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    Donna’s Chronicles, “Back in San Francisco…”

    By Donna Sachet–

    Back in San Francisco, it didn’t take long to be reminded of how special this place truly is! In short, after a 10-day self-imposed isolation and a fresh, negative COVID at-home test, we felt ready to emerge with proper precautions into the world again.

    We spent a totally unstructured afternoon with Gary Virginia that included spirited stops at 440 Castro and Moby Dick, supporting local businesses and catching up after a long separation. We popped in with Peanut to visit a friend who also lives the high-rise life, but with stunning views of the Bay Bridge and downtown, and reminisced while pondering when, if ever, this punishing pandemic will end. And we spent a carefree afternoon in Dolores Park, soft grass beneath our feet and fresh summer air in our lungs, gazing on the panoramic view of San Francisco. As if there were any doubt, we are home.

    Beautiful weather, a restless puppy, and our own longing for personal contact all led us to Flagging in the Park on Sunday.  Remarkably, flagging is not as well-known across the globe as it is here in San Francisco, where it has become a symbol of joyous freedom at many dances, street fairs, and other gatherings. Loosely defined as the skillful manipulation of brightly colored fabric swatches, flagging in the LGBTQ+ Community often includes sexy dance moves, toned bodies, and ecstatic performers. We have included flagging in several of our own performances, as far back as Reunion at City Hall during Pride, a command performance of Skyfall for Imperial Coronation several years ago, and pre-show entertainment at Chase Center for the Golden State Warriors’ first LGBTQ Night in 2019. The AIDS Memorial Grove has been the setting for periodic Flagging in the Park for years and after such a long period of social isolation, it was like a desperately needed blood transfusion! The broad grove was bathed in sunlight, several hundred smiling folks had created little encampments with blankets, coolers, and sun protection, and DJ David Harness embraced us all with glorious music. Photos and videos can only suggest the energy and beauty of swirling color, sparkling sunlight, and human connection. Among those in the grove were Xavier Caylor, Suzan Revah & Tim Mahaffey, Steven Satyricon & Andrew Darling, Ira Olney, Race Bannon & Mike Pierce, Laura Hodges & Michael Pere, Jouke Janning, and Rick LeBlanc. All this and money was raised for the Oakland LGBTQ Center!

    We end this column with words of remembrance for two gentlemen who recently died. Many warm stories will be told by those more qualified than we are of James Hormel’s expansive generosity and political acumen, but Jim had become a friend over 20 years of running into each other at events, sharing community passions, and exchanging ideas. Reading his autobiography Fit to Serve gave me an even clearer picture of the man behind the name. One personal remembrance springs to mind from 2010.  Jim had been announced as Life-time Achievement Grand Marshal of the SF Pride Parade and we were most anxious to have him attend Gary Virginia & Donna Sachet’s Pride Brunch, already a very popular event, but especially enjoyable when the Grand Marshals would come and address the crowd. In our opinion, hearing remarks from and having a chance to meet such an extraordinary local hero would be great for the attendees, most of them friends and supporters from the LGBTQ+ Community.

    When Jim said he had not planned on scheduling that Saturday morning event, we were crestfallen. When he saw our disappointment, he said he would see what he could do, but I had little hope of seeing him at Pride Brunch. After all, isn’t this the first openly Gay man to serve as an Ambassador of the United States, underwriter of the Lesbian & Gay Center of the SF Library, co-founder of HRC, and so much more? Whether it was specifically for us or because he knew the impact of a Grand Marshal appearing and speaking at this fundraiser for PRC, Jim Hormel came to Pride Brunch and our audience was engaged, inspired, and amused. Thank you, Jim.

    When Harry Denton approached us about a drag brunch in the legendary Starlight Room of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, we couldn’t quite get our head around it. We knew him from social circles and enjoyed his energy and enthusiasm for San Francisco, but would this unusual idea work? We asked for a rough run-through before the first public event, sort of an audition, to establish the basics of the show. We opened with a theme song, basically rewritten lyrics to a classic song with an upbeat tempo and room to speak directly to the audience. When we came off stage, Harry said, “You sing live?! We are going to be a hit!” And the rest is history! 12 years of weekly shows, hundreds of pleased patrons, wonderfully talented cast members, and all because this creative man, in collaboration with Michael Pagan, the Starlight Room manager, believed in us and gave us a chance. Harry Denton left the city he loved some years ago and died this week. I hope he knew how grateful we were and how much he was loved.

    In closing, make sure that friend, that relative, even that casual acquaintance knows that they are appreciated for who they are and how they make you feel. Do it today. Thanks.

    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

    Friday, August 27
    Divas & Drinks: 45th Anniversary of Dykes on Bikes® 
    San Francisco Bay Times & The Academy partner again! 
    Follow the roar of motorcycles to The Academy for this fun party 
    Donna Sachet hosts, special guests galore 
    The Academy, 2166 Market Street 
    6–10 pm 

    Tuesday, August 31 & Wednesday, September 1
    SF Gay Men’s Chorus Auditions 
    Your chance to audition to be a part of this group 
    Register online 

    Wednesday, September 8
    Golden Gate Gaymes Night
    Imperial Court of SF sponsored title event
    Help select Mr., Miss, and Mx. Golden Gate
    Lookout, 3600 16th Street
    6–9 pm

    Sunday, September 19
    Golden Gate Gaymes & Picnic
    Imperial Court of SF sponsored title event
    Outdoor competition & shenanigans
    Mariposa Bay Front Park, 824 Terry A. Francois Boulevard
    11 am–5 pm

    Sunday, September 19
    Golden Gate Finale & Crowning
    Wrap-up of contest & raffle ticket sales
    Powerhouse Bar, 1347 Folsom Street
    6–9 pm

    Published on August 26, 2021