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    ‘A Night to Empower the Legacies of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon’ Raises Funds to Help Complete Documentary

    Women’s History Month wrapped up with “A Night to Empower the Legacies of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon,” held as part of the Divas & Drinks event series co-presented by the San Francisco Bay Times and The Academy SF. It served as a fundraiser for The Day the Curtains Came Down, a documentary in production concerning the last years of LGBTQ+ activist Phyllis Lyon and her team of queer caregivers. The event, held on March 29 at The Academy SF, raised thousands of dollars to help Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Deborah Svoboda complete the project.

    Photos by Rink
    Photo by Rink

    Svoboda was in the house, along with Producer Susan Berston. Kate Kendell of The California Endowment and former Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights hosted with emcee Donna Sachet. Activist Mandy Carter, who worked closely with Lyon and Martin and is an inductee of the International Federation of Black Prides’ Black LGBT Hall of Fame, traveled across the country for this event.

    Carter is an internationally known leader in civil rights and social justice work, which she continues through her heavy schedule of appearances throughout the U.S. She recounted her strong connection to Lyon and Martin and their legacy. Kendell also shared memories, including how Carter influenced her work and about when Lyon and Martin became the first same-sex couple to legally wed in San Francisco. (Kendell was instrumental in making their marriage possible. The wedding took place six months before Martin’s passing.)

    The mighty GLIDE Ensemble, with Minister Marvin K. White joining in, performed “Love Train” and “Unspeakable Joy,” with the hundreds of guests in attendance singing along. Lyon and Martin worked with GLIDE and were life-long supporters of the organization.

    A poignant moment during the program was the introduction and acknowledgement of members of the Lyon caregiving team in attendance: Carrie Schell, JerryLee Abram, Lacey Johnson, Tomi Knutson, Nik Kurtz, Dottie Lux, Elena Selk, and Svoboda. Each spoke about their experience and received presentation bouquets in addition to rounds of applause. Maryam Eljauouhari, Mel Buslach, and Els di Maria Sofia were also on the caregiving team, but could not attend the March 29 event that included a first look at the documentary-in-progress.

    Photo by Patrick Carney

    Denise Heitzenroder spoke on behalf of the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women and shared information about the upcoming “Shift Happens” Women’s Policy Summit. Andrew Shaffer of the GLBT Historical Society Museum & Archives also spoke, mentioning the museum’s extensive collection of Lyon and Martin artifacts.

    The Sarah Bush Dance Project’s Sarah Bush and Frances Sedayao awed the crowd with their beautiful and romantic dance rendition to Lyon and Martin’s favorite song, “Tenderly” by Rosemary Clooney. DJ Rockaway, presented by Olivia Travel, led the After Party, with several members of the Dykes on Bikes© attending along with numerous other LGBTQ community leaders.

    Fundraising to support the documentary continues with contributions spurred by the Divas & Drinks event still coming in. Use the donation link: 

    Or write to the San Francisco Bay Times for more information:

    Special thanks to our matching donor, philanthropist Anne Dorman. We wish to thank all those who helped with the event as volunteers, including Juan R. Davila who appeared as “The Bunny” and egg prize salesman, and Warren Alderson and Steve Scheitlin, whose longstanding assistance is vital to the success of Divas & Drinks.

    Thank you also to the Divas & Drinks ongoing sponsors: Olivia Travel, Extreme Pizza, Bacardí, the San Francisco Federal Credit Union, ellaprint, and the Dykes on Bikes© San Francisco Chapter. Thanks also to photographers Rink, Patrick Carney, Debra Reabock, and Amaya Edwards.

    And finally, special thanks to the Presenting Sponsor for the March event—Comcast/Xfinity, and Alex Yeon of the Comcast team. He made his debut appearance at Divas & Drinks.

    Mark your calendar for Thursday, April 25, when Divas & Drinks will return to The Academy SF with another fabulous evening.

    Published on April 4, 2024