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

Post-Pride prism

On the Town

A festive balloon contingent at 2017's Pride parade. photo: Steven Underhill
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Looking back on Pride Week 2017, we will long remember an unusual mix of hope and frustration, victories and challenges, celebrations and protests, all representing the resilient LGBTQ Community that has risen again and again in the face of persecution, discrimination, and disregard.

Our week began at the official raising of the Gilbert Baker created rainbow flag over City Hall on Monday. Joined by Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, Sherriff Vicki Hennessey, Chief of Protocol Charlotte Shultz, and other City family members, Mayor Ed Lee spoke of the contrasting pictures in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco before raising the flag above City Hall from the Mayor's Balcony, as Grand Marshals Chris Carnes and Dr. Marcy Adelman, George Ridgley, Matthew Goudeau, Chris Verdugo, Gretchen Fleishmann, Tommy Taylor, and many others proudly looked on.

A Taste-catered reception followed in the Rotunda, emceed by Supervisor Jeff Sheehey and supported by Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the Honorable Mark Leno, Board President London Breed, Tom Horn, Patrick Carney & Hossein Carney, and many more. As we descended the Grand Staircase of the Rotunda afterwards with Reigning Emperor Nic Hunter and Emperor David Harrison White of Reno, we were overwhelmed with a sense of genuine San Francisco Pride.

Tuesday night, we gathered at the HRC Store in the Castro where the actual Rainbow Honor Walk brass plaque commemorating Jose Sarria was unveiled by the Reigning Emperor Nic Hunter and Reigning Empress Mercedez Monro. Other Imperials in attendance included Empresses Emma Peel and Saybeline and Emperor Frankie.

The small gathering represented all ages and many parts of the world, appropriately beginning their SF Pride experience in the space once occupied by Harvey Milk and his camera shop. The plaque will remain on display there through the month of June, to be placed in the sidewalk in the Castro neighborhood before the end of the year.

Our Imperial "walk-around" then included quick stops at Dog Eared Books for their one-year anniversary, the GLBT Historical Society's Museum for the unveiling of their recent upgrade, and a final whirl through the busy Mix bar. The air was ripe with anticipation as Pride slowly gathered momentum.

Friday morning at the Hilton Hotel Union Square, we co-emceed the Pride Press Party with Pride President Michelle Meow. Most of the Grand Marshals and other honorees of the Pride Parade assembled to answer questions from the press and public, each defining their sense of LGBT Pride, all striking a balance between the need to protest against threats to our advances and the need to celebrate our community's beauty and diversity. Most notably, SF civil rights pioneer Roma Guy was joined by the actress Emily Skeggs, who portrays her in ABC television's When We Rise.

Afterwards, the entire group adjourned to the Cityscape Lounge atop the hotel for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres amid sweeping views of the entire City. As photographers snapped various groupings of Grand Marshals and other community leaders, it seemed a fitting prelude to the coming weekend's activities.

Guests at the annual Pride Brunch at the Hotel Whitcomb in groovy Summer of Love style. photo: Steven Underhill

The 19th annual Pride Brunch on Saturday morning at Hotel Whitcomb brought together a diverse group of movers and shakers within our LGBT Community to salute the Grand Marshals and Honorees of the Pride Parade and to raise funds for Positive Resource Center.

Over 300 people, including Celso Dulay & Chris Knight, Cicero Braganca, Russ Lorenson, Emperor Kevin Lisle, Empress Marlena, and Julian Marshburn, socialized for the first hour and then enjoyed a gourmet brunch buffet and riveting program with rousing speeches, touching remembrances, and proud affirmations from Wells Fargo's Jim Foley, Oxygen television's Strut's Cassandra Cass, PRC's Brett Andrews, El/La Para TransLatina's Jessie D'Santos, NCLR's Ruth McFarlane, Blackberri, Bay Area American Two-Spirits' Miko Thomas, Grand Marshals Chris Carnes, Alex U. inn, and Dr. Marcy Adelman, and SF Gay Men's Chorus' Dr. Tim Seelig.

We began the program with Gary Virginia, donned in outfits reminiscent of the Summer of Love, carrying peace signs and singing along to "If You're Going to San Francisco." Again, the event reflected an appropriate mix of serious reflection and whimsical celebration.

That night, we experienced a world-class dance party at Audrey Joseph and Brian Kent 's Jungle: Pride at The Armory. Swathed in animal print fabric and supported by the able arms of Richard Sablatura and Jeff Doney, we stormed The Armory, joining thousands of smiling dancers and fellow hosts BeBe Sweetbriar, Carnie Asada, and Andy Lax, surrounded by the most incredible sound system, lighting and other special effects, and atmospheric details this City has seen in decades. The international DJs and gogo dancers lived up to all expectations and Betty Who's 1AM appearance provided the perfect peak performance.

Costars in Vincent Gagliostro's Frameline-featured film After Louie, Zachary Booth and Wilson Cruz attended the City Hall VIP Pride party. photo: Steven Underhill

Pride Sunday, we made our first stop at the Embarcadero Hyatt for the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club Breakfast, co-chaired by Coma Te and Gary McCoy. We caught up with Jason Brock, Rafael Mandelman, Cecilia Chung, Rebecca Prozan, Anna Damiani, Andrea Shorter, Julius Turman, and many others. Over 800 guests enjoyed the event, featuring a keynote address from California Attorney General Xavier Beccera and attended by practically every elected official in the State.

Then it was time to assemble for the SF LGBTQ Pride Parade! We joined fellow anchors of the KOFY-TV coverage, Michelle Meow, Gary Virginia, Demetri Moshoyannis, and Oscar Raymundo, at Beale and Market to prepare for the cameras and the crowds. Only a few minutes late, the roar of the Dykes on Bikes greeted us and a dazzling parade of floats, walking contingents, musical groups, corporate representatives, elected officials, non-profit organizations, and celebrities swarmed up Market Street for five hours.

Most notably, the first contingent after the Dykes on Bikes was a newly formed Resist group, comprised of many groups and organizations dedicated to active resistance to the opposition to our LGBT civil rights, particularly demonstrated at the federal level. Grand Marshal Alex U. Inn was prominently visible among this group.

Our sincere thanks go out to the many who shouted out our name as they passed by and our apologies for missing anyone while in the throes of television production. No written description could possibly present the colorful vision this proud parade provided. Suffice it to say, the LGBTQ Community is alive and well in San Francisco and not about to crumble in the face of any opposition!

Festive fun at City Hall's Pride Party. photo: Steven Underhill

As the final contingent gleefully coasted up Market Street, we grabbed the next MUNI underground to Civic Center for the VIP Party in the Rotunda of City Hall. There, amid celebrants of every color, age, persuasion, and level of involvement, we appropriately closed our weekend where it began. We took photos with Dustin Lance Black, Stephen Adams, Teresa Sparks, Sister Dana van Iquity, Anietie Ekanem, Joey Cain, and many others, as entertainers filled the staircase and Harvey Milk's statue smiled from above.

With the spectacular dome of San Francisco's City Hall above us and our beloved community around us, we soaked up the affirmation of a defiant and persistent people who shall not return to secondary status, but shall continue to resist and eventually overcome any opposition.

The icing on our Pride cake was LGBT Night at AT&T Park, watching the SF Giants soundly defeat the Colorado Rockies, cheered on by thousands of supporters, among them, Gary Virginia, Deana Dawn, Coma Te & Travis Wise, Andy Rose & Manuel Aguero, Karin Jaffie & Lori Howes, William Bulkley & Garaje Gooch, Sister Roma, Leandro Gonzales, and Kippy Marks. Everyone left with a warm scarf emblazoned with Pride symbols, a souvenir of the night and of the City's relentless support of our struggle.


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