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    Ready or Not, Here They Come

    By Joanie Juster–

    By “they” in the title of this piece I mean the holidays, that pedal-to-the-metal season of events, travel, family, stress, and, with any luck, joy. In a time when the news is filled with so much about war, strife, discrimination, and hate, we need all the good news we can get—whether it be the positive November 7 election results from places like Ohio and Kentucky, or the fact that the Golden Girls Live Christmas Episodes are just around the corner.

    And as we enter the season of gratitude, let’s give a huge post-election thank you to everyone who voted, and an extra huge shout-out to everyone who worked so hard to get out the vote, whether by donating, text-banking, phone-banking, knocking on doors, writing postcards, or battling in the courts to preserve access to voting rights. We owe a particular debt of gratitude to the countless election workers everywhere who devote themselves to rigorous standards to hold fair and accurate elections. What used to be a simple civic duty has become a battleground, with election workers often targeted. Thank you to all who keep stepping forward to make sure our democracy still works.

    There are more events coming up in the next few weeks than one column can contain, but here are a few to mark on your calendar:

    Transgender Day of Remembrance

    According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, more than one in four trans people has faced assault due to bias or transphobia, with the rates being even higher for trans women and trans people of color. They face exceptionally high levels of both physical and sexual violence at work, at school, at home, in public, or at the hands of government officials.

    The Transgender Day of Remembrance, commemorated each year on November 20, is a day for honoring and remembering those lost to anti-transgender hatred and violence. The toll each year can be challenging to pin down, as misgendering on police reports and underreporting skews the data. In 2019 the American Medical Association recognized “an epidemic of violence against the transgender community,” saying they are over 2.5 times more likely than cisgender people to experience violence. With right-wing politicians and hate groups around the country specifically targeting trans people, this constitutes a public health and safety crisis.

    This Transgender Day of Remembrance, honor and remember those we have lost, but also commit to taking action. Help transgender people by working to ensure their safety: advocate for stricter gun laws, speak out against the tsunami of anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ+ laws that have sprung up around the country, and let trans folks know you have their back. It will take all of us working together to break the cycle of hate and violence.

    And, on the Transgender Day of Remembrance—Monday, November 20—show your support by heading to Oasis at 6 pm for a drag show and fundraiser hosted by Honey Mahogany and featuring an all-trans cast, with performances by Gina La Divina, Mahlae Balenciaga, Vanilla Meringue, King Lotus Boy, and The One and Only Rexy.

    Absolute Empresses’ Annual Thanksgiving Bake Sale

    Need to bring a fabulous dessert to Thanksgiving dinner, but don’t have time or the inclination to bake? The Empresses have your back. The Sisterhood of Absolute Empresses of San Francisco, in Conjunction with The Imperial Council of San Francisco, will be hosting their annual holiday sale featuring tasty treats made by the Empresses themselves on Wednesday, November 22, at 6 pm at The Lookout. Proceeds will benefit the Empresses 60th Anniversary Celebration and the Empresses Fund, allowing the Empresses to support many important local causes.

    Help Decorate the World Tree of Hope

    Volunteers are needed to decorate the Rainbow World Fund (RWF) World Tree of Hope—the largest origami holiday tree in the world, standing over 23 feet tall and decorated with over 17,000 origami cranes and stars, each hand folded and inscribed with wishes for the future of the world. The tree is created as a symbol of global unity and hope, to promote peace, love, and humanitarian action. Its purpose is purely humanitarian with the message that we are all one human family. It is open to everyone regardless of belief or non-belief. The tree lighting is on Monday, December 4, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Info and details:

    Tenderloin Tessie

    The good folks at Tenderloin Tessie are holding two big events in the next couple of weeks: their annual Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday, November 23, then their 5th annual Christmas Cabaret Spectacular on Friday, December 1. Both events will be at the First Unitarian Church. For details, to donate, or to volunteer:

    45th Annual Milk Moscone Vigil

    The Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club is organizing the 45th annual vigil commemorating the assassinations of Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone. The vigil is an annual reminder of the progress that Milk and Moscone fought for, and a call to action to all of us to continue working toward positive social change. The vigil will take place Monday, November 27, at 7 pm at Harvey Milk Plaza at 17th and Castro Streets. Details:

    San Francisco Is a Drag!

    One way to counter the dreary “doom loop” narrative that has been hanging over our city is to go on the offensive, offering joy in massive quantities. The Civic Joy Fund, in partnership with D’Arcy Drollinger, Honey Mahogany, and Juanita MORE!, is proposing to do exactly that by flooding the streets of San Francisco with drag performers on Saturday and Sunday, December 2nd and 3rd, from 1–6 pm. Called San Francisco Is a Drag!, the event will include performances by over 100 drag queens and kings in neighborhoods around the city, including:

    Saturday 12/2: North Beach, Chinatown, Pacific Heights, Polk Gulch, Nob Hill, Union Square, Mid-Market, Theatre District, SOMA;

    Sunday, 12/3: The Castro, Haight Ashbury, Hayes Valley, Lower Haight, Mission Dolores, and the Mission.

    For performance details and a real-time drag map go to:

    World AIDS Day

    World AIDS Day is a day of remembrance, but it is also so much more. It is a day to acknowledge that AIDS isn’t over, and that inequitable access to health care means that millions of people around the globe are still living with HIV and AIDS, with new people getting infected every day. And there is a whole generation of people now aging with HIV whose needs are not being fully met. And it is a day to commit to taking action. Here are some of local events that are being planned to commemorate World AIDS Day:

    National AIDS Memorial: Light in the Grove and World AIDS Day

    The annual kick-off to World AIDS Day is Light in the Grove, the National AIDS Memorial’s annual gala, set in the midst of the AIDS Memorial Grove on the evening of November 30. It is followed the next day, on December 1—World AIDS Day—as people return to the Grove for a national observance of World AIDS Day. Each year this event brings together leaders for a national conversation to discuss the ongoing efforts to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic, to report on progress made, and to inspire hope for the future.

    This year’s World AIDS Day event will feature a panel on bodily autonomy moderated by Imani Rupert-Gordon of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and will include Aria Sa’id, Asmara Gebre, Lashanda Salinas, a spiritual performance by Danza Azteca, an appearance by Olympic gold medalist and HIV activist Greg Louganis, and emcee Karl Schmid.

    For Light in the Grove tickets, go to

    The World AIDS Day presentation will be free and open to all. Details:


    Each year on World AIDS Day, activist George Kelly puts out buckets of chalk on the sidewalks of Castro Street and encourages people to honor those who have died of AIDS by inscribing their names on the sidewalk with chalk. Described as a colorful celebration of life, love, and memories, the 9th annual Inscribe will pay tribute to the more than 25,000 San Franciscans who succumbed to the disease over the last 41 years, including more than 15,000 who called the Castro home. Inscribe is an all-day free public event, starting at 18th & Castro at 9 am on December 1. There will be a short program at 18th & Castro at 2 pm. Free shuttle buses will take people to the World AIDS Day event in the AIDS Memorial Grove from 10 am to 3 pm. Details:

    Songs of Our Mothers

    The HUES program (Healing & Uniting Every Sista) of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation is hosting a new event this World AIDS Day. Called Songs of Our Mothers, it is a coming together of women who are long-term survivors of HIV. They will share their stories of growth, love, family, and careers. The event will bring together the Founding Mothers of HUES to share their journeys as long-term survivors of HIV, and will include symbolism, imagery, a 9-foot mural, a short film, and process art collected over a year-long creative process. Songs of Our Mothers will begin on 12/1 at 7 pm at Oakstop, at 1721 Broadway in Oakland. Details:

    Golden Girls Live!

    Going back to needing some joy: Get your tickets now for Golden Girls Live! The divine Coco Peru will be stepping into the role of Dorothy, played for years by the late great Heklina. Come to the Victoria Theatre and make sure Coco is welcomed warmly to the cast.

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

    In Case You Missed It
    Published on November 16, 2023