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News Briefs: Oakland LGBTQ center to hold winter holiday benefit

by Cynthia Laird

The Oakland LGBTQ Community Center will hold its inaugural holiday fundraiser Monday, December 11, from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Lake Merritt Hotel Terrace Room, 1800 Madison Street (off of Lakeshore Avenue).

Since the center opened in September, it has offered numerous workshops, get-togethers, and other activities. Last week, it held a Transgender Day of Remembrance observance and Thanksgiving dinner for those who had no place to go or wanted to be with friends.

Co-founder and Executive Director Joe Hawkins wrote in an email to the Bay Area Reporter that, in the just over two months that the center has been open, over 1,500 people have attended various activities or stopped by either to get connected to community resources or to check out the facility.

"It has been quite overwhelming," Hawkins wrote, adding that over 500 people have requested to volunteer.
In addition to weekly activities like open mic night (in partnership with Spectrum Queer Media), parents and kids playtimes, and Friday game nights, the center has held forums on racism and spirituality, Hawkins said.

But he explained that the center is desperately in need of financial support. The center, he said, is not yet in the main grant cycle to apply for most funding opportunities.

As the Bay Area Reporter noted in an August story on the center's opening, rent at the facility is $5,000 per month.

The upcoming benefit has a "Winter Fairyland" theme and will be a drag show and holiday party celebrating the music of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.

Tickets are $55 for general admission, which includes the show and hors d'oeuvres, or $80 for VIP, which includes floor seating and two drink tickets. To purchase tickets, visit

The LGBTQ center is located at 3207 Lakeshore Avenue (enter on Rand Avenue). For more information, visit

SFAF to hold World AIDS Day vigil
The San Francisco AIDS Foundation will take its message of remembrance and community advocacy to the streets during a vigil to honor those lost to AIDS Friday, December 1, which is World AIDS Day.

The vigil begins at 5 p.m. outside SFAF's headquarters at 1035 Market Street. It will proceed toward City Hall along the sidewalk and through United Nations Plaza. Participants, including SFAF staff, clients, and volunteers, will have battery-powered candles and carry signs honoring loved ones.

The event is open to the public. For more information and to RSVP, visit

St. James Infirmary seeks coats
St. James Infirmary, the country's only occupational health and safety clinic run by and for sex workers, is seeking new and gently used coats for its holiday drive. Organizers said that coats will go to community members who are low-income and/or homeless. All sizes (XS to 4X) are desired. Coats can be brought to St. James' office at 234 Eddy Street in San Francisco.

For more information on how to donate coats or sponsoring coats, visit

Youth Radio open house
Youth Radio will hold an open house Friday, December 1, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at its headquarters located at 1701 Broadway in downtown Oakland.

Officials said that the station will open its doors to the community and people can stop by and learn about Youth Radio and take a tour. The event will also celebrate the work produced by Youth Radio's young storytellers, media-makers, and creatives.

The open house is free. To RSVP, visit

Zoolights returns in Oakland
The Oakland Zoo's popular Zoolights returns Friday, December 1, and runs through January 1.

This year people can ride in the zoo's festively-lit gondolas and see the Bay Area like never before. Officials have also added laser light shows and more to the thousands of holiday lights and decorated structures. There's a candy cane lane-themed "adventure landing" with rides for kids, the Oakland Express train, and much more. Santa will be appearing on select dates.

Entrance fees are $10 for adults and $9 for children and seniors. Parking is free. Zoolights is closed December 24-25. For more information, visit or call (510) 632-9525.

Ice skating party to benefit Larkin Street
Friends of Larkin Street will hold its eighth annual holiday ice skating party Wednesday, December 6, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the ice rink at Justin Herman Plaza at Market and Steuart streets in downtown San Francisco.

The event is a benefit for Larkin Street Youth Services, which works to end youth homelessness.

Organizers said that they would have snacks and beer, with wine or cocktails available for purchase. The event is for those age 21 and older.

Tickets are $35-$55. To register, visit


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