News Briefs: 2 LGBTQ SF groups seek funds for Maui fire victims

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Wednesday August 30, 2023
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President Joe Biden spoke with residents affected by the wildfires in Maui during a visit to the island August 21. Photo: Courtesy the White House
President Joe Biden spoke with residents affected by the wildfires in Maui during a visit to the island August 21. Photo: Courtesy the White House

Two San Francisco LGBTQ organizations are seeking funds to help victims of the recent wildfires in Maui, Hawaii.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence will hold "Ohana" Thursday, August 31, at 9 p.m. at the Lookout bar, 3600 Market Street in San Francisco's LGBTQ Castro neighborhood.

Hosted by Sister Roma of the drag nun philanthropic group and Honey Mahogany, a trans person and chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party, the evening will feature the city's storied hula dance company Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu and DJ Bugie, along with pop-up drag performances and other surprises.

According to a news release, all funds raised will go to the Maui AIDS Foundation's Fire Relief Fund, which is currently working to help many people who lost so much in the fires.

The wildfire broke out earlier this month and, on August 8, destroyed the historic town of Lahaina on Maui's western side. Hundreds of people died and more are still reported missing, according to news reports. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden visited the island August 21 and pledged help from the federal government, which is already on the scene.

The fundraiser is the brainchild of longtime Sisters (and partners) Saki Tumi and Penny Costal, the release stated. "We lived on Maui shortly after we met in San Francisco," stated Tumi. "We were greeted with open arms and made many lifelong friendships. When we heard of the unbelievable destruction and loss of life, we knew this was a chance for the Sisters to channel our community's love to help out. We're especially grateful to Gregg Crosby, general manager of the Lookout, for offering this terrific venue. Mahalo!"

Crosby did not return a Facebook message seeking comment, and no one answered the phone at the Lookout Monday afternoon.

Another nonprofit, the Rainbow World Fund, is soliciting donations to help with wildfire relief efforts. The all-volunteer LGBTQ humanitarian organization generally responds to natural and other disasters across the globe.

In an email to supporters, Jeff Cotter, a gay man who is the executive director of RWF, wrote, "Besides the loss of human lives, animal lives, housing, businesses, and infrastructure, the impact on Hawaiian cultural legacy is devastating.

"The fire has destroyed hundreds of artifacts, thousands of historical records, and many culturally and spiritually important sites. Many of the victims were elders and leaders in their families and communities," Cotter added.

Cotter explained that RWF is helping on a micro level.

"On a macro level, Maui's challenges are enormous. It is easy to look at Lahaina and feel overwhelmed. But on a micro level, progress is already being made — and that is where you find the hope," he stated. "There has been an outpouring of support from around the world. People are opening up their homes to the survivors. Visitors are changing their plans to avoid getting in the way and to allow all resources to be dedicated to the survivors. At Rainbow World Fund, we have learned that the foundation for change and long-term recovery after a natural disaster is always on the micro level. One-to-one. Community by community."

RWF is also sending supplies to the Maui AIDS Foundation, and Cotter noted that the best way for people to help is to make a donation. One hundred percent of people's donations will fund lifesaving and improving actions, Cotter stated.

People can donate online by clicking here and selecting "Hawaii Fire Emergency." Checks can be sent to Rainbow World Fund, 4111 18th Street, San Francisco, CA 94114. Write Hawaii Fire Emergency in the memo line.

Older adults can take CA survey

The first-ever needs assessment for Californians aged 55 years and older has launched, and the California Department of Aging urges older adults to fill it out online before the September 4 expiration date.

A news release noted that the Community Assessment Survey for Older Adults is not just another survey; it's a chance for participants to shape the future. "Designed by experts and backed by solid statistical validity, CASOA empowers you to voice your needs and preferences," the release stated.

The aging department added that responses will remain confidential. It noted that the survey also provides the department with "a significant opportunity" to gather information about sexual orientation and gender identity, ensuring that health care remains patient-centered and of the highest quality across the state.

The survey is available in multiple languages. If people have questions they can call (916) 970-9948. To take the survey, click here.

The survey takes about five minutes.

Castro mural restoration seeks donations

The Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association is seeking donations so it can complete restoration of "The Chant of the Earth, the Voice of the Land" mural on upper Market Street near the intersection of 18th Street. Acclaimed muralist Betsie Miller-Kusz painted the mural in 1981, and she has been restoring the mural with the help of assistants and volunteers.

In its newsletter, EVNA President Alex Lemberg stated that the group hit a snag. "We ran out of money," they wrote, "and the project isn't done."

Lemberg added that the Castro Community Benefit District has posted a fundraising link and is the fiscal sponsor of the project.

"The mural theme features an abstract, brilliantly colored depiction of the landforms behind the retaining wall, located on Market Street at 19th Street," the CBD explained on the fundraising page. "The site is at almost the exact geographic center of San Francisco. The forms sweep along at the street level, portraying flows and fissures, uplifts and earth forces, a counterpoint to the downtown skyline visible from the site," the CBD page stated.

The CBD noted that the mural has been restored three times, "and although it was not intended as a political statement in 1981, the crises in our lands have made it so today. After its restoration, it will be coated with a varnish intended to last another 40 years, hopefully impervious to rising sea levels or earthquakes."

Lemberg said the goal is to raise $10,000 so that the restoration can be finished. All donations are tax-deductible and donors' names will be included in the mural, they added.

To donate, click here.

San Francisco drag laureate D'Arcy Drollinger will host "Drag for a Cause." Photo: Bill Wilson  

'Drag for a Cause' is coming up
The United Democratic Club's annual fundraising event, "Drag for a Cause," takes place Sunday, September 17, starting at 1 p.m. at Oasis, 298 11th Street in San Francisco.

San Francisco drag laureate D'Arcy Drollinger, who owns Oasis, is hosting the event, a news release noted.

The drag show competition will feature San Francisco elected officials, and organizers noted that gay city Supervisors Matt Dorsey (District 6) and Rafael Mandelman (D8) have already stepped up to the challenge.

"But it's not all about the lip-synch and dramatic death drops," the release stated. "We're taking a hot minute to talk about trans rights and LGBTQ legislation — because we've got a voice and we aren't afraid to use it."

Part of the funds raised will benefit Drag Story Hour, the national nonprofit that has a chapter in San Francisco.

Tickets are $20 for UDC members or $35 for non-members, which includes a UDC membership. Tickets include one drink ticket.

For tickets, click here.

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