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    Donna’s Chronicles, “We appreciate the many who noticed our absence in the last issue…”

    By Donna Sachet–

    We appreciate the many who noticed our absence in the last issue of this publication, our first missed column in years, due to a stubborn and debilitating flu, despite being fully vaccinated. We are sincerely grateful for your kind inquiries and wishes for a speedy recovery. And now … we’re back!

    Following up on four wildly successful Sunday’s a Drag shows at Club Fugazi in August, we returned on November 26 with a special holiday edition, co-starring Khmera Rouge, Dulce de Leche, and Ehra Amaya. As an added bonus, we are collecting contributions for the SF Firefighters’ Toy Drive.Club Fugazi and North Beach in general have been so welcoming and it is a joy to perform in such a historic and professional venue. We won’t leak any spoiler alerts here, but encourage you to get tickets now for our second and final holiday Sunday’s a Drag at Club Fugazi on Sunday, December 17. Those who remember the magical Miracle on Powell Street at Harry Denton’s Starlight Room won’t be disappointed and first-timers will be swept up in a holiday drag extravaganza like no other.

    The holiday season can truly begin when the Castro holiday tree lights up the neighborhood! On Monday, November 27, at the kind invitation of Castro Merchants President Terry Asten Bennett, we hosted the official lighting, as we have for so many years, surrounded by Castro residents, including lots of beaming children. A special thanks to 440 for the hot beverage in advance! With humor and an abiding optimism, we kicked off the ceremony and then introduced visiting elected officials, Mayor London Breed, State Senator Scott Wiener, and City Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, all in particularly jolly moods. The music from the Gay & Lesbian Freedom Band and the SF Gay Men’s Chorus had everyone singing along. And suddenly, as it happens every year, Santa Claus magically appeared, pushed his secret button, and lit the towering tree in the colors of the Gilbert Baker Pride Flag. Now, let’s support those merchants who gift this tree to the Castro every year!

    Following the tree-lighting, many of us strolled up the street for the 45th annual George Moscone/Harvey Milk Vigil in Harvey Milk Plaza, marking the dark day of their tragic assassinations. This annual event has fallen off the schedule of many and attendance has waned, but hundreds gathered to listen to painful remembrances and inspiring words from Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club President Jeffrey Kwong, Cleve Jones, San Diego’s Nicole Murray-Ramirez, Scott Wiener, Carol Ruth Silver, Sister Roma, and a few others. The Freedom Band and SF Gay Men’s Chorus were both on hand, providing the perfect musical accompaniment. Two very different events, back-to-back, but each uniquely Castro and with their own significance.

    One of our favorite annual events is Light in the Grove, when the AIDS Memorial Grove is magically lit up the evening before World AIDS Day and we remember the scores of people lost to this pandemic and redouble our efforts to stamp out this plague.  On November 30, we were led through the grove’s illuminated trees, past the candlelit Circle of Friends and entrancing modern dancers among the foliage and into a huge clear tent glittering with colorful decor and packed with the largest crowd we’ve seen for this event. Ethereal harp music and passed hors d’oeuvres, food stations, and bars greeted elegantly dressed guests, including Leslie Ewing, Joanie Juster, Paul Aguilar, Troy Brunet, Michael Ruppert, Kevin Ortiz, Frank Woo, Mario Diaz, Vince Crisostomo, and Dan Bernal. A short program, led by AIDS Memorial Grove CEO John Cunningham, updated the crowd on various projects, especially an effort to spread the word and mission of the Grove to other places, most recently the Southeastern United States and soon Mexico. Within a few minutes, thousands of dollars were raised. A short video revealed the shocking story of Tennessee-based AIDS advocate and the inaugural Hope & Inspiration Award recipient Lashanda Salinas; her inspiring story of state-sanctioned injustice and eventual personal triumph will linger in our mind for a very long time. Also on hand was Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis, who would speak the next day at a free World AIDS Day event in the Grove.

    Last Friday was a rare opportunity to enjoy a couple of private parties with no responsibilities, but in the delightful company of Peter Goss & Sean Pattanasuvoranun. The first party was a celebration of the 25th anniversary of David Perry & Alfredo Casuso at the historic Elks’ Club downtown, attended by the likes of Mayor London Breed, Carlos Casuso, Alfredo’s brother and Rainbow Honor Walk artist, Jim Haas, John Newmeyer, Leslie Katz, and Billy Philadelphia & Meg Mackay, who offered a lovely musical tribute to the couple. The second event was a holiday kickoff party hosted by Orkut Büyükkökten & Pablo Fischer in a historic building previously used as a chapel and now serving as a beautiful event space. We loved reconnecting with Carolyne Zinko & Dan Dieguez and several other friends, not to mentionthe sexy shirtless Santa bartenders, servers, and wish-granters.

    As the holiday season speeds into high gear, we hope you’ll find ways to look beyond your own world and give some money, some time, some energy towards worthy causes. San Francisco is full of reputable organizations working on a variety of ongoing concerns. Find what resonates with you and jump in. We all have something to give, but you have to make the effort. Happiest of Holidays to you all!

    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

    Thursday, December 7
    14th Annual Drag Queens on Ice
    Emceed by Donna Sachet and Pride Radio’s Christie James
    Paju Munro, Baby Shaques, Tara Lipsyncki, Helixer, Dusty Porn, Kylie Minono, and more all on the ice
    Safeway Holiday Ice Rink in Union Square
    6:30 pm

    Sunday, December 10
    Camp 101: Getting Schooled in Art, Politics, Drag!
    On the anniversary of José Sarria’s birthday
    Hosted by Emperor Bill Bulkley
    Emceed by Honey Mahogany
    Midnight Sun, 4067 18th Street
    4–7 pm
    Imperial Fundraiser

    Monday, December 11
    Community Menorah Lighting
    Jane Warner Plaza, Castro and Market Streets
    6 pm

    Tuesday, December 12
    Toast to the Season
    Bay Times & Golden Gate Business Association holiday party
    Celebrate with friends, hosted by Donna Sachet
    The Academy SF, 2166 Market Street
    6–10 pm

    Friday, December 15
    Kiki & Herb Holiday Show
    Hilarious camp performance
    Castro Theatre
    8 pm
    $57 & up

    Saturday, December 16
    The Roast of Graylin Thornton
    Ray Tilton event, emceed by Race Bannon & Sister Roma
    SF Eagle Tavern, 398 12th Street
    2–4 pm

    Saturday, December 16
    Slay Ride!
    Hosted by Grand Duchess Christina Ashton & Empress Cameron Stiehl-Munro
    Ducal & Imperial performers galore!
    Toad Hall, 4146 18th Street
    3–7 pm

    Saturday, December 16
    Naughty or Nice?
    The Academy Annual Holiday Party
    Hosted by Donna Sachet, pianist Russell Deason, sexy elves
    The Academy SF, 2166 Market Street
    7–11 pm

    Sunday, December 17
    Sunday’s a Drag at Club Fugazi
    Holiday show with Khmera Rouge, Mercedez Munro, Ehra Amaya, & Donna Sachet
    Produced by Patrick Rylee
    Miracle on Green Street
    11 am
    $89 & up

    Donna’s Chronicles
    Published on December 7, 2023