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    Donna’s Chronicles, “Loyal readers of ‘Donna’s Chronicles’…

    By Donna Sachet–

    Loyal readers of “Donna’s Chronicles”may turn to this column for its coverage of major San Francisco events, from Imperial Coronation and Opening Night of the Opera to the celebration of marriage equality at City Hall and community building gatherings at the Castro Theatre. But there are times when this columnist enjoys smaller, more personal events that also reflect the beautiful moments and personal connections that continue to represent the LGBTQ+ Community in San Francisco.

    On Friday, March 8, Gary Virginia and Deana Dawn hosted a party for Rita Rockett, now living in Hawaii, but for years one of San Francisco’s hardest working and most loving volunteers, spending much of her spare time embracing those facing AIDS in the early years of the pandemic. In the years when the President of the United States was still unwilling to bring attention to this growing emergency health crisis, even refusing to use the word AIDS in public, Rita was hosting brunches in the AIDS Ward of SF General Hospital, offering hugs and a sympathetic ear to those ostracized by their families, and helping to spread factual information about the disease. Friends of Rita’s over decades of volunteer hours gathered at 440 Castro to reminisce, to celebrate, and to show appreciation for this very special lady. A short program highlighted her important work and showered Rita with love. This was no blockbuster event, but it raised $700 for PRC’s Emergency Financial Assistance Fund, was so San Francisco, and overflowed with genuine affection.

    Later that night, we shared some bittersweet moments at Catch on its last weekend in business. Sanjay Gujral owned and operated this popular Castro restaurant for many years, offering excellent cuisine, attentive service, and a warm and welcoming ambiance. But for a host of reasons, we are losing another beloved local business and we will personally miss one of our favorite places to dine. So, over a delicious meal and a couple of glasses of wine shared with this paper’s Co-Publisher Betty Sullivan and dynamic local leader Dr. Marcy Adelman, we said goodbye, but not before joining Dr. Dee Spencer on the piano for a loving serenade. Again, this was a more intimate evening with personal significance.

    The next night certainly drew more people, but also had a distinctly personal connection. New Conservatory Theatre Center hosted the premiere of popular local writer Jewelle Gomez’s play Unpacking in P’town. We’ve known Jewelle for some time now, but have never experienced her words spoken in a play on stage, so this was a special delight. Everything from the sets, excellent actors, and musical moments contributed to a great evening, but Jewelle’s wit, honesty, and sometimes sly innuendos were the heart of the production. At the Champagne reception afterwards, we caught up with Artistic Director Ed Decker, Jewelle’s partner Diane Sabin, friends Jorge Hernandez & Ron Jenkins and Chuck Louden, and actor Matt Weimer who is in the play and with whom we once shared the theatrical stage. Sharing the evening with good friends Betty Sullivan and Michelle Jester made it a perfect night, significant artistically and memorable personally.

    We spent the evening of the Academy Awards at our own Academy, the private club on Market Street that has opened a whole new menu of experiences to members and guests alike. In the company of about a hundred friends, we co-hosted the Oscar viewing with club owner Paul Miller, handing out personalized Oscars to attendees during the commercial breaks. While those on the television offered little in the way of opulent fashion or witty dialogue, other than host Jimmy Kimmel, a mix of local dedicated watchers and more casual observers made for an enjoyable night for all, far from the over-the-top Hollywood extravaganza.

    Last weekend, we shared laughs and cocktails at Midnight Sun on Saturday and 440 on Sunday, both at fundraisers hosted by Gary Virginia. On Saturday, Krewe de Kinque and King Robert Makowka & Queen Vivianne Vixen-Rose welcomed Carly Ozard for a release party for her new original song “We Have a Dream.” Expect to hear this tune far and wide, joining other anthems that lift our community up and adding to Carly’s already extensive musical career. With performer tips and a raffle, an enthusiastic group of friends raised money for Dr. Nas Mohamed’s Alwan Foundation, providing legal and other assistance to immigrant asylum seekers. Great music and a great cause!

    During The Academy SF’s Oscar Party on Sunday, March 10, co-emcee Donna Sachet, Empress XXX, presented to Emperor LI Michael Chua a high-fashion thank you card featuring Donna herself wearing a red gown, of course, and cape.
    Photo by Rink

    On Sunday, we turned our attention to the only openly Gay American Legion Post 448 for a celebration of veterans and fundraiser. Commander Jimmy McConnell brought collectors’ teddy bears donated by the late Al Aiden for a lively auction conducted by Gary. That, in addition to raffle tickets and performer tips, raised over $1000 for Post 448, while providing a special opportunity to recognize the sacrifices and dedication of our Gay Veterans.

    So, as you can see, not every week is filled with gargantuan galas. Sometimes, we have chances to spend time with cherished friends in familiar locales for worthy causes. Ask around; opportunities abound.

    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, March 29
    Divas & Drinks @ The Academy SF
    “A Night to Empower the Legacy of Del Martin & Phyllis Lyon”
    Featuring a first look at the documentary-in-progress
    The Day the Curtains Came Down
    Guest host Kate Kendell plus Mandy Carter, Sarah Bush Dance Project,
    emcee Donna Sachet, DJ Rockaway, and special guests!
    The Academy SF, 2166 Market Street
    6–10 pm

    Friday, March 31
    Easter in the Park
    Annual Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence event
    Emcees Honey Mahogany & Sister Roma
    Hunky Jesus, Foxy Mary, & Easter bonnet contests
    Dolores Park

    Donna’s Chronicles
    Published on March 21, 2024