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News Briefs: Holliday to headline Bliss

by Cynthia Laird

Jennifer Holliday
Jennifer Holliday  

Grammy- and Tony-winning vocalist Jennifer Holliday will headline Maitri Compassionate Care's annual Bliss benefit Sunday, May 6, from 4:30 to 8 p.m. at the Julia Morgan Ballroom, 465 California Street in San Francisco.

Maitri's hospice has provided end-of-life care to people living with HIV/AIDS since 1987. It is marking its 31st anniversary.

Other entertainers who will be performing include guitarist and vocalist Jonny Zywiciel, vocalist Frenchie Davis, and comedian Jason Stuart. The host and auctioneer will be David Johannes.

The event will feature a reception and silent auction, followed by dinner and the program.

Among those being honored are former Executive Director Bill Musick for 20 years of leadership and service. Longtime volunteer Kirsten Havrehed will also be recognized. New Executive Director Anne Gimbel will also be on hand.

Tickets are $275. For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit

Farrell announces new team to remove syringes
Mayor Mark Farrell announced this week the creation of a new public health team hired specifically to address the syringe litter epidemic on San Francisco streets.

According to a news release, 10 additional workers will be hired for syringe cleanup duties. The city currently has four workers in a rapid response team to do needle cleanup and respond to resident complaints.

The new hires will be contracted through the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and conduct targeted sweeps of hot spots based on complaint data collected from 311, the city's one-stop center for reporting information on municipal services.

"The city's increased investment will allow us to build upon current disposal efforts which result in the collection and disposal of more than 275,000 used needles per month," SFAF CEO Joe Hollendoner said in a statement. "I am deeply thankful to the mayor and the Department of Public Health for their steadfast commitment to the public's health and safety."

Along with increasing staffing, the city will add an additional three disposal boxes for used needles.

Health Director Barbara Garcia said needle litter is "an environmental health issue that affects everyone in the city, and it is a problem for cities all over the world. By increasing our response capabilities we expect to see a significant reduction in needles on the streets."

Oakland LGBTQ center to hold holistic health day
The Oakland LGBTQ Community Center will hold a free holistic health and wellness day Sunday, April 29, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the facility, 3207 Lakeshore Avenue (entrance on Rand Avenue).

The event will feature speakers, demonstrations, vendors, panel discussions, and more. Topics include LGBTQ mental health, trans health, meditation, QTPOC yoga, nutrition education, queer family health, and much more.

In other center news, co-founder and board President Jeff Myers recently sent an email to supporters stating that the organization is seeking volunteers to help with San Francisco and Oakland Pride activities. Interested people can email volunteer coordinator Fern Stroud at San Francisco Pride is June 23-24; Oakland's Pride is September 9.

D8 residents can vote on budget proposals
Gay District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy has announced that residents can now vote for participatory budgeting proposals in the district.

Participatory budgeting is a democratic process that gives community members the opportunity to set budget priorities and make decisions on which community projects should be funded. There is $250,000 to be allocated in District 8, Sheehy said in a news release.

All D8 residents 16 and up can participate in the voting process. Non-U.S. citizens, regardless of immigration status, are also invited to participate.

"I am very proud to initiate District 8's first participatory budgeting process," Sheehy said.

The deadline is May 1. To vote, visit

SF Carnaval crowns 1st drag titleholder
Organizers of the annual SF Carnaval have crowned Black Opal as the event's first Drag Majesty titleholder.

This year marks the celebration's 40th anniversary. It also is the debut of the Drag Majesty and gender-neutral Royale titleholders as part of the event's Royalty Court.

Transgender actor Jaylyn Abergas, currently appearing in the Tenderloin Museum's show, "The Compton's Cafeteria Riot," will serve as the inaugural Carnaval Royale ambassador. And after holding a competition Saturday, April 21, that saw four drag queens compete for the Drag Majesty crown, Black Opal emerged the winner.

According to her bio posted by SF Carnaval, Black Opal is a trained dancer who favors jazz, hip-hop, and contemporary styles when she performs. She "is definitely an aspiring look queen who finds strength in looking fierce and having an even more fierce performance," according to her bio.

Also crowned at last weekend's royalty competition were Queen Tainah Damasceno Harvey, the assistant artistic director at BrasArte, and King Adonis Damian Martin QuiƱones, a Cuban dancer who moved to the Bay Area in 2013. The four titleholders will lead the televised 40th Annual Carnaval San Francisco Grand Parade through the city's Mission district Sunday, May 27.

New hours at Lyon-Martin
Lyon Martin Health Services, which recently joined with the Women's Community Clinic and is a program of HealthRight 360, has announced new hours as it moves to 1735 Mission Street beginning May 8.

Lyon-Martin primarily serves women and trans people. All services are provided regardless of ability to pay.

According to a news release, the Women's Community Clinic will begin its move Friday, May 4. Lyon-Martin will be open for a half-day, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. that day, and will be closed Monday, May 7. The two programs will re-open Tuesday, May 8, at 8:30 a.m.

New hours will be: Monday-Tuesday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; and Friday, 1:30 to 5 p.m.

For more information, visit

Queer prom in San Jose
Queer youth are invited to attend the Queer Prom in San Jose Friday, May 4, from 8 to 11 p.m. at the Mexican Heritage Plaza, 1700 Alum Rock Avenue.

Youth between the ages of 14-20 are welcome. They must present school or California ID at the door. Organizers said that formal wear is not required.

The evening will include dancing, raffles, performances, food, and a resource fair.

The event is being organized by William C. Overfelt's gender-sexuality alliance, in partnership with Santa Clara County's Office of Education, the LGBTQ Youth Space, Tobacco Use Prevention Education, and the Office of LGBTQ Affairs.

While the prom is free, there is a $5 suggested donation that will benefit the LGBTQ Youth Space and the WCO-GSA.

For more information and to sign up, visit

Trans re-entry resource fair
A Woman's Place will hold a trans re-entry resource fair and town hall Friday, May 4, from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Latino Hispanic Community Room at the main San Francisco Public Library, 100 Larkin Street.

Girlfriends Connect at UCSF is also collaborating on the event.

Organizers said that agencies and providers will have tables to discuss and distribute information about resources for this community. A panel of speakers will talk about their experiences with incarceration and re-entry services.

There is no cost to attend. Refreshments will be provided.

LGBTQ Mormons to meet in SF
Affirmation: LGBTQ Mormons, Families, and Friends, will hold its Bay Area regional conference in San Francisco May 4-6.

The theme for the conference is "A View From Here," and will highlight thought leaders in the Mormon queer space.

The conference begins with a welcoming event at Salesforce Tower Friday night, and a day of workshops on Saturday at the Harvey Milk Center for the Arts, 50 Scott Street, followed by a bonfire at Ocean Beach.

Special honorees will be Gary and Millie Watts and Kate Kendell, the outgoing executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights who is a former Mormon. Author Greg Prince will speak about his upcoming book on the intersection of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and LGBTQ issues.

Workshop topics include LGBTQ parenting, trans and intersex issues, and a discussion with progressive LDS leaders who are making a difference in their congregations for inclusion of queer members.

Affirmation is the world's largest support group for LGBTQ Mormons and former Mormons.

The cost for the conference is $60. Evening events are free but require pre-registration. For more information, visit or contact Brandt Hill, Bay Area conference co-chair, at

Contact the reporter at
Matthew S. Bajko contributed reporting.


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