Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

Pulse: one year later


Juanita MORE! and Kirk Maxson remember the victims with love

Frank Hernandez Escalante, Age 27: a portrait by Tino Rodriguez, one of 49 works of art exhibited at Pulse: Acts of Love and Kindness at Fort Mason.
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For many it's difficult to believe that one year has passed since 49 LGBT people, mostly Latino, were massacred at Pulse, an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida. 53 others were wounded at Pulse on June 12, 2016. The incident now holds the record as the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

"I was in shock as the news starting coming in about the shootings," drag icon Juanita MORE! told Bay Area Reporter. "That shock turned into denial. I couldn't believe it was happening and was unable to move or react. It was so paralyzing."

MORE! felt like she had to do something to honor the lives that were lost. On Monday June 12 she and Kirk Maxson will host Pulse: Acts of Love and Kindness, an event focused on art and healing set in the unique General's Residence on the Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture campus. The event will commence at 6pm and continue until 10pm. The evening will include music, drinks food and performances. Portraits of each of the individuals who died at Pulse will be on display.

"My longtime friend Kirk suggested that we collaborate on this project together," MORE! said. "We reached out to our circle of artist friends and the response was overwhelming. We have 48 portraits available for purchase for $200 a piece. We will be gifting the 49th portrait to the brother of one of the Pulse patrons we lost."

MORE! noted that some of the families and loved ones were aware of the event but that she didn't know if any planned to attend. MORE! also mentioned that proceeds from the portrait sales would benefit Q Foundation (until recently known as AIDS Housing Alliance) as well as the LGBT Asylum Project.

Q Foundation provides rental subsidies to low-income LGBT people who suffer from chronic HIV related health issues, LGBTs with other chronic disabilities, and low income Queer seniors. The LGBT Asylum Project offers pro-bono legal representation to LGBT asylum seekers fleeing persecution and seeking refuse in the United States.

"It is in the spirit of San Francisco's status as a sanctuary city that both the services of the Q Foundation and the LGBT Asylum Project are inextricably woven like a safety net," MORE! said. "Whether in the form of asylum from persecution or housing assistance for those most in need of calling our community home."

MORE! also spoke a bit about what the evening's performances would entail.

"Kirk Maxson will speak about the artists we've included and their process," she said. "I've asked members of my family to participate in the reading of the names. Additionally there will be a spoken word piece written by my son David Rojo and read by my daughter Dulce De Leche. Finally there will be a special performance by my mother Glamamore and myself followed by the opportunity to celebrate and honor the victims."

MORE! spoke plaintively about the legacies of those who died at Pulse.

"I would like to see them remembered for doing what they always did, going out, meeting friends, making new ones; the things we all take for granted in our community."

Asked what she'd like to see people take from the event, MORE! said, "An event like this with this kind of circumstances is difficult to create. I hope that this artistic project brings the San Francisco community together to mourn and celebrate the vibrant lives of those we lost."


'Pulse: Acts of Love and Kindness,' June 12, at Fort Mason Center For Art and Culture, 2 Marina Blvd. Tickets are $25.

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