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    Memory Keepers Initiative: Centering Black Trans Joy

    The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, the nation’s premier queer chorus, will explore local queer history with “Centering Black Trans Joy,” the second program of the Memory Keepers Initiative. Hosted by Co-Executive Directors of the Transgender District Breonna McCree and Carlo Gomez Arteaga, and featuring Sharyn Grayson, Andrea Horne, and Fresh Lev White, “Centering Black Trans Joy” will be presented at SFGMC’s home, The Chan National Queer Arts Center (170 Valencia Street) on Thursday, February 29, at 7 pm. In an effort to make this event accessible to all, it is “pay what you can.”

    The Memory Keepers Initiative is an oral history project that uplifts and preserves the stories of our community’s visionary LGBTQ+ elders in order to foster intergenerational connection among LGBTQ+ communities and allies, as well as inspire a bigger, brighter future by learning and understanding of our collective history.

    The Transgender District, which will be a subject of discussion during the event, is the first legally recognized transgender district in the world. Originally named the Compton’s Transgender Cultural District—after the first documented uprising of transgender and queer people in U.S. history, The Compton’s Cafeteria Riots of 1966—the district encompasses six blocks in the southeastern Tenderloin and adjacent areas.

    Carlo Gomez Arteaga and Breonna McCree appeared in the Chasing the Dream series program “American Problems/Trans Solutions,” broadcast on KQED (2023)

    “San Francisco’s queer history is a rich and complex tapestry that involves so many impactful icons and instances almost lost to history,” said SFGMC Artistic Director Jacob Stensberg. “Through our continuing Memory Keepers Initiative, these stories and the trailblazing people whose stories come alive through their telling serve as reminders that the past can inform the present and that we can learn from the strength, courage, and wisdom of those who came before us.” 

    Fresh Lev White

    In addition to enjoying the 90-minute interactive panel discussion, attendees are encouraged to remain afterwards and record their own stories about queer history in the Bay Area. Volunteers will be on hand to audio or video record anyone with a story to tell and a desire to share it for posterity.

    Andrea Horne

    The first program in the Memory Keepers Initiative was held on January 11, 2024, and was hosted by San Francisco Bay Times columnist and legendary drag artist Donna Sachet. The featured panel members were fellow Bay Times columnist Derek Barnes, who is also a local activist and member of several LGBTQ+ boards of directors; Selisse Berry, a lesbian activist who is the founder of Out and Equal; and SF Empress Alexis Miranda, who is an entertainer and Latino activist.

    Sharyn Grayson

    Following the February 29 event will be the third program in the series, on April 18, which will be hosted by the GLBT Historical Society. The final program of the four-part series will take place on May 16, 2024, and will present a history of the SFGMC with Stensberg as host.

    Tickets are available at

    Arts & Entertainment
    Published on February 22, 2024