Queer

Live Shots: GAPA Runway 23, 08/13/2011

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Fantasy Land was out in full force on the Herbst Theater stage this past weekend, for the 23rd annual Gay Asian Pacific Alliance (GAPA) Runway show and 2011 Mr. & Miss GAPA pageant. The contestants were dressed to impress and pulled out all the stops (and pulled off a few pairs of pants too), in hopes of winning over a panel of judges that included everyone from socialites like Holy McGrail and politician Fiona Ma. Everyone was bedazzled, especially by the host Tita Aida.

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Vicki Marlane, 1934-2011

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San Francisco lost true drag royalty today when Ms Vicki Marlane, "the Girl with the Liquid Spine" who performed with the weekend Hot Boxxx Girls revue at Aunt Charlie's Lounge, passed away at 7:04 a.m. at San Francisco General Hospital. No official cause of death was immediately available, but her co-entertainer Gina la Divina said she "had been down for a while," presumable meaning she had been ill. (This information was passed on to me this morning by Matt Slusarenko of Queerty.com, and he's just posted his tribute.) From circus sideshow act in the 50s to drag road warrior in the swinging 70s -- she lived a life, honey. That life was documented in a fantastic film released last year, "Forever's Gonna Start Tonight."

Besides enjoying her performances countless times, I had the pleasure of interviewing her for the Winter 2008 edition of our nightlife guide SCENE.

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Amaaazin' fruits

National Queer Arts Fest, Queer Women of Color Film Fest, Fresh Meat X ... Pride month hits its stride with art and parties up the yin-yang 

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marke@sfbg.com

QUEER It's not even Pride yet, but the city is brimming with so many vibrant queer affairs that many of us may feel over the rainbow already. I feel hot pink and exhausted! But the plethora of blowouts with a Q is just more evidence — like those rainbow flags flying along Market Street — that truly we live in Homo Disneyland, an Epcot Gomorrah of creative fecundity. Strap yourself onto the June boom and ride it all the way through with the following.

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Dan Savage turns anti-gay-bullying "It Gets Better" YouTube phenom into book

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In a mission to take the It Gets Better Project -- his groundbreaking video collaboration series that seeks to help victims of gay bullying by spreading stories of survival -- directly from YouTube to the shelves of school libraries, sex columnist and author Dan Savage has compiled a collection of "It Gets Better" testimonials into a new book, It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living. Contributors range from Barack Obama and Ellen Degeneres to Chaz Bono and SF's very own Lynne Breedlove, and represent a wide and diverse range of older voices hoping their stories of getting through rough youthful periods will inspire youth to take heart and hold on. All the profits from the book, which came out this week, will benefit LGBT charities.

Savage will stop at the SFSU bookstore Friday, March 25, at noon in his cross-country college tour to promote it. He took some time to talk to us about how a book can add a special magic to the project, why LGBT adults have been frightened to reach out to queer teens, and where he sees his project in 10 years.

SFBG: The It Gets Better campaign that you and your partner Terry started has gotten over 35 million views on YouTube. Why a book? What can a book do for the campaign that a video hasn’t done so far?

Dan Savage: Having written a couple of them, books are kind of magic. They wind up places that no one can predict and no one expects. People have a way of happening upon a book at just the moment in their lives when they need to read that particular book. So it was a way to make more magic happen for the It Gets Better project. Also, it is a way for schools to demonstrate their support for LGBT students by shelving this book in their libraries, in addition to having anti-bullying programs and GSA’s. Not all students have internet access or allowed internet access. It’s a way for schools to get involved without having their students be on YouTube all day long.

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Soul with a "Q"

Queer monthly outdoor party Hard French returns with vinyl sunshine

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MUSIC How do you know spring is coming in San Francisco? Trusty Mission venue El Rio starts throbbing once a month to the sweet soul sounds of yesteryear, and a hot, youthful crowd of queer dancers (and friends) floods the spacious patio to capacity. Although there are many parties in the city that cater specifically to gay men, Hard French is one of a handful that has built a successful formula on welcoming everyone — lusty femmes, trans jocks, DIY freaks, fairy stoners, vinyl junkies — while staying true to its spirit of retro-tune vitality and lean toward old-school R&B.Read more »

Queer Palestinian activists discuss "pinkwashing" and more

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Queer Palestinian activists are on tour in the Bay Area speaking about queer struggles in the context of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. (Tonight is your last chance to catch the three representatives of the organizations Aswat and Al Qaws as they relate their stories, 7-9pm at the Pro Arts Gallery, 150 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakl. Facebook info here.)

Last night they spoke at Mission High School in an event organized by the Arab Resource and Organizing Center and co-sponsored by a diverse coalition of groups. Most asked be be identified by their first names only, fearing discrimination for the sexual orientation and reprisals for speaking out. Here are some highlights

“The Palestinian queer movement has managed to combine queer, feminism, and resistance to occupation into one integrated struggle,” said Haneen, who is active with Al Qaws, which promotes the development and growth of the Palestinian LGBTQ community. “When you talk queer rights in Palestine you cannot overlook the fact that Palestinians live under occupation. It is important not to overlook.”

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Work the throne: Interviews with the San Francisco Empress 2011 candidates

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Update: Saybeline has been crowned the new Empress. Congratulations to both the outstanding candidates, and warm wishes for the future.

In this week's Super Ego column in the paper, I give a grateful nod to our esteemed - if little acknowledged -- Imperial Court system, an incredible, drag-based 45-year-old institution that raises tens of thousands of dollars for charitable Bay Area causes. (Really, do yourself a historical favor and check out the recently revamped Imperial website.) Below are my full interviews with the candidates, Saybeline and Monistat.

The annual elections for Empress of San Francisco are coming fast upon us (Sat/19, free. Noon–7 p.m. at Castro Muni Station, Castro and Market, and 11 a.m.–6 p.m. at Project Open Hand, 730 Polk, SF.) The winner will devote the next year of her life to raising funds and repping SF -- after she graciously endures a daylong coronation ceremony on Sat/26, one of the city's true mind-blowing spectacles. (The winner will be announced at Coronation.)

I emailed a series of questions to both candidates in order to get a better sense of who they are and why we should vote for them. They each bring a different, welcome perspective to the competition that ultimately helps refresh this cherished local tradition.

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Rally for queer youth on Friday

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As we wrote about last week, a tragic and almost unfathomable epidemic of queer youth suicides has been reported in the past three weeks, much of it tied to vicious anti-gay bullying. This Friday, October 8, there will be a "Stand Up to Youth Suicide" rally at Civic Center Plaza at 6:30pm. Speakers Tom Ammiano, Andrea Shorter, and more will speak about queer youth and how we can help. The rally will be followed by a candlelight march to the Castro at 7:30pm. 

The flyer notes: "Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are up to 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than their hmosexual peers. Nearly 1/2 of transgender people have seriously thought about committing suicide." Full announcement after the jump -- Facebook event info here.

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Our queer children are killing themselves: You can help UPDATED

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Update: According to LGBTpov.com, Gov. Schwarzenegger yesterday "signed the Mental Health Services for At-Risk Youth Act (SB 543), which will expand access to essential mental health services for youth ages 12-17. The bill, authored by openly gay State Sen. Mark Leno and sponsored by Equality California, allows teens to obtain counseling without parental consent." Unfortunately,  "Friday morning, Charles Robbins, Executive Director of The Trevor Project reported a fifth suicide -- Raymond Chase, 19, a sophomore at Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island took his own life on Wednesday." Hopefully kids in California will at least have expanded access to mental health counseling services. Original post is below.

For the fourth time this month, a kid who was harassed by anti-gay bullies has taken his own life. Seth Walsh, an out gay 13-year-old in Tehachapi, in central California, had been transferred from middle school to an independent study program, reportedly because he had been teased relentlessly about his orientation. Ten days ago he was found unconscious at the base of a tree in his backyard, apparently after he had attempted to hang himself. His parents took him off life support yesterday in Bakersfield.   

Even though other kids admitted to harassing Seth -- police reported that some of them "broke down in tears" because "they had never seen this outcome," and wished they hadn't participated in the bullying -- no charges will be pressed against them: their actions do not constitute a crime

Horribly, this was no isolated incident.  

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Showtime for Miss Cass!

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It seems like forever since gloriously booby SF transsexual performer Cassandra Cass was handing out out-dated calendars of herself at drag shows for the elderly. Now she has a show on Showtime, premiering tonite. And it makes me love America again.