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    Donna’s Chronicles, “1906 Earthquake & Fire at Lotta’s Fountain…”

    By Donna Sachet–

    Once again, we attended the pre-dawn commemoration of the tragic 1906 Earthquake & Fire at Lotta’s Fountain on April 18 to hear a vivid recounting of those dark days and how the city came together to recover and rebuild. This year’s ceremony was dedicated to the late Dianne Feinstein and was attended by the honorable Willie Brown, Fire Chief Jeanine Nicholson, Police Chief William Scott, and acting Mayor Joel Engardio, and emceed by popular SF native Bob Sarlatte. As always, Donna Higgins appeared as Lillie Coit, joined by many others in period costume. At exactly 5:12 am, everyone joined in a moment of silence for the many lives lost, followed by the wailing of fire engine sirens, this year accompanied by the howling of our little puppy Peanut. As we continue to bounce back from COVID-19 and many other factors that have negatively impacted our city, the recovery from the 1906 Earthquake & Fire stands as a clear reminder of the resilience, determination, and ingenuity of San Francisco. 

    We then found ourselves thrown into a barrage of annual galas, starting with one of the most beautifully produced and delightful to attend, the Show of Hope, benefiting San Francisco Community Health Center, emceed by ABC-7’s Reggie Aqui at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero. We joined Gary Virginia and hundreds of elegantly dressed guests for a lively cocktail hour in the lobby and then filed into a gorgeously decorated ballroom for an inspirational program of speakers and awards. Dr. Anthony Fauci received the Health Justice Award and accepted by video and AsiaSF received the Community Impact Award, as well as ending the program with a sampling of their tremendous talents in a rousing musical number. Among the crowd were the Reigning Empress Linda Summers, Zoe Dunning, Larry Hashbarger, Juanita MORE!, Mr. David, Tita Aida, Roger Doughty, Brett Andrews, and Evan Low. Every detail of this gala was perfectly executed, from the delectable meal and sparkling decor to the focused speeches, inspiring videos, and exciting live auction. Executive Director Lance Toma should be very proud of this 38th annual Show of Hope.

    Next up was Soirée, the LGBT Community Center’s annual gala at City View in the Metreon, hosted by Sister Roma and Honey Mahogany with style and wit. Once again, we joined Gary Virginia, Jeff Cotter, Marcelo Acevedo, Michael Chua, and others, this time at a table hosted by Gary Nathan & David Gin.The program included updates from Executive Director Rebecca Rolfe (recently announced as a Grand Marshal of the 2024 SF Pride Parade),an engaging live auction by Michael Tate, emotionally moving videos, and several awards. The formal program was followed by a less formal after-party with music from DJ LadyRyan and entertainment curated by Juanita MORE! City View is a unique venue including a spacious outdoor deck surrounded by San Francisco’s skyline, perfect for catching up with other guests like Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Catherine Stefani, City Treasurer Jose Cisneros, Daniel Lurie, and Ehra Amaya, as colorfully dressed celebrants swirled to the music.

    April’s Divas & Drinks at The Academy SF celebrated the birthdays of Bay Times Co-Publisher Betty Sullivan and this humble columnist. SF Pride’s Suzanne Ford and Nguyen Pham assisted with emceeing for the night, relieving us of our normal duties, as birthday wishes arrived from the SF Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band under the direction of Mike Wong, the Dykes on Bikes, and many thoughtful individuals. The SF Giants, represented by Iowayna Peña, Director of Real Estate Development and Government Affairs, presented each of us with a personalized team jersey. Even inclement weather could not dissuade attendees from celebrating with us and additional birthday girl Selisse Berry and dancing into the night to the sounds of DJ Rockaway.

    We shall end this column with last Saturday’s Crescendo, the SF Gay Men’s Chorus’ annual gala at the Westin St. Francis, attended by the best dressed crowd yet. Accompanied by Patrick Rylee, we started with cocktails in a glorious architectural gold room, leading to dinner in the main ballroom, where Co-Chairs Sally Kay and Vinney Le welcomed the crowd and introduced a packed program with speakers, awards, choral performances, auction, and videos. Artistic Director Jake Stensberg and CEO Chris Verdugo both spoke powerfully and auctioneer Michael Tate once again demonstrated his skill with humor, offering incredible trips and experiences. (We nearly scooped up the Adele package, but were outbid generously.) The Nancy Pelosi Ally Award was presented to Governor Gavin Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who provided a videotaped personal thanks in their absence. The Visionary Award went to chorus member Terrence Chan, whose generous lead gift made possible the beautiful Chan Queer Arts Center that the chorus now owns. We enjoyed moments with Tom Horn, Cammy Blackstone, Dan Bernal, Derek Barnes, and so many others. When all was said and done, it was announced that one million dollars had been raised that night! Yes, it was an extraordinary event with $500 tickets, major corporate sponsors, generous bidders, and a well-established base of supporters, but that dollar result is nothing short of amazing. It should serve as a tremendous show of support for this wonderful musical group and its ongoing mission.

    Donna Sachet is a celebrated performer, fundraiser, activist, and philanthropist who has dedicated over two decades to the LGBTQ Community in San Francisco. Contact her at

    Calendar a/la Sachet

    Sunday, May 12
    Mother’s Day
    Treat the Mom in your life to something special
     … and be glad she is still with you

    Thursday, May 16
    Memory Keepers Initiative
    Chan National Queer Arts Center, 170 Valencia Street
    Panel discussion about SF Gay Men’s Chorus’ 46 years
    7 pm
    Pay as you can

    Saturday, May 18
    Spotlight on Animation and Video Games
    SF Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band concert
    Guest starring Leanne Borghesi & Donna Sachet
    Grand Theatre, 2665 Mission Street
    7 pm

    Sunday, May 19
    Harvey Milk Day

    Monday, May 20
    One Night Only: The Diva’s Toast
    Richmond/Ermet Aid Foundation
    Touring cast of Funny Girl
    Melissa Manchester, Bruce Vilanch, & more
    Marine Memorial Theater, 609 Sutter Street
    7:30 pm
    $40 & up

    Donna’s Chronicles
    Published on May 9, 2024