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    Sister Dana sez, “Dear Santa: All I want for Christmas is Impeachment. And removal. And jail for all of the scoundrels! Please, Santa please!”

    By Sister Dana Van Iquity–

    Sister Dana sez, “Dear Santa: All I want for Christmas is Impeachment. And removal. And jail for all of the scoundrels! Please, Santa please!”

    Have you noticed that those lovely bows on the Market Street palms look extra-smart this year? That’s after the trees’ recent trimming and cleanup of old fronds, thanks to our District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman and his aide, Tom Temprano!

    Held on the eve of WORLD AIDS DAY, November 30, LIGHT IN THE GROVE is always an annual festive fundraiser for the NATIONAL AIDS MEMORIAL GROVE in the actual Grove. Working our way through the woods, carrying our candles, we enjoyed live musical performers and modern dancers beautifully interpreting the music. We guests experienced a moving candlelight reflection at the Circle of Friends (“the Heart of the Memorial”) where we laid down our candles next to inscribed names of loved ones who had passed from AIDS. We then walked through the spectacularly-illuminated Redwood Grove into a warmly-lit banquet tent. Inside, we enjoyed cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and a buffet dinner with special entertainment by Josh Klipp & the Klipptones giving us everything from Bossa Nova to jazz to golden oldies. Flashed on video screens throughout the venue were appropriate thoughts and tributes. Bishop Yvette Flunder took the podium to sing a cappella “The Healing Balm of Gilead is Love.”

    Event co-chairs Pat Christen & Eric Ciasullo spoke of the many people who do not know their HIV status and the many who are not properly cared for. They introduced Rick Pesano, MD, PhD, of QUEST DIAGNOSTICS, who took us back to the early 80s and the growing AIDS epidemic that was called GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency) back then, and how we have since progressed. But not enough. AIDS is far from over, he said. Or as Senator Scott Wiener said, “HIV is still an epidemic, and we must continue our work to get to zero: zero new HIV infections, zero HIV-related deaths, and zero HIV stigma.”

    This year’s Lifetime of Commitment Honoree was longtime AIDS activist and outgoing Board Chair, Michael Shriver. Mike has been deeply involved in HIV/AIDS advocacy, activism, program development, organizational development and public policy efforts at the local, statewide, national and international levels for more than 30 years. I knew him back in the very beginning of the epidemic when we marched and protested and insisted that the nation acknowledge this horrid disease. He is now a 32-year HIV survivor. “You are everything to me!” he shouted to the audience, and gave us the inspiring history of his path to today. John B. Cunningham, executive director of National AIDS Memorial, also lauded praise to Shriver and announced that the HIV Story Project, a nonprofit organization focused on bridging HIV/AIDS with film, media, and storytelling to fight the pandemic and the global stigma associated with it, will merge with the National AIDS Memorial. Bringing storytelling resources and programs to the National AIDS Memorial aligns the mission of both organizations to never forget the millions of lives lost to HIV/AIDS, to tell the story of AIDS and to help inspire future generations to always remember and be voices of hope. Cunningham reminded everyone of the World AIDS Day VOICES OF HOPE ceremony the next day at noon in the tent, featuring the SF Gay Men’s Chorus, singer Parris Lane, more tributes and awards, and the reading of names. On World AIDS Day, a new Latinx AIDS memorial boulder was inaugurated by EL GRUPO

    Sister Dana sez, “For those of you (and me, for sure) who hate even saying the word ‘Trump,’ now, thanks to the Mueller Investigation, we can call him ‘Individual One’!”

     The escalator at MUNI’s Church Street Station between outbound track-and-fare gates levels is closed for renovations until about March–April 2019. Meanwhile, use stairs or the elevator. We’re fairly sure the escalator’s popular Rainbow LED Lights will return when work’s done.

    This year’s WORLD TREE OF HOPE presented by RAINBOW WORLD FUND is displayed at Grace Cathedral. The World Tree of Hope is the largest origami holiday tree in the world, standing 23 feet tall and decorated with over 17,000 origami cranes and stars, each containing written wishes of hope and peace from children and individuals from around the world. Since 2006, RWF has presented the Tree as a symbol of global unity and hope, to promote peace, love and humanitarian action. The public enjoyed the 13th Annual RWF World Tree of Hope TREE LIGHTING CELEBRATION on December 3. Emcee Donna Sachet introduced Deputy Consul General of Japan, who exchanged large cranes with Rev. Malcom Clemens Young, Dean of Grace Cathedral; Heklina, who sang an Icelandic Christmas carol; Lauren Meyer from 42nd St Moon’s production of Dames at Sea; pianist Tammy Hall; Lesbian Gay Chorus of San Francisco; origami artist Linda Mihara; RWF Founder Jeff Cotter; and several of us nuns from The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, who blessed the tree. Heklina and the Sisters led the attendees to do the traditional countdown from ten to one, and at once the tree lit up with hundreds of brilliant fairy lights. Inspirational!

    On December 6, we enjoyed acoustic performances of more than a dozen classic QUEEN songs interpreted by Bay Area musicians in a beautiful restored 1881 Hayes Valley Victorian, F’Inn, the site of concerts, film shoots, and unique performance events. I recall that back in the early 80s, inn-owner Mike Finn was delighted by his intimate living room productions of so many first-time new shows that have gone on to become hit regulars at Oasis and Victoria Theatre. (Editor’s note: The F’Inn’s historic Victorian was also the former home of The Society of Individual Rights. It served as the first meeting place of The Daughters of Bilitis and the Council on Religion and the Homosexual, which was formed in 1964 by lesbian activists Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin along with Glide Memorial Methodist Church.)

    The salon-style concert, NOW WE’RE HERE celebrated host/author Jim Provenzano‘s Queen-inspired sixth novel, Now I’m Here. The talented performers included Peter Fogel, Suzanne Ramsey, Diogo Zavadzki, Coleton Schmitto, Adam Dragland, and special guests Leigh Crow, Ruby Vixen and Jason Brock. As it was Provenzano’s birthday, we all sang the Birthday Song to him. Combining literature and music, Lambda Literary Award-winning author Provenzano’s sixth novel, Now I’m Here, blends historic and contemporary topics, and each chapter is headed with a Queen song title. In a very brief synopsis, two Southern Ohio teenage boys, Joshua Evans (a piano prodigy) and David Koenig (a pumpkin farmer’s son) attend a Queen concert in 1978 on their first date. Their passionate affair grows into a life together full of farming and concerts in their barn.

    THE SALVATION SISTERS of The SF Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were in the Castro on December 8 ringing bells as an alternate to the anti-LGBTQ Salvation Army bell ringers. The money raised will be split between LYRIC‘s undocumented LGBTQI+ youth work program and the Sisters General Fund. 

    Sister Dana sez, “Kiss me under the mistletoe, or even better: check out these pre-Christmas events!”

    HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, presented by the delightful SAN FRANCISCO GAY MEN’S CHORUS, brings out the full spectrum of holiday revelry as few other shows can do. Backed by a brilliant brass quintet, they will dash from glorious classical fare to swing to big band … plus a few new twists on holiday season classics. Be dazzled and delighted by the breathtaking sound of 250 men’s voices performing favorites from “Silver Bells” to “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” as well as a cutting-edge version of “Silent Night.” On top of that, they will welcome the amazing Marnie Breckenridge to join them in the sublime and the ridiculous … from classy to sassy and back! Three shows on Christmas Eve, December 24 at 5, 7, and 9 pm in the Castro Theatre. This is a holigay (holiday gay) tradition!

    DAMES AT SEA, now playing at Gateway Theatre, 215 Jackson Street, through December 16, is the perfect musical for audiences of all ages to enjoy, whether it’s the scene-stealing over-the-top ham acting, incredible tap-dancing, the light-hearted comedy, the bright and peppy score or the loving homage to musicals of the 1920s and 30s.

    QUEER CHRISTMAS EVE INTERFAITH SERVICE IN THE CASTRO is offered on Monday, December 24, 6 pm–8:30 pm in Harvey Milk Plaza, Castro and Market Streets, hosted by SACRED SPACE SF. Come celebrate the sacredness in each one of us! Join us to lift up the marginalized, the outcast, the immigrant, the unseen and the “other” during this sacred time of year! We will be handing out hygiene kits, socks and a warm simple meal to those in need, for as long as they last. We will also be offering hot chocolate and cookie bites as part of Communion.

    GOLDEN GIRLS LIVE: THE CHRISTMAS EPISODES has returned to the Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th Street, now through December 23. The holidays are on their way and the Girls are back! Take four talented drag performers, cast them in two Xmas episodes of the uproarious TV show Golden Girls, and you have the perfect holiday event for the entire family. In what has become a yearly tradition, this drag send-up and loving tribute to the characters the entire world has come to know and love, features local drag stars: Heklina (Dorothy), Matthew Martin (Blanche), D’Arcy Drollinger (Rose), and Holotta Tymes (Sophia).

    For December, SF artist Thomasina DeMaio of ARTSAVESLIVES has curated a fantastic art exhibition of more than 20 different artists and their amazing pieces at SPARK ARTS, 4229 18th Street in the Castro. Two of my faves are Walker Bukes and his clever photographs-collages of famous dead and alive drag queens and celebs from the 70s to the present, and Rene Capone with his gorgeous nudes on watercolor. The entire exhibition is on display through December. Check ’em out!

    THE MOSCONE CENTER EXPANSION OPENING EVENT will celebrate the completion of the Moscone Expansion at 747 Howard Street on Thursday, January 3, from 10 am to 12 pm for the festivities. Free with registration.

    Dana Sister sez, “Happy Holidaze, Merry Christmas, and Happy Queer Year! Twenny-nineteen has just gotta be bettah!