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    Donna’s Chronicles, “Didn’t we warn you that October is THE month for annual galas, fundraisers, and soirées, keeping the calendar jam-packed with must-attend events for so many of the worthy organizations that we cherish?”

    By Donna Sachet–

    Didn’t we warn you that October is THE month for annual galas, fundraisers, and soirées, keeping the calendar jam-packed with must-attend events for so many of the worthy organizations that we cherish? Some San Franciscans refer to the first week of September as “Hell Week” with the grand openings of both the SF Opera and SF Symphony, effectively kicking off the social season, but for us in the LGBTQ Community, the month of October requires fortitude, energy, and lots of dressy clothes, and we are here to keep you abreast of it all!

    Compassion is Universal was Shanti’s annual gala on October 3 at The Palace Hotel, celebrating 45 years of service. The evening started with cocktails where we chatted with Emperor J.P. Soto & Chris Soto, City Treasurer Jose Cisneros, Doug Waggener, Scott James, Bob Dockendorff, Clinton & Janet Reilly, Tom Nolan, and many others before entering the ballroom for the dinner and program. The Margot Murphy Women’s Cancer Inspiration Award was presented posthumously to Brisdell Hunte, dedicated Board member, by Shanti Founder Dr. Charles Garfield, and members of her family spoke beautifully of her service. The James Hormel Community Spirit Award was given to client Hulda Brown by City Supervisor Rafael Mandelman as her family and supporters cheered her humble and heart-felt acceptance speech. Executive Director of Shanti Kaushik Roy spoke passionately about the mission and accomplishments of this thriving organization, once again demonstrating what a perfect fit he is for this job. And Lenny Broberg, who has over time distinguished himself as the pre-eminent community auctioneer, took bids on a fabulous Seychelles vacation and the fund-a-need program, where donations of specific amounts from $20,000 to $100 are tied to specific vital services provided by Shanti and its partner Pets Are Wonderful Support; bids were lively and generous! Finally, State Senator Scott Wiener introduced a video tribute from Governor Gavin Newsom and then presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Dede Wilsey. Those of you with your ears to the ground may have heard some rumblings beforehand about this particular award and its recipient, but Mrs. Wilsey sailed above it all with her gracious acceptance, generous praise for Kaushik Roy, and no-nonsense dismissal of specific detractors. We shared a brief moment with her afterwards, surrounded by Willie Brown, Tom Horn, Yuri Pascarella, Timothy Wu, Matthew Goudeau, and other supporters, as a jubilant crowd of Shanti backers spilled into the clear evening air.

    The next night, we attended Bummers Ball 3, a very different kind of gala at the Castro Theater for Rocket Dog Rescue. Once again, there were silent and live auctions, the latter again skillfully orchestrated by Lenny Broberg, but this time passed savories and a much more casual, ebullient atmosphere. We enjoyed the VIP reception upstairs with friends and dog-lovers Michael Murphy & Andy Schwartz, Audrey Joseph, Richard Sablatura & Norm Claybaugh, Keith Addy, and others. Then we filed into the theatre where Brothers and Sisters, featuring members of Brothers Comatose and T Sisters, the Mark Karan Band, and Mikki Borodi kicked off the entertainment, and Margaret Belton and the Patsychords blew us away with tribute songs to the fabulous Patsy Cline. Without a doubt, the crowd was rapt with anticipation as the headliner took the stage: Emmylou Harris! She shared her love of animals and support of Rocket Dog Rescue and performed solo without band or back-up, simply strumming her guitar and singing, and bringing the house to its feet. Jasmine Blue deserves much credit for founding and continuing a unique pet rescue operation and for finding such a unique format for their annual fundraiser.

    And the next night, we re-entered the magical world of The Fairmont Hotel where Horizons Foundation’s Gala filled the halls with elegantly dressed and enthusiastically supportive LGBTQ leaders. This VIP cocktail hour is always brimming with lively guests, this year including Jewelle Gomez & Diane Sabin, Jeff Anderson & Jeff Soukiup, Ed Eishen & Jeff Lewy, Brett Andrews, Bob Hermann & Dan Joraanstad, Bud Dillon, Stuart Hills, and Chris Verdugo. Inside the Grand Ballroom we joined table hostess Chris Carnes and table mates Chris Edwards, Susan Fahey, and others as Taller Bombalele provided musical entertainment. Horizons changed things up a bit this year with a first-time emcee, Michael Tate, who demonstrated amazing dexterity with the program, the auction, and a raucous crowd. Exotic trips with luxury accommodations and elegant extras successfully tempted this assemblage to bid wildly. No specific awards were presented, but Co-Chairs Audrey Koh and Tim Murray, Francisco Buchting, Deb Stallings, and President Roger Doughty outlined the broad reach of Horizons, recent success stories, and truly staggering fundraising achievements. Horizons has its eye firmly and responsibly on the future with over 100 million dollars in promised future legacy gifts, ensuring the ongoing support of the LGBTQ Community in all its diverse beauty. Then, this crowd did what they do so well; they danced into the night to the music of legendary DJ Page Hodel.

    Sunday was the Castro Street Fair, giving us a little break from large formal gatherings and allowing us to let our hair down, if not take it off. With perfect weather and smiling crowds, this has to be one of the best Castro Street Fairs yet!

    Last Thursday, the Ken Henderson & Joe Seiler and Richmond/Ermet Aid Foundation announced proceeds of $80,000 from their recent Help is on the Way XXV: Celebrating Broadway. Beneficiaries and friends, including Larry Horowitz, Cameron Stiehl, Brent Marek, Al Treuter, Shelley Brunetti, and Beth Schnitzer, gathered at the lovely home of John Newmeyer for a brief ceremony presenting checks to Rafael House and Meals on Wheels San Francisco, and then enjoyed the music of Steve Knill, sporting his Team Kelly Clarkson jacket from his recent successful competition on The Voice. REAF knows talent; don’t miss their next big event Help is on the Way for the Holidays, Monday, December 9.

    The final annual gala covered in this column is Mighty Real, benefiting PRC last Friday night at Four Seasons Hotel. We are a bit predisposed to PRC, admittedly, but this event was outstanding in several ways. Guests first mingled during cocktail hour unhampered by silent auction tables, only solicited for raffle prize tickets by models from the Bare Chest Calendar. On the able arm of the dashingly handsome Rusty Best, we circulated with Steven Adams, Fred Bothe, Donovan Jones, Beth Feingold, Marvin Morris, John Cunningham, Gary Virginia, Susan Fahey, Rusty Gaspard, Kelly Rivera, and others, enjoying the outdoor deck with City views and the full moon rising. Michael Tate was again the emcee and auctioneer, loosening up a bit for this crowd and successfully raising money with three attractive live auction items and a fund-a-need section.  A brief video message from Dionne Warwick surprised and pleased the crowd and musical entertainment from Frenchie Davis lit up the night. CEO of PRC Brett Andrews delivered a concise update of recent successes and ongoing challenges, followed by a moving video, and remarkably recognized by name the several executive directors of other nonprofits in the room that evening. The program concluded with client awards presented by major sponsors and special recognition for Frenchie who felt compelled to regale us with another song or two, leading everyone to the dance floor to celebrate with DJ Lamont.

    Congratulations to Mr. Gay Khalil Munro and Miss Gay Amoura Teese on the completion of their year and to the winners of this year’s pageant on Saturday night: Mr. Gay Keaton Munro and Miss Gay Olive Cox. And we are confident that the future looks bright for additional contestant Andrew Hirst. The 47th Mr. and Miss Gay Pageant of the Imperial Court at Folsom Foundry was full of spirited competition, witty emcees, and memorable anniversary recognitions of past title-holders.

    The minute the pageant was over, we dashed to The Academy, where Sister Roma was being honored as a community leader and icon. Attendance was amazing, including Heklina, Pollo del Mar, Mutha Chucka, Adam Sandel, Okan Sengun, Nic Hunter, Larry Lare Nelson, Steven Quin, Emma Peel, and, of course, Paul Miller, one of the creators of The Academy. A gorgeous plexiglass case containing Roma memorabilia is now permanently housed on site.

    And finally (sorry for the lengthy column!), after entertaining another special group from the San Francisco Bay Times at Sunday’s a Drag, we spent Sunday afternoon at a no-holds-barred birthday party for Gary Rahlf, fondly known as The Queen, surrounded by friends from across the globe. It was a reunion of many friends who have fought side by side on so many fronts and who share Gary’s love of his community. All Hail The Queen!

    Can’t wait to see you at Chase Center for LGBT Night with the Warriors, Wednesday, October 30! Yes, we are performing at half-time with members of the SF Gay Men’s Chorus, SF Flaggers, and volunteers who will unfurl one of Gilbert Baker’s original rainbow flags! Don’t miss it!

    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

    Every Sunday
    Sunday’s a Drag!
    The Starlight Room
    Sir Francis Drake Hotel
    10:30 am Brunch, 11:30 am Show
    $75 inclusive

    Friday, October 18
    REUNION: Chosen Family
    GLBT Historical Society’s annual gala
    Ohana Floor, Salesforce Tower, 415 Mission Street
    6–9 pm
    $150 & up

    Friday, October 25
    This Old Bag: Buy a Purse, Change a Life
    Breast Cancer Emergency Fund’s annual gala
    Fairmont Hotel
    6:30 pm

    Saturday, October 26
    Daytime Disco Tea Dance
    Brian Kent presents with DJ Wayne G
    Virgin Hotel Rooftop
    1–6 pm

    Wednesday, October 30
    Warriors’ LGBT Night
    Chase Center
    7:30 pm
    $75 & up