Friday, November 27, 2009

Bring It! November 27, 2009

Seeing San Francisco through the eyes of visitors is always an eye-opening experience. It’s great to be reminded of all the things we can take for granted here in Oz.

When a pair of dear friends arrived from Minneapolis to see “how real San Franciscans live” over the holidays, I was skeptical at first. Why not come for Pride or Folsom or something else uniquely San Franciscan in scale and scope?

But going out with them on what was supposedly “an off weekend” made me realize that there’s no such thing as an off weekend when you live over the rainbow. It’s a real gift. Even when half the city is out of town and the other half is staying home overeating and being underactive in a way that San Franciscans normally try to avoid, we still do things our own glittery way.

In the Midwest, the holidays probably aren’t celebrated with a leather-bar crawl or with big gay singalongs. Family feasts probably aren’t punctuated with nitrous charges and marijuana desserts. The seasonal soundtrack probably isn’t songs from the circuit or showtunes sung by drag queens.

Ritual and tradition are no less meaningful among San Framily than they are among our “real” families back at home. Getting to see that from the perspective of extended family visiting from the gay hinterlands makes me feel both blessed and blissed, the way holidays are supposed to make you feel but rarely actually do.

I was worried that my visitors wouldn’t see enough of “the real San Francisco,” but realness is exactly what’s worth celebrating in the city that sets the standard for how to do everything the gay way, and for how to add a little more gay to every day.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bring It! November 13, 2009

Living in San Francisco gives me so many reasons to be thankful it’s ridiculous. It’s easily worth living beyond my means and living without sleep.

When counting my San Francisco blessings, freedom always comes to mind first, and then there’s our exceptional quality of life. We live large here in Oz, so large that it’s perfectly easy to forget there’s any other way to live.

Some San Franciscans aren’t so fortunate, and it’s important that we don’t forget them. Fortunately, our beautiful bubble by the bay offers countless ways to have big fun and give something big back to the community while doing it.

Enjoying a party and helping a cause aren’t mutually exclusive pursuits. Or they shouldn’t be, so I try to multitask in this way whenever possible. It’s really not hard, and there’s a bounty of rewards.

This Thanksgiving, I’m reflecting on how many ways this city allows me to get my glitter or leather or dance on in the name of altruism. Whether it’s Nasty, my filthy fun-raiser for AIDS Emergency Fund on first Fridays at the Powerhouse (come check it out on December 4!), or Real Bad, the closing party of the Folsom Street Fair that just gave away $150,000 to worthy beneficiaries, I’m continually humbled by how often a night on the town results in tangible support for San Franciscans that truly need our help.

Even my gig as a gogo dancer for Fresh ultimately amounts to shaking my ass for charity. On November 22 I’ll be working the box knowing that my “werk” is going to Maitri, which provides hospice care for people living with AIDS. Meanwhile, Maitri was one of Real Bad’s beneficiaries this year. That’s measurable impact, and all I’m doing is being the circuit sister I can’t help but be!

At Nasty, we play a game called STICK IT IN! that involves big giggles and small change (in Crisco cans) and results in a couple of grants each month for HIV/AIDS emergency assistance. Really? I get to throw myself at the men of the Powerhouse and call myself a fag hag philanthropist? That’s something to be extremely thankful for!

Let’s bring it to our common cause whenever and wherever we can this holiday season. It’s all about the giving, and trusting that, in San Francisco, we’re always getting more than we give.