Local LGBTQ, AIDS groups plan fall benefits

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Wednesday September 14, 2022
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Zander Moricz, whose "curly hair" commencement speech went viral, will be the keynote speaker at the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club's Gayla. Photo: Courtesy ABC
Zander Moricz, whose "curly hair" commencement speech went viral, will be the keynote speaker at the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club's Gayla. Photo: Courtesy ABC

Local LGBTQ nonprofits, political groups, and HIV/AIDS organizations are busy prepping for the fall gala season as in-person events make a return during the COVID era.

Harvey Milk club

The Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club will hold its Gayla banquet and mark its 46th anniversary Saturday, October 22, from 7 to 10 p.m. at Congregation Sherith Israel, 2266 California Street in San Francisco.

This year the club's special guest and keynote speaker will be Zander Moricz, 18, the Florida high school graduate who challenged the Sunshine State's "Don't Say Gay" bill in a creative way during his commencement address earlier this year. Barred from saying the word "gay" during his speech, Moricz, the first out class president at Pine View School in Osprey, Florida, cleverly substituted "curly hair" instead.

"I must discuss a very public part of my identity. This characteristic has probably become the first thing you think of when you think of me as a human being," he said.

"As you know, I have curly hair," he continued while taking off his graduation cap.

He went on to talk about the challenges "curly haired" people face. The video of his speech went viral, and he appeared on "Good Morning America" afterward to talk about it.

Moricz is a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the Florida law, which went into effect in July. It bans classroom discussion or teaching of sexual orientation or gender identity "in kindergarten through grade three or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards," according to the law. In what opponents say is a clear effort to stifle opposition, the law also opens up schools and teachers to potential lawsuits.

The Milk club event will feature some 300 of San Francisco's influential politicians, community activists, and grassroots organizers who are committed to progressive causes. Tickets for the Gayla start at $100. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.


The GLBTQ+ Asian Pacific Alliance will hold its banquet and gala Saturday, October 1, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, 388 Ninth Street, Suite 290.

The event brings together community leaders, elected officials, and advocates in celebration of the diversity and depth of the queer and trans Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

The keynote speaker will be state Attorney General Rob Bonta, who has been a longtime ally to the LGBTQ community. Bonta, a Democrat, was appointed the state's top law enforcement officer last year by Governor Gavin Newsom after former AG Xavier Becerra took the position of health and human services secretary in the Biden administration. Bonta is up for election in November. He is the state's first Filipino American AG.

A letter from Howard Chan, GAPA chair, noted that "with the continued attacks on the AAPI community as well as the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, it is important to reflect on the gains that our Asian Pacific Islander and LGBTQ+ communities have made to advance our civil rights and liberties."

The event will feature performances and community awards as guests enjoy a 10-course Chinese meal.

Tickets range from $85 to $125 and can be purchased here.

Horizons Foundation

Horizons Foundation, the world's first community foundation of, by, and for LGBTQ people, will hold its gala Saturday, October 1, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Fairmont Hotel, 950 Mason Street in San Francisco.

For the last two years Horizons had held a virtual event. This year's will be livestreamed for those joining from home.

According to its website, Horizons will be honoring Chicana activist Olga Talamante with its Visionary Award and the Levi Strauss Foundation with its leadership award.

Talamante, a lesbian, was a San Francisco Pride community grand marshal in 2012. She is a former board member of Horizons and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Tickets are $400 and include the reception, dinner, and the after-party. Tickets for the after-party only are $150.

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

GLBT Historical Society

"Reunion," the fundraiser held by the GLBT Historical Society, will be held Wednesday, October 19, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Green Room in the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, 401 Van Ness Avenue.

The event is where society members and supporters will celebrate the queer past, honor the history-makers who move the LGBTQ community forward, and raise funds to keep LGBTQ history alive, an email announcement stated. The gala includes a reception, awards presentations, a silent auction, and the opportunity to connect with a wide range of LGBTQ history supporters.

Traditionally held in October to coincide with LGBTQ History Month, the gala has been held virtually for the last two years and is returning in-person in 2022.

Honorees will include the aforementioned Talamante; Donna Personna, a trans woman and artist; Drag Queen Story Hour, a global network of local organizations that will be represented at the event by Per Sia and Julián Delgado Lopera; and life partners Zane Blaney and John Caldwell. Blaney has done audio and video projects over the years while Caldwell is an early member of the society.

Tickets start at $135 and are available here.


The AIDS Legal Referral Panel will hold its "From the Heart" reception and auction Wednesday, October 19, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in the Merchants Exchange Building, 465 California Street in San Francisco.

The legal nonprofit provides free and low-cost legal services to people with HIV/AIDS in the San Francisco Bay Area. At the benefit, it will recognize two individuals and a law firm.

Karl Christiansen will receive the Clint Hockenberry Award. A former board co-chair, Christiansen has quietly committed a quarter century of service to ALRP, an email announcement stated. He has served as a panel attorney, donor, and received the organization's James C. Hormel Philanthropy Award in 2014.

Nancy Lofdahl is being recognized as attorney of the year, while Jose Marin Law will receive the Firm of the Year Award.

Tickets for the reception are $100. For more information, go to the website and click on "news and events."

Castro Country Club

The Castro Country Club, a clean and sober space in the LGBTQ neighborhood, will hold its Harvest Feast fundraiser Wednesday, October 26, at 6 p.m. at the Green Room in the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, 401 Van Ness Avenue.

The theme is "Boogie Wonderland," and a 1970s gala extravaganza will mark the nonprofit's 39th year of service, according to an email announcement. Entertainment will be provided by Deven Green and Handsome Ned, while Nancy French will serve as emcee. The Grass Roots Gay Rights Foundation will be honored.

The event includes a mocktail reception, auction, dinner, and the program. Tickets are $250 and can be purchased here.

Help Peninsula queer youth

Adolescent Counseling Services and Outlet are hosting Out to Eat Thursday, October 27, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way in Palo Alto.

The fundraiser is a way to help LGBTQ+ youth in San Mateo County, an email announcement stated.

Outlet, a program of ACS, provides support groups, mental health services, leadership development, and educational workshops to queer youth and their allies on the Peninsula.

Tickets for the event are $125 and can be purchased here.

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