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    Everything, Everywhere, All at Once

    By Joanie Juster–

    After two years of minimal opportunities to gather, to celebrate, to volunteer, to entertain or be entertained, events are back in a big way, popping up everywhere as fast as spring wildflowers. Like the current movie, it seems like we’re juggling everything, everywhere, all at once. Nobody can take part in every event (although there are some folks who certainly seem to have found a way), but there are plenty of excellent choices out there for both having fun and helping out.

    The Quilt Returns at 35: How You Can Take Part

    The National AIDS Memorial will mark the 35th anniversary of the AIDS Memorial Quilt with an outdoor display in Golden Gate Park that will feature nearly 3,000 panels of the Quilt. The free public event will take place on June 11 & 12 in Robin Williams Meadow and in the National AIDS Memorial Grove. The two-day event, presented by Gilead Sciences, will be the largest display of the Quilt in over a decade and the largest-ever in San Francisco history.

    Here are several ways to take part in this historic event; for details see https://tinyurl.com/Quilt35PC

    • Request a Panel: Would you like to request that a particular panel be displayed? A limited number of requests may be accommodated, if submitted by May 10.
    • Make a Panel: The Quilt is an ongoing project; new panels are always welcome. Panelmaking workshops will be held during May, as well as on site at the display. Visit the aforementioned website for more details.
    • Volunteer: Many hands are needed to make this display possible. Sign up now on the website.
    • Read Names: The names of people represented in the Quilt will be read continuously throughout the display on both June 11 and 12. The ceremonial reading of names is an integral part of Quilt displays, and is a deeply moving experience. Sign up on the website.

    Leather, Leather, Everywhere

    The Leather community has been out in full force lately, embracing the return of opportunities to gather in person. On April 24, crowds gathered at the Eagle for the first annual Leather Pride Flag Day. Created by Mr. Eagle Leather 2022 Ghee Phua and co-hosted by the LEATHER & LGBTQ Cultural District and the Eagle, this inaugural event brought together the Bay Area’s leather and kink community to celebrate the creation of the leather pride flag and the life of its creator, Tony DeBlase. The event was also a fundraiser for the upkeep of the leather pride flag in Eagle Plaza, and acted as a send-off for the local IML contestants.

    On May 7, the LEATHER & LGBTQ Cultural District will be celebrating its 4th birthday at Audacious Anniversary from 5–9 pm at the Folsom Street Foundry. The public is invited to this decidedly adults-only community event featuring food from MamaBear’s Kitchen, demos by four local BDSM clubs, and entertainment. Then, on May 14, the District will continue its successful run of SOMA Second Saturdays! Details of both events are on the District’s Facebook page: https://tinyurl.com/sflcd

    And the Bare Chest Calendar Finals are here at last. After two months of preliminary trials, contestants will compete on May 7 at DNA Lounge for the honor of being on the 2023 calendar. Larry Rich, coordinator for the Bare Chest Calendar, said: “It has been a challenge recruiting men for the Calendar as we exit pandemic mode, but the guys who chose to compete this year are very motivated to raise funds for our beneficiaries. We look forward to seeing them on the ‘big stage’ as we select Team 2023!”

    These men have worked hard to support the programs for PRC’s clients, who have faced urgent and increased need during COVID, and PRC’s Emergency Financial Assistance Program (formerly AEF) has seen exponential growth in need. Support them and have some fun at the finals on 5/7 at 3:30 pm. https://barechest.org/

    #Letters4TransKids

    In case you have any doubts that one person can make a difference, may I present Ina Fried, a San Francisco-based trans journalist who decided that if state legislatures all over the country were attacking trans kids, she would throw those kids a lifeline—and offer the rest of us a way to help.

    On April 10, Ina Fried tweeted, “It’s been a rough time for trans and nonbinary youth. I wanted to find a way to show them support, and #letters4transkids was what I came up with. I hope you will join me by posting a message of encouragement to these amazing young people and tagging it #letters4transkids.”

    Fried’s appeal went viral, and thousands of supportive letters have poured in from all over the world, filled with messages of love, hope, comfort, and support. You can view many of the letters on Fried’s Twitter feed (@inafried), as well as posting your own. Not on Twitter? Not to worry; you can email a photo of your letter, and she will post it for you: lettersfortranskids@gmail.com

    Kindness is free. These kids need all the love and support we can give them. Please join me in sending support to trans kids.

    Another Way to Help Trans Kids: Enter The Matrix

    Polish up your credit cards for a one-of-a-kind fundraiser to help trans kids—from the writers and directors of The Matrix, Lana and Lilly Wachowski.

    Troubled by the relentless onslaught of vicious and harmful anti-trans legislation being passed across the country, the Wachowski sisters, who are both trans women, decided to do something about it. Lilly Wachowski announced on Twitter: “Hi youse! So me and Lana have been doing some spring cleaning at our Raiders of the Lost Ark warehouse and have happily decided to pass on some of the best treasures we’ve been collecting over the years!! No ark of the covenants, but some pretty major and magical artifacts!” Enter the Matrix: The Wachowski Collection features 180 items from their films and television projects that would be the envy of any film collector. All proceeds benefit the Protect and Defend Trans Youth Fund, an organization founded in March by pop star Ariana Grande that supports a series of organizations across the country that advocate for or provide direct services for trans youth.

    Absentee bids are now being accepted, and the live auction is set to begin on Thursday, May 12. Dive into The Matrix and do some serious shopping to help trans kids: https://tinyurl.com/fMatrixFTK

    Or to donate directly to the fund (the first $1.5 million will be matched): https://tinyurl.com/PDTYF2

    Bayard Rustin Coalition Seeks Participation for New Survey

    The Bayard Rustin Coalition (BRC) is seeking help from the public for a research project survey coordinated by the California Healthcare Foundation. The purpose of the survey is to better understand the experiences and attitudes of Black Californians on quality-of life issues. The results will be used to inform public policy and academic scholarship.

    BRC is seeking the participation of California residents who identify as Black, African American, or of African descent—especially those who may have intersectional identities and perspectives not often represented in research. Intersectional identities might include, but are not limited to, community members who identify as LBGTQIA+, come from an immigrant background, are under 25 years old, or over 75 years old.

    If you live in California, identify as Black, and would like to participate in the survey, please register for the survey: https://tinyurl.com/brcchf

    Representation Matters: Yes, ANOTHER Jeopardy! Story

    You can be forgiven if you did not have the intersection of Lesbian Visibility Week and tv’s popular game show Jeopardy! on your 2022 bingo card. But it’s true: just a few weeks after the country was transfixed by the historic winning streak of trans contestant Amy Schneider, another woman is rocking Jeopardy!—a brilliant 23-year old lesbian from Canada named Mattea Roach. As of press time she has won 21 games for a total of $506,584, a remarkable streak that puts her in rarified territory among Jeopardy! champions. And with her tats, nose rings, and youthful exuberance (“I just paid off my student loans!” she gasped, after her second win), she is blazing new trails on the show that has been a bastion of mainstream American entertainment for nearly 60 years. As she said, “I guess what I didn’t realize is maybe I could become the super champion I wanted to see in the world.”

    Go out and spread some kindness, folks—the world needs more of it.

    Joanie Juster is a long-time community volunteer, activist, and ally.

    Published on May 5, 2022