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    Sister Dana Sez, “I’m still stuffed from the feast I had with friends on ThanksGAYing.”

    Sister-Dana2By Sister Dana Van Iquity

    Sister Dana sez, “I am still stuffed from the feast I had with friends on ThanksGAYing—a term I have coined because I am thankful that I’m gay. And then a few days later we had Thanksgiving leftovers. If I see another turkey leg, I swear I’ll barf!”

    The slogan for this year’s annual HARVEY MILK MEMORIAL MARCH & VIGIL was “BAND TOGETHER & FIGHT BACK!” On Sunday, we gathered at Harvey Milk Plaza at 6:30 pm for our annual remembrance of two of our City’s great leaders—Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone. As we reflected on the mass shooting at Pulse in Orlando earlier this year and grapple with the election of a President who campaigned on hateful rhetoric targeting women, Muslims, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, and people with disabilities, it was more important than ever for us to band together and fight back. Harvey inspired us with a message of hope—a message that resonates even more in these turbulent and uncertain times where our community and our rights are under attack. We assembled in Milk Plaza, where a beautiful portrait of Milk was made of flowers as a shrine, as an LGBTQ community in memory of Harvey Milk, a trailblazing leader who showed us that if we band together and fight back, we can create powerful change. As we remembered and honored Harvey’s legacy, this was the time for us to come together and move forward in coalition to fight back: for our community, for our city, and for our country.

    The candlelight vigil included reflections from LGBTQ community members. Milk Club President Peter Gallotta opened the ceremony saying we are marching with the hope Milk gave us, despite these “times of uncertainty and darkness.” He said he was proud to be in a club that was started by Milk. Former Assemblyman Tom Ammiano said, “I am troubled; I am sad about the election; but I also say: eff you, Trump!” Supervisor David Campos emphasized we must fight to keep our City a sanctuary city, despite the temper of the new administration in the White House. “Queer people must stand up for the rights of everyone!” he said. Former Supervisor Harry Britt spoke of that horrible day when he heard Milk had been shot and the lessons learned since. Former chair of the SF Human Rights Commission Cecilia Chung spoke of being first an immigrant, then a gay man, and then transitioning into a transgender woman, and an HIV survivor, urging, “We cannot dial back our civil rights.”

    Kimberly Alvarengas, who ran for District 11 Supervisor, reminded us what San Francisco is made of: “communities of immigrant workers, families, students, and LGBT community members mobilizing grassroots efforts to win principled leadership for our communities.” Other citizens spoke, and then there was a reading of the names of all the LGBTQ people murdered in America in 2016. This was followed by a march to Harvey’s old camera shop up Castro Street—the site of early gay activism—in the current Human Rights Campaign action center, where a plaque honors Milk on the sidewalk, and a mural of Milk shows him gazing out a window.

    Sister Dana is a huge fan of the cult classic show, Absolutely Fabulous—either the BBC TV version or the equally witty live stage productions here in EssEff. So, of course, I had to attend their closing run for November. THE ROYAL BRITISH COMEDY THEATRE has staged all 12 episodes of Seasons One and Two of the Brit hit, “ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS: LIVE!” under the very clever Christian Heppinstall‘s direction. And for their third season, RCBT brought British TV’s most stylish dysfunctional family back in “ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS: LIVE! – SEASON THREE” with two hilarious episodes, “SEX” and “SMALL OPENING” live on-stage at The Exit Theatre. The combined shows starred ZsaZsa Lufthansa as Patsy, Terry McLaughlin as Edina, Dene Larson as Saffy, Raya Light as Bubble, Lisa Appleyard as Justin and Christopher, Ginorma Desmond as David, Sarah and Edina 2, and Ryan Engstrom as Gran. Also starring were Steven Sparrow, Lisa Darter and Hilda Roe. RBCT has not yet announced their next run of live AbFab stage shows, but you know I will be the first to pass along the good news of their return.

    Meanwhile you can enjoy Christian Heppinstall aka ZsaZsa Lufthansa aka Patsy Stone hosting a World AIDS Day with QueerSpace LGBTQ Reading Series at The Port Bar, 2023 Broadway in Oakland. Actors will read HIV/AIDS literature. Candlelight Vigil. 6–8 pm. Free.

    I attended the next in the series, FAGGOT SENSIBILITY: AN EXPLORATION OF GAY/QUEER MEN’S CONSCIOUSNESS, at the home of Joey Cain. To help us deal with the horror show of the election we had an empowering evening sharing readings from Will Roscoe’s Queer Spirits: A Gay Men’s Myth Book, a collection of stories, tales, poems, and accounts of queer folks and archetypes, ancient and contemporary, from around the world. It was compiled to inspire, guide, and challenge gay men who are seeking a deeper understanding of their sexuality and identity, of the community they live in, of their history and place in society and culture. We joined Will for an evening of storytelling when we took turns reading selections from the book and exploring the ways in which we found ourselves in their heroes and adventures.

    “Don’t we lead mythical lives? Even the most unassuming of us can tell amazing stories of victory against overwhelming odds, self-respect forged out of mind-boggling hate, invention, and wit mothered by inescapable necessity,” wrote Roscoe in the book’s Preface. “This vibrant collection, woven into a seamless fabric by Roscoe’s thoughtful commentary and insight, lights our way on the healing path toward wholeness,” wrote book critic Mark Thompson.

    In response to last week’s alleged gay-bashing of a man in Oakland—as well as recent reports of anti-immigrant incidents in San Francisco—community organizers hosted a “SAFETY SEMINAR.” It was sponsored by Bay Area Open Minds, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Castro Community on Patrol, SF Bay Area Leather Alliance, and SOMArts. The two-hour event was held at the SOMArts Cultural Center to address awareness while in public spaces, basic self-defense, and mental health. Lenny Broberg was one of the event organizers and acted as emcee with Sister Roma. “Many are emboldened by the rhetoric of the presidential campaign and feel that their hateful speech and violent actions are somehow justified and acceptable,” said Sister Roma, who co-created the Sisters’ STOP THE VIOLENCE CAMPAIGN in 1989. “Even right here in San Francisco.”

    The free community seminar addressed issues affecting people of color, women, and the LGBTQ community, although the doors were “open to anyone feeling hurt or displaced following the recent election,” said Broberg. “Our focus is to help to empower people, and maybe allay some of their fears so that they can take back some of the security that they feel they have lost,” he said. Although the safety seminar was not being hosted in conjunction with the San Francisco Police Department, Broberg took the first 20 minutes of the meeting to discuss how to deal with police agencies, how to report an assault or a hate crime, and how to follow-up with crime assistance programs. Broberg was followed by Ken Craig of Castro Community on Patrol. Craig, a grand master martial arts instructor, led participants through some basic self-defense maneuvers. The last segment of the seminar was led by Luke Adams, a relationship and sex therapist, and his colleagues at Bay Area Open Minds. Adams’ presentation covered any grief, anxiety, or depression people might be feeling following the election. “Having a mental health component was important for us,” said Broberg, “because it helps people to realize why they’re reacting the way that they’re reacting. We wanted people to realize that they’re not alone and that they’re not isolated.” Broberg said this was going to be an ongoing conversation, and was “a good first step to help people focus on their fears and some of the safety issues at hand.”

    DONNA SACHET’s annual “SONGS OF THE SEASON” returned for its 24th glorious year benefiting AIDS EMERGENCY FUND, at Halcyon (formerly Beatbox). The talented lineup included Sharon McNight (Broadway Tony nominee & comedy favorite); Brian Kent (international pop singer); Jason Brock (X-Factor  finalist & local singer); Dan O’Leary (handsome, gifted singer); Brooke Michael Smith (2016 SF Cabaret Competition winner); Dyn4mix (a quartet from the SF Gay Men’s Chorus); Kippy Marks (extraordinary electronic violinist); Abigail Zsiga (English electronic dance artist with the voice of an angel); cabaret chanteuse Leanne Borghesi, and, of course, Donna Sachet singing several gay holiday songs with several gay costume changes (well, this IS Donna Sachet, ya know). As everyone always says: you can’t start the holidays without Donna’s Songs of the Season! Sister Dana sez, “Sooooooooooo true!”

    MACY’S celebrated the start of the holiday season with the 27TH ANNUAL GREAT TREE LIGHTING CEREMONY in San Francisco’s Union Square. Following an evening of special musical performances, the Great Tree Lighting Ceremony culminated with the presentation of Macy’s annual gift to San Francisco—a beautiful, reusable, 83-foot tree decorated with more than 33,000 twinkling energy-efficient LED lights and 1,100 shining ornaments. Headlining the festivities was Aloe Blacc, known for his hit songs “I Need a Dollar,” “The Man,” and “Wake Me Up,” and the evening also included performances by the San Francisco Boys ChorusOakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, and the cast of She Loves Me from San Francisco Playhouse’s upcoming production.


    The RAINBOW WORLD FUND (RWF)‘s 11th annual WORLD TREE OF HOPE is a holiday tree at City Hall decorated with thousands of white origami cranes, each containing written notes of hope & peace from children and individuals from around the world. The tree is a gift from members of the LGBT community to the world—given to inspire hope and promote peace, love and humanitarianism. Wishes from world leaders to school children, from San Francisco to Sri Lanka, make the RWF World Tree of Hope a powerful expression of people coming together to create a better world. Be part of this unique symbol of global unity! Send them your wish, and they’ll turn it into an origami crane and put it on The World Tree of Hope. This year’s tree is being dedicated to the victims and survivors of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting. The evening features a concert by the Grammy winning San Francisco Boys Chorus; emcees Cheryl Jennings and Donna SachetMayor Ed Lee and Japan Consul General Jun Yamada will exchange peace cranes, Veronica Klaus and Tammy Hall will perform; and The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence will bless the tree. The tree lighting ceremony is on Wednesday, December 7, 5:30 to 8 pm in the Rotunda. Free admission and refreshments.

    When the ugly Xmas sweaters are taken out of mothballs, it can only mean one thing. It’s time for the annual appearance of THE GOLDEN GIRLS: THE CHRISTMAS EPISODES 2016​. Performance dates are December 1–23. Opening Night is Thursday December 1, 8​ pm​. Live show runs Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, 8:00​ pm, Sundays,​ 7 ​pm. ​15 shows total. Xmas Bonus: 3 added shows Dec. 21, 22, 23 Shows are at The Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th​  Street. Tix $30 available at Drag Stars are Heklina​ (Dorothy), Matthew Martin​ (Blanche), D’Arcy Drollinger​ (Rose), and Holotta Tymes​ (Sophia). Manuel Caneri​ and Tom Shaw are ​also featured in the cast. Directed by Matthew Martin. Costumes by Daffney D’Luxe​. You’ll want to sing along the TV jingle: “Thank you for being a friend.”

    HELP IS ON THE WAY FOR THE HOLIDAYS XV is a holiday celebration for everyone. The RICHMOND/ERMET AID FOUNDATION (REAF)‘s 15th anniversary holiday gala will take place on Monday, December 5, 6 pm at the Marines’ Memorial Theater, 609 Sutter Street. It’s an evening of love, hope, and compassion—for this is the true spirit of the holidays and our hope for this nation. The star-studded night benefits the ASIAN & PACIFIC ISLANDER WELLNESS PROGRAM and LARKIN STREET YOUTH SERVICES. Just a few of the talented performers are cast members from the Tony award-winning Disney’s The Lion King, cast members from the national tour of the Lincoln Center Theater production of Rodgers & Hammertstein’s The King and IJason Graae and cast members from 42nd Street Moon’s Scrooge In Love, Broadway, TV and recording stars Maureen McGovern & Sam Harris, plus cabaret stars Paula West, Jason Brock, Sharon McNight & Carly Ozard. VIP After-party at Clift Hotel.

    The SAN FRANCISCO GAY MEN’S CHORUS will present three dazzling performances of BABES IN JOYLAND, December 9–10, at the Nourse Theater (275 Hayes Street) with performances Friday at 8 pm and Saturday, at 2:30 pm and 8 pm. Tickets range from $25–70. The Chorus is joined by soprano Marnie Breckenridge. Nearly 30 years ago,

    the SAN FRANCISCO GAY MEN’S CHORUS gathered for the first time on Christmas Eve in 1990 at the Castro Theatre to bring the holidays home to those who had none. Thus began the annual tradition of joining together every Christmas Eve at the Castro Theatre for this night of joyous music and heartwarming festivities. This holiday season will mark SFGMC’s 27th annual “HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS” at the Castro Theatre (429 Castro Street) on Christmas Eve. Performances are Saturday, December 24 at 5, 7, and 9 pm. Opera soprano Melody Moore will be the Chorus’ special guest artist for “Home for the Holidays.”

    Curator GERARD KOSKOVICH will lead an informal tour of “THROUGH KNOWLEDGE TO JUSTICE: THE SEXUAL WORLD OF DR. MAGNUS HIRSCHFELD,” an exhibition on Monday, December 19 at 7 pm—running through the end of December at the GLBT HISTORY MUSEUM, 4127 18th Street.  Koskovich will offer an overview of Hirschfeld‘s life and legacy, will highlight the significance of the historical materials on display, and will show and discuss a sampling of further rarities from his personal collection. The talk is sponsored by the CALAMUS FELLOWSHIP as part of its ongoing series “FAGGOT SENSIBILITY: AN EXPLORATION OF GAY CONSCIOUSNESS.”

    Sister Dana sez, “The Pew Research Center’s post-election voter survey has found that nearly two-thirds of Democrats (65 percent) want the opposition party to ‘stand up’ to President-elect Donald Trump, ‘even if less gets done in Washington.’ Pew’s numbers suggest that there is more enthusiasm for opposition to Trump than to any recently elected president. Huzzah!”