well as the U.S. response to the MPX infections happening globally. Local, state, and federal strategies will be discussed, as well as what available services exist but have not yet been well integrated. This lack of resources is an additional burden, particularly on older people who have been living through the HIV/AIDS pandemic over the past 41 years.

    Panelists will include:

    Theresa Palmer, Laguna Honda
    Dr. Monica Gandhi, Director of HIV Clinic at Zuckerberg SF General Hospital
    Vince Crisostomo, Director for HIV & Aging, San Francisco AIDS Foundation
    Vinnie Eng, Openhouse Board

    More info:

    Pasolini 100

    The Bay Area is joining in a worldwide centennial celebration of the life and work of Pier Palo Pasolini this year. An all-day mini-festival was held at the Castro Theatre on September 10, featuring screenings of Pasolini’s Mamma Roma, Accattone, Medea, and Salo, as well as Abel Ferrara’s dramatic film about Pasolini’s final days, Pasolini, starring Willem Dafoe.

    Pasolini was hugely influential as a writer, poet, filmmaker, and intellectual. But as a man who was both openly gay and proudly Marxist, he stirred controversy because he persisted in pushing the boundaries of what was considered acceptable at that time. His legacy as a queer pioneer was referenced by the consuls general of both Italy and Greece at the Castro prior to the screening of Medea, as they both acknowledged how fitting it was that Pasolini’s films were being shown in the Castro neighborhood, and particularly at the Castro Theatre.

    The celebration of Pasolini’s work continues at the Pacific Film Archive and the Berkeley Art Museum with screenings of eight of his films, October 22 through November 22. For info and tickets:

    Truth. Beauty. Freedom. Love.

    After more than two years of making do with less, of diminished expectations and smaller dreams, there is nothing like returning to the live theatre for a Really Big Show. Moulin Rouge is all that, and much, much more. It glitters, it sparkles, it roars with energy and excitement. It pulls out every stop, with eye-popping scenery, bewitching costumes, dazzling lighting, melodrama, schmaltz, and, of course, True Love.

    It’s as if they threw La Traviata, La Boheme, and Rent into a blender, added a supersized dollop of Lady Gaga and the Rolling Stones, and whirred it all together into one huge, delicious, fabulously frothy sundae, with extra cherries and glittery sprinkles on top. I went in with no expectations, and came out dancing down the street. Moulin Rouge is a bold and brilliant antidote to the grim reality around us. Sheer theatrical pizzazz can be good for your spirits. 

    Fair Time

    Folsom Street Fair (September 25) and Castro Street Fair (October 2) are both coming soon. Is it safe to go? The good news is that monkeypox infections seem to be dropping, thanks to public awareness campaigns and the greater availability of vaccines. However, monkeypox and COVID are still around. So please take appropriate precautions, folks. Have a great time, and stay safe.

    Joanie Juster is a long-time community volunteer, activist, and ally.

    In Case You Missed
    Published on September 22, 2022