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    Donna’s Chronicles, “Way back in February, when we looked at the upcoming calendar for June…”

    By Donna Sachet–

    Way back in February, when we looked at the upcoming calendar for June, we seriously considered planning a trip out of town.  The lingering pall of the pandemic, although briefly promising a respite, left little hope of a month like those we have cherished for so many years, celebrating the LGBTQ+ Community in all its beautiful diversity. Then, SF Pride announced that we would have a Parade & Celebration! Within weeks, related events were scheduled, virtual activities were converted to in-person, and the excitement of returning to active socialization became contagious. By the time June arrived, we were so glad that those plans out of town never came about. To quote a line from the musical Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel, “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over!”

    Sister Roma hosted Heels for Hope, on June 4, an engaging variety show at Marines’ Memorial Theatre with a full house, benefiting Maitri. This residential care facility has long provided compassionate care for those living with AIDS and is now addressing the unique needs of those undergoing gender transformation. Performers FC Sierra, Amelia Anna Quintet, Marcus J. Paige Fou Fou Ha, and Helena Levin entertained the crowd, but the showstopper was Executive Director Michael Armentrout in red heels to encourage bidding on the auction and other donations. “Only this one time,” he promised. They raised over $100,000!

    The Business of Pride at the Four Seasons Hotel on June 9 celebrated the many companies and individuals in the Bay Area that set themselves apart with LGBTQ+ sensitive programs, affiliate groups, and positive action. It was a veritable Who’s Who of the business world and the networking was non-stop. We were proud to see friends Brett Andrews, Craig Zodikoff, Michele Bettencourt, Akirra Jackson, Sean Livingston, and Gayle Roberts among the many honorees. The highlight of the evening, notwithstanding an unexpected fire alarm that required a quick evacuation and regrouping, was the presentation of the Selisse Berry Legacy Award by Selisse herself to Co-Founder of the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center, Joe Hawkins.  His candid and unabashed acceptance speech drew complete attention and thunderous applause.

    In case you missed the memo, Judy Garland would have been 100 years old this year and so The Academy hosted a coterie of “Friends of Dorothy” for a fun evening on June 10. Russell Deason started off singing and playing the keyboard, we emceed and hosted, but the evening belonged to incredible performer Connie Champagne as Judy Garland, accompanied by Katy Stephan. The audience swooned to every popular song and even a few written well after her demise, but somehow terribly appropriate. Didn’t Amy Winehouse and Judy have a lot in common? It was delightful trip down memory lane!

    The following night, June 11, we had the great privilege of performing with the Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band under the baton of Guest Artistic Director Dee Spencer.Spotlight on Hollywood gave the band a chance to explore the many theme songs and mood music behind popular films and they never sounded better! The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts provided high ceilings for wonderful full sound, but intimate cabaret tables and lighting for a more personal experience. Midway through the concert, solo instrumentalist and singers provided a true cabaret feeling, including vocalist Mike Wong from the band, and a lively auction included a handmade quilt donated by Judy Sims Billings, the sister of the creator of the band, Jon Sims. The most highly anticipated guest performer was Renée Lubin of Beach Blanket Babylon fame who brought the house down with a haunting Miss Celie’s Blues and a rousing tribute to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.We rounded the night out with sing-alongs to favorite cinema songs while deftly managing multiple costume changes. 

    Glitter Worthy, the creation of Celso Dulay & Chris Knight,hosted a dazzling fashion show at The Academy on June 17 to showcase their latest creations of whimsical, yet topical novelty tees, jackets, jogging ensembles, and more. The outdoor garden proved the perfect place for the crowd to ogle this line and the models. We applaud Celso and Chris’ commitment to producing distinctive clothing with attention to the community. The night wrapped up with a fast-paced and very entertaining drag show starring Mercedez Munro, Paju Munro, BeBe Sweetbriar, Laundra Tyme, and Cassidy LeBlance.No wonder they are some of the busiest gals in town; their talent that night was amazing!

    SF Opera hosted its Pride Night on June 18 with a stunning performance of Don Giovanni. Not only do we have a world-class opera company in San Francisco, but also one that chooses to embrace the LGBTQ+ Community, offering a post-performance get-together on the third floor of the Opera House with gorgeous architectural elements, subtle rainbow lighting, and pop music to lighten up the crowd. We were thrilled to be joined by visiting Empress of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Joan E., whose love of opera served her well in the impromptu Lip Sync for Your Life competition, which she handily won.

    We finished off the weekend first at The Fairmont Hotel for Queens on Top, a boisterous drag brunch hosted by Sister Roma, with DJ Juanita MORE!,and a powerhouse cast of Dulce de Leche, Bionka Simone, Mahlae Balenciaga, Madd Dog, and Reigning Empress Ehra Amaya.With tasty rainbow themed cuisine and the excellent company of Demetri Hayes, Jan Wahl, and Suzanne Ford,how could we go wrong?

    That night we attended the return of the crowd-pleasing Fairy Tales, a Broadway Bares styled show produced by the Richmond/Ermet Aid Foundation. After a two-year absence, this show was simply the best yet, professionally executed, wonderfully danced and acted, colorful costuming and special effects, with an easy, sensible storyline, oh … and lots of beautiful bodies! The crowd was rapturous in their appreciation. Next year, get your tickets early and a location near the stage for maximum benefit! Don’t miss it!

    With another space allocation hovering around us, we end this column with the spirit that always captures us during Pride Month, a spirit that is the envy of so many more restricted places and that we should never take for granted. Yes, there will be a live and in-person Pride Brunch on Saturday, June 25, at the Westin St. Francis in Union Square! Yes, there will be an SF Pride Parade on Sunday, June 26! And yes, we want to see each and every one of you out and about proudly representing this beautiful LGBTQ+ Community we have come to love so much! Happy Pride!

    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 empsachet@gmail.com


    Calendar a/la Sachet

    Thursday, June 23
    Divas & Drinks President’s Party
    Bay Times Pride party
    Hosted by Donna Sachet
    Featuring SF Pride President Carolyn Wysinger, Mayor Breed
    DJs Christie James and Rockaway, Bacardí specialties
    The Academy, 2166 Market Street
    $15
    https://www.academy-sf.com/

    Friday, June 24
    An Evening with Donna Sachet
    Music, drinks, & conversation
    The Academy, 2166 Market Street
    7 pm
    $20
    https://www.academy-sf.com/

    Saturday, June 25
    Gary Virginia & Donna Sachet’s 24th Annual Pride Brunch
    Gourmet brunch, Grand Marshals, entertainment, auction
    Benefits PRC
    Westin St. Francis Hotel ballroom
    11 am–2 pm
    $150 & up
    https://prcsf.org/

    Sunday, June 26
    SF Pride Parade & Celebration
    Market Street & Civic Center
    10 am
    Free!
    https://sfpride.org/

    Wednesday, July 13
    Final Words, SF Gay Men’s Chorus
    Final concert led by Dr. Tim Seelig, Artistic Director
    With the SF Symphony & Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir
    Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Avenue
    7:30 pm
    $150 & up
    https://www.sfsymphony.org/

    Published on June 23, 2022