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Mime Troupe Performs American Dreams

The San Francisco Mime Troupe kicked off their 65th Season with AMERICAN DREAMS - A New Musical now through September 8th. The American Dream used to mean a job, a house, a car, a spouse, 2.5 kids & a 4 dog but what does it mean now? For some it is a good tide raising all boats, for others it is a tsunami that destroys everything. For some it is unity, for others it is dissolution. A handshake or a gun. One citizen’s dream has become another’s nightmare & those who fan the flames of the differences will gladly profit while democracy burns. AMERICAN DREAMS - A New Musical features a four-person cast that includes veteran SF Mime Troupe collective members Andre Amarotico (Oliver, Harold), Michael Gene Sullivan (Gabriel Pearse, Chancellor Quisling) & features Lizzie Calogero (Meliae Higgins, Emma) & Mikki Johnson (Paine Pearse). The musical is about Gabriel Pearce a Black man tired of liberal failures on the day after the presidential election. Giving up on progressivism wasn’t easy but casting his vote for a Conservative who promises to be grateful could mean a dream come true. However, for his daughter Paine - a teacher at a university caught between protesting students & threats to funding it’s a nightmare or was the lost election just a dream or will A.I. catch fire like Paine’s boyfriend Oliver sees in his nightmares. Whether you’re asleep or Woke what some see as nightmares others see as… American Dreams. AMERICAN DREAMS – A New Musical was written by Michael Gene Sullivan, Music & Lyrics by Daniel Savio with Velina Brown director & Dred Scott musical director. 

Boston Pride Drag Cruise Island Escape

We are entering very challenging times in America as reality & fantasy merge into the theatre of the absurd. How we move forward from here is completely up to our individual perceptions & common sense. Before the political events of the weekend I had fortunately signed up for the Boston Harbor Islands National & State Park Pride in the Park Community Cruise to Spectacle Island. The ferry departed promptly from Boston’s Long Wharf North at 4:30P at the Ferry Center building & Gate A2 adjacent to Christopher Columbus Park & the Long Wharf Marriott. The line to board extended the length of the wharf as friendly organizers checked in hundreds of passengers placing rainbow beaded bracelets on our wrists. Escaping from the summer heat & nonstop redundant news coverage of the weekend political events this cruise became the perfect diversion to regroup with the Boston LGBTQ community for a free 3-hour getaway. Once the ferry departed from the gate & the sea air washed over me, I knew I was at the right place at the right time surrounded by like minds & friends. As we approached Spectacle Island I felt my heart open & embraced an unforgettable evening filled with music, art activities & drag performances hosted by the iconic Mizery! We packed a picnic dinner but purchase food & snacks were available from Zaz. The event on Spectacle Island was non-alcoholic but there was a DIY mocktail bar & water was provided. Then we were entertained for hours by the fabulous Mizery & her team of drag queens lip synching & dancing to classic disco. As adventure came to an end we returned to Boston watching the sun set over the skyline & knew that after our 3-hour tour we were ready to take on tomorrow. Catch Mizery tonight at Club Cafe for Drag Bingo.

LGBTQ Leaders Address Title IX Rollback

House Republicans have passed Congressional Review Act (CRA) that reverses the Biden Administration’s crucial Title IX changes that clarified & expanded protections for our LGBTQ students. The CRA strips the Education Department of its power to protect LGBTQ youth from discrimination in school. Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, GLSEN Executive Director stated, "In their relentless campaign to push LGBTQ+ children back into the closet, House Republicans have passed another futile bill that would erase civil rights protections & tie the hands of federal enforcement agencies charged with ensuring safe schools. If the Congressional Review Act resolution becomes law, essential updates to Title IX will be undone, leaving LGBTQ+ youth without vital protections against bullying, harassment & assault. GLSEN stands with the broad coalition of students, educators, parents, mental health professionals & community members who want to ensure that schools are safe & secure learning environments, free from harassment & discrimination. It’s deeply troubling that so many members of Congress would stand in the way of federal actions that could help communities across the country reach that goal & we look to the Senate to prevent such a regressive resolution from advancing any further.” Allen Morris, National LGBTQ Task Force Policy Director concluded, “Transphobia & misogyny are at the root of today’s House proceedings. Repealing protections for LGBTQ youth, in particular trans youth & those whose safety is compromised on campuses & other spaces is unconscionable & hateful. Congress must act swiftly to overturn this dangerous ruling & reimplement the protections established by the Biden Administration. We also implore the Senate to hold the line for transgender lives & the larger LGBTQ+ community. Now is not the time to fold to political pressure or give extremists a platform for hatred, discrimination & violence to thrive.” 

Berlin Pussy Riot Staged Rage Takeover

Pussy Riot staged a performance of RAGE at Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie with 60 Pussy Riot members participating involving a large-scale installation, smoke sculpture, their signature balaclavas & directed by Nadya Tolokonnikova. Berlin police estimated over 2500 people in attendance even through the Berlin rain & witnessed a rainbow appearing during the performance. A rainbow is considered an extremist symbol in Russia according to the latest law labeling LGBTQ symbols. Pussy Riot Siberia is the name of the music core of this performance that included Nadya Tolokonnikova, Max Lawton, Riley Bray & John Caldwell. Nadya Tolokonnikova stated, “This performance is dedicated to all who lost their freedom & life fighting with the dictatorship. Love is stronger than death.” Klaus Biesenbach, director of the Neue Nationalgalerie concluded, “A loud & peaceful act of solidarity to all political prisoners who lost their freedom for speaking out, like Nadya herself when she performed in Moscow, at age 22, in 2012 when she was sentenced to nearly 2 years of prison.” Nadya Tolokonnikova’s RAGE exhibition is running now through October 20th at Austria’s museum OK Linz. Pussy Riot is a Russian feminist protest & performance art group based in Moscow that became popular for its provocative punk rock music which later turned into a more accessible style. Founded in the fall of 2011 by 22-year-old Nadya Tolokonnikova the group staged unauthorized, provocative guerrilla gigs in public places. These performances were filmed as music videos & posted on the internet. The group's lyrical themes included feminism, LGBTQ rights & opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin & his policies including links to the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church. 

Circus Bella 15th Park Season (AUDIO)

This week I talked with transgender acrobat Toni Cannon about Circus Bella's new show "WOW!" that’s happening now through July 20th celebrating its 15th annual Circus in the Parks Season in San Francisco, CA. This fabulous exhilarating show that launched last month continues to delight & astonish audiences of all ages. Experience the mesmerizing magic of "WOW!" offering a modern twist on one-ring circus & presenting a captivating blend of circus enchantment & madcap mayhem. Circus Bella’s diverse troupe of acrobats, aerialists, jugglers & clowns from the Bay Area & beyond performs to the lively tunes of Rob Reich & the 6-piece Circus Bella All-Star Band. Circus Bella thrives in its mission to produce & present high-quality Circus Arts entertainment accessible to all audiences. Their vision is to be a classical circus attuned to the present. They pursue excellence in a modern one-ring circus combining past traditions with forward-thinking sensibilities & flair. Circus Bella honors diversity & universal human potential as a proud member of the multinational circus community. In celebrating the beauty of circus art they delight in unifying people with experiences that cross age, culture & language barriers with joyous performances. Their new show "WOW!" is written & directed by Abigail Munn with music composed by Rob Reich & costumes by Autumn Adamme. Performances run approximately 60 minutes & are free to the public but bring picnic blankets & small folding chairs to all locations since Circus Bella does not provide audience seating at events. I talked to Toni about what he hopes to accomplish performing with Circus Bella & his spin on our LGBTQ issues. LISTEN  

LGBTQ Health Care Protections Blocked

A District Court judge has ordered a nationwide preliminary injunction that blocks enforcement of the newly finalized LGBTQ non-discrimination protections under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for Americans who experience discrimination based on their gender identity. Kelley Robinson, Human Rights Campaign President stated, “The discrimination LGBTQ+ people will continue to experience under this injunction is indefensible. This ruling is not only morally wrong, it's also bad policy. Everyone deserves access to the medical care they need to be healthy & thrive. Instead, this court has sided with the fringe groups & politicians who want to bully our community at every opportunity. This isn’t over: all LGBTQ+ people should receive the health care they deserve and be able to make informed decisions about our own bodies.” The consequences of this preliminary injunction will impact many patients across the country including denial of coverage for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) that trans people regularly need. It will also allow verbal or physical abuse from doctors or other medical providers directed at LGBTQ+ patients & the ability to turn away LGBTQ people in emergency situations because of their gender identity. Without enforcement of Section 1557 against discrimination based on gender identity health care providers who receive federal funding may also be encouraged to discriminate, limit or deny coverage & under some circumstances deny critical access to necessary medical services for patients in need. This all happened as the Biden-Harris administration who promised to stand with transgender young people took a position opposing best practice gender-affirming surgeries for transgender youth.

Connecticut LGBTQ Film Fest Winners

Out Film CT, Connecticut’s LGBTQ Film Festival announced the winners of the prestigious Audience Award & Jury Award for the 37th installment of this festival featuring the work of LGBTQ filmmakers & storytellers from around the globe. Shane Engstrom Out Film CT Festival Director stated, “Our audience enthusiastically embraced the return of the festival to June & they appreciated the opportunity to watch the best of LGBTQ+ cinema from all over the world. Based on the extremely high Audience Award scores, it’s clear that our audience embraced these international stories, awarding their top three picks to films from Spain, Austria & Belgium." Winner of the Audience Award for Best Feature went to “Love & Revolution” (Spain) a sassy comedy about a young man who comes out with the help of a group of revolutionaries & the transformation of his very traditional mother into a surprisingly active crusader for LGBTQ rights in 1977 Spain. The Winner of the Jury Award for Best Feature went to “Listen Up!” (Norway) about a goofy, awkward, yet ultimately loveable 13-year-old Pakistani immigrant living in Norway who uses his wickedly offbeat sense of humor to decode integration, gender identity, class & family dynamics. For the first time the Out Film CT Jury has awarded a Best Ensemble Award to the cast and crew of the short film The Fuscos. Engstrom concluded, “The Jury was very impressed by the cohesive performances in the film & it was clear from the cast & crew’s presence at the festival that their close relationships went far beyond their roles. Their film & their presence brought joy, smiles & laugher.” This year’s Out Film CT included 70+ features, documentaries & short films across in-person & virtual screenings. 

New Transgender Refuge Map Project

In order to combat the violence & dehumanization of our transgender community the Queer Equity Institute (QEI) has announced a new project aimed to quantify the safety of the trans community in individual states & to give the community the tools & education they need to fight back against attacks. Leigh Finke, Executive Director of the Queer Equity Institute & the first out trans elected member of the Minnesota State Legislature stated, “This is a dangerous time for trans people across America. There is a well-funded, nationally coordinated movement to dehumanize trans people across America. The result of this effort allows for acts of violence & the denial of our basic human rights. This hateful movement has created an environment where anti-transgender politicians have been allowed to pass hateful legislation. Often, acts of violence & even murder go unpunished if our community does not bear the burden of immediately & forcibly bring public attention to those cases. The Trans Refuge Project is an effort for everyone concerned with the safety & humanity of the trans community to fill the protection gap that is being created by the failure of politicians & others to fight against these acts of hate.” The Trans Refuge Project is beginning its work in the Midwest specifically in Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio & Wisconsin. In those states the Trans Refuge Project is using collected data as well as outreach to allies to build awareness & identify opportunities to create safe spaces for the trans community. QEI is also doing outreach in other states to draw attention to the gaps in safety & access that members of the trans community face & point them to resources that can help. 

Help Is On The Way 30th Concert & Gala

The Richmond/Ermet Aid Foundation is presenting its 30th Anniversary "Help is on the Way" Concert & Gala on Sunday July 14th at the Marines' Memorial Theater & Beacon Grand Hotel in San Francisco. "Help Is On The Way" is one of San Francisco’s longest-running benefit concerts featuring a bevy of stars from Broadway, TV, film & the recording industry. The concert will feature cast members from the Broadway touring cast of "Mrs. Doubtfire" including its star Rob McClure & while you won't hear the music from the " Mrs. Doubtfire " touring show you can expect to hear some other fabulous songs as cast members join guest performers from Broadway, TV & Film. Additional entertainers will include Grammy Award-winner Debby Boon, Jason Brock from X-Factor, Broadway “Wicked” star David Burnham, Broadway star Sam Harris (The Life) & Star Search winner, Tony Award Winner Faith Prince, Broadway star of “Phantom of the Opera” Lisa Vroman, Broadway star Jennifer Leigh Warren, Jazz Star Paula West & Broadway star/comedian Bruce Vilanch with Musical Director Michael Orland. "Help is on the Way" 30th will also honor Bruce Vilanch with REAF's Lifetime Achievement Award & this event will be  dedicated to the memory of long-time REAF supporter Jon Leitner. Kenneth Henderson, Executive Director of the Richmond/Ermet AID Foundation stated, “People think the AIDS epidemic is over & we don't need to pay attention to it anymore. Events like "Help is on the Way" serve not only to raise funds for local AIDS services but to remind people that there's still a need for funding them. More people are living with HIV & AIDS than ever before in history.” The 30th Gala event consists of a Broadway-style performance & a nightclub-themed after party with the cast. The event benefits Project Open Hand & REAF’s Small Emergency Grants Program. 

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Mime Troupe Performs American Dreams

The San Francisco Mime Troupe kicked off their 65th Season with AMERICAN DREAMS - A New Musical now through September 8th. The American Drea...

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