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Monday, April 11, 2005

A night to remember

Photo by Dan Fuehring

Our Gala at the Hult Center's Soreng Theater was a huge success. Our producer, Vicki Koch, worked tirelessly for months, and I was kept moderately busy as her publicity assistant. With help from many volunteers, we found enough sponsors, advertisers, and contributors to make sure every purchased ticket was in the black, and that there would be a show worth seeing.

Mother Kali's Bookstore was pleased to be a sponsor, had raffled tickets and promoted us to their loyal following. "Our banner will be flying in the Hult!" their newsletter proclaimed. Equity Foundation, another sponsor, sent four people all the way from Portland to table during the intermission and meet folks. The Human Rights Commission shared a lobby table with Equity, and Family Values, a support/advocacy organization for LGBTQ families with young children, shared a table with PFLAG's volunteers.

Lots of people came, the "Rainbow Circle" ($25) tickets did well, and we made almost $5,000.00 for LGBTQ Youth Programs in our area.

The show was great, too. The drag queens, from the Imperial Sovereign Court of the Emerald Empire and Shebang!, who were the originally envisioned performers, gave their all, and their charisma won over many who thought they wouldn't like drag shows. WYMPROV! is a wickedly funny improv group that teaches about ageism, sexism, homophobia, and the like, while keeping you in stitches! But the big audience-pleaser for many, especially the young women in the audience, was the new drag-king troupe, Kingdom Come, pulled together for the occasion by the energetic and hugely talented performer and choreographer, Katie Strong. The rap number was particularly amazing.

These disparate elements were stitched together by an electrifying emcee presence in the form of Alan Brown, whose stage persona, Sally B. Goode, pulled in the audience and kept us reminded of the good and beautiful things in life, while encouraging us to fight for the right of everyone to share in those things. Alan has trained young queens for years in the practical aspects of the entertainment business. "Each of them now knows how to put on a complete charity benefit in just about any venue," he said a few days later.

Beloved was there with me, in the front row, center, and Daughter was ten rows back, with her boyfriend. Scattered throughout the audience were many of the new friends I've made in the past year, and even a few from decades back.

In the third act, things halted for a bit so that Vicki could recognize the performers with roses. It was amazing to see how shy some of them were after such gutsy performances. Then I heard my own name.

"Risa, where are you, darling? Come up here!"


Daughter said she could hear calls of "Risa, Steffi!" from all over the room. Boyfriend said, "Hey, that's your other mom!" Strangers patted her on the shoulder.

Vicki gave me a bouquet of yellow flowers (they are still doing well on the dining room table), and said lovely, lovely things. They then turned me around and there was Sally B. Goode, holding a plush bunny in her arms. Sally's speech I cannot recall well, for by this time I was in tears, but I gather the bunny is in recognition of the lost decades without access to my true gender, and that Sally will be my big sister, since I never had one before.

omygod ... in front of over three hundred people, under a spotlight.

I'm not sure how I made it back to my seat. Beloved said, "Well ... luv, this is your night."

Yes ... should it all be downhill from here, it's a pretty good night to remember ...

The aftershow party was to be at Neighbors, a night spot owned by one of the sponsors, but some of our own group were under 21. So the family took me to an all-night restaurant, which had a straighter crowd than I felt like facing with my ruined mascara, but Hunnybunny (named for a pet French Lop rabbit from our dim past) sat in my lap in the booth and bravely waved to everyone that came by.

-- risa b


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