Press Release from…

The Commonwealth Club of California

595 Market Street ¨ San Francisco, CA 94105

                                                                                           Contacts:  Riki Rafner, 415.597.6712


For Immediate Release





Featuring James C. Hormel, Nancy C. Unger, Donna Sachet, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Donald P. Francis, Gregory M. Herek, Daniel Curzon, and Bill Issel


SAN FRANCISCO  (June 26, 2014) “THE LGBT JOURNEY” – from the Mattachine Society to Harvey Milk and the White Night Riots to federal marriage equality and beyond, the LGBT journey has built on the lessons of the earlier civil rights movement with great success. In recent years, it has reached milestones with remarkable speed. But the journey isn’t quite over. This August, The Commonwealth Club is presenting a range of programs exploring The LGBT Journey from a variety of viewpoints.


The LGBT Journey will highlight icons of politics, scholarship, art and entertainment to explore the new era of LGBT life in the U.S.  The speakers will share their own histories of activism and discuss where they have been and where they are going in terms of human rights for LGBT people. 


The founder and organizer of the Club’s annual August series known as Platforum programs, Dr. Carol Fleming, says, “The Commonwealth Club is thrilled to be focusing on the LGBT community this coming August.  We’re excited to share new ideas and bring the tremendous contributions and varied issues of this community to the awareness of San Francisco and beyond.”


The first event of the series, “From Ignorance to Acceptance: How the LGBTQ Movement Has Evolved in a Lifetime,” taking place on Monday, August 4, at 6 p.m., will feature the first openly gay U.S. former ambassador to Luxembourg, James Hormel. Hormel, who currently sits on the Board of Governors of the Commonwealth Club of California, is also the author of Fit To Serve: Reflections on a Secret Life, Private Struggle, and Public Battle to Become the First Openly Gay U.S. Ambassador, and is a philanthropist and a political activist. James Hormel realized that he was gay at a time when homosexuality was not discussed or accepted. He will review the social history of the United States since 1945 to see how LGBT Americans progressed from exclusion to inclusion. Looking toward the future, he will discuss the key to the advancement of equality.


Jason Collins is a professional American basketball player who publicly came out as gay at the end of the 2012-2013 NBA season and is the first openly gay athlete to participate in any of the four American professional sports leagues.  Nancy C. Unger is an acclaimed LGBT historian and the author of several books and publications, including, Beyond Nature's Housekeepers: American Women in Environmental History. Local celebrity Donna Sachet, one of the most celebrated drag queens, will reflect on drag as art. The often-controversial Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence’s “Sistory” will be highlighted in a novel way (with requisite discussion).  Dr. Donald P. Francis, an epidemiologist and HIV/AIDS researcher, was working in his field during the HIV/AIDS crisis in the early to mid-eighties and will share his insights and perspective.  Dr. Gregory Herek, professor of psychology at UC Davis and a global authority on prejudice against sexual minorities, anti-gay violence, and AIDS-related stigma, will share his vision for the future.  Acclaimed novelist, playwright, and educator Daniel Curzon will delight with his new work, The Big Book of In-Your-Face Gay Etiquette.  San Francisco State University and Mills College Professor William (Bill) Issel will talk about local LGBT conflict with the Catholic Church.


The programs will take place at the Commonwealth Club’s headquarters at 595 Market St., 2nd floor, San Francisco. For tickets call (415) 597-6705 or register at  Media interested in attending should please RSVP to by noon, day of event. 


"LGBT Journey" August Lineup:


"LGBT Art - Our Common Wealth"

(Ongoing Art Exhibition from July 21 until Sept. 18th, part of August Platforum)

The Queer Cultural Center will look at the art that comes from LGBT artists as a foundation on which to build their community — their common wealth and direction. It is often ahead of the political or social movements in sensing what things are important or significant for them … and sometimes it's just fun. This exhibit will look at diversity in the LGBT community, from the artists themselves to their chosen disciplines; it will showcase woven and embroidered fabric, photography, painting, drawing and even a small installation.


July 29, 2014: Exhibition Reception and Walk-Through

Join The Commonwealth Club and members of The Queer Cultural Center with artists from the exhibition,” LGBT Art - Our Common Wealth,” for a reception and walk-through of the exhibit. Artists Rudy Lemcke, Lenore Chinn, Bren Ahearn, Indira Allegra and Preston Gannaway will join curator Pamela Peniston in an examination of their work and a discussion of their art.


From Ignorance to Acceptance: How the LGBTQ Movement Has Evolved in a Lifetime

Mon, Aug 4 2014 - 6:00pm, MLF: International Relations

James C. Hormel, Former U.S. Ambassador, Luxembourg; Author; Philanthropist; Political Activist


James Hormel will review the social history of the United States since 1945 to see how LGBTQ Americans have moved from exclusion to inclusion. He will also explore ways in which equality should and must advance both nationally and globally.


Trans in the Tenderloin: A Story of Community Resilience

Tue, Aug 5 2014 - 5:15pm, MLF: Psychology

Robyn L. Stukalin, MS, LCSW


When Marilyn, featured in the film "Transgender Tuesdays," was asked about the discrimination experienced by transgender people, she replied without hesitation, “we are more discriminated against than any other people in these United States.” The 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Study found that “transgender and gender non-conforming people face rampant discrimination in every area of life: education, employment, family life, public accommodations, housing, health, police and jails and ID documents.” And things are worse for trans people of color whose pervasive experience of minority stress due to their gender identity is exacerbated by racism. What are the experiences like for those with fewer resources, like the people who live in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district? Gender specialist and psychotherapist Stukalin will look at the effect that trauma and discrimination have on the lives of trans and gender non-conforming people and at the resilience shown by members of the transgender community.


When Gay Isn’t Global: How Organizations Remain LGBT Friendly When a Nation Isn’t

Tue, Aug 5, 2014 – 6:00PM, MLF: LGBT

DJ Peterson, President, Longview Capital Advisors


The world has never been more divided on the issue of LGBT equality. The impact of anti-LGBT laws extends beyond local citizens and visitors, however; they create deep challenges for companies operating cross-border. Join DJ and corporate leaders in an exploration of the successes and challenges of maintaining an authentic commitment to corporate values on a global scale. How are executives “looking beyond” and being bigger than their business?


LGBT Retirement Living: A Panel Discussion about Exclusive vs. Inclusive Communities

Wed, Aug 6 2014 - 5:15pm, MLF: Grownups

Marcy Adelman, Ph.D., LGBT Activist; Founder, Open House


Dr. Adelman will highlight some of the remarkable societal changes that have brought the LGBT community to the point of having its own retirement living options. A discussion will follow with panelists from The Sequoias in San Francisco and Fountaingrove Lodge in Santa Rosa. They’ll talk about their choices to live in their respective communities – one a traditional retirement community and the other an LGBT-inspired retirement option.


The Quest for an HIV/AIDS Vaccine

Thu, Aug 7 2014 - 6:00pm, MLF: Health & Medicine

Donald P. Francis, M.D.,D.Sc., Executive Director, Global Solutions for Infectious Diseases; Former Director, AIDS Laboratory, Centers for Disease Control


HIV was identified in 1983. By that time, Donald Francis was already researching the virus in a Centers for Disease Control lab. Years later, with Francis’ help, the Bay Area company Genentech initiated efforts to develop a vaccine. At Genentech, candidate vaccines effectively protected chimpanzees from HIV infection and human trials were initiated. From Genentech, to a spin-off called VaxGen, and later to a nonprofit company called Global Solutions for Infectious Diseases, Francis will discuss his fierce quest for the creation of an HIV vaccine.


What Is the Arts Mainstream?

Fri, Aug 8 2014 - 12:00pm, MLF: Arts

Brad Erickson, Playwright; Executive Director, Theatre Bay Area; Additional panelists TBA


Playwright and arts advocate Brad Erickson will lead a panel of arts leaders in identifying memorable landmarks in the mainstreaming of LGBT themes and artists since the 1980s. The panel will also frame the questions about what needs to be done further and the challenges of today.


An Evening with NBA Star Jason Collins

Mon, Aug 11 2014 – 6:30pm; INFORUM at the Castro Theater


Jason Collins is a professional American basketball center for the Brooklyn Nets of the National Basketball Association. Collins attended Stanford University where he played basketball and was also named an All-American in 2000-2001. At the of the 2012-2013 NBA season, Collins publicly came out as gay and has received much praise and support since the announcement. Collins is the first publicly gay athlete to participate in any of the four American pro sports leagues.


The Men's Story Project

Mon, Aug 11 2014 - 6:00pm, MLF: Humanities

Josie Lehrer, ScD, Founder/Director, Men’s Story Project; Senior Technical Specialist, Gender, Violence


Monday Night Philosophy will highlight The Men's Story Project, a replicable storytelling and dialogue project in which men publicly share life stories that explore social ideas about masculinity, through the lens of their own experience. The MSP highlights men's stories that are less often heard, breaks the silence on issues including sexism, racism, homo/transphobia, ableism and violence, celebrates men’s beauty and humanity and stimulates critical dialogue on masculinities. The MSP aims to help expand the presence of genuine self-expression, health and justice in communities.


Long Journey to Stonewall: An Illustrated History

Tue, Aug 12 2014 - 6:00pm, MLF: LGBT

Nancy C. Unger, Ph.D., Professor of History, Santa Clara University


Though tremendous gains are being made in revealing the long, rich, colorful, heartbreaking and inspiring history of LGBT people in the United States, often that history is reduced to the Stonewall Riots or, especially here in California, the life and martyrdom of Harvey Milk. This illustrated presentation will highlight the documented presence of people acting on same-sex desires as early as the 1600s, actions sometimes surprisingly well-tolerated within their communities. We’ll follow the transformation of women’s “romantic friendships” into “Boston Marriages,” before the medicalization of homosexuality and the widespread “Beware the Lesbian!” campaign made loving relationships between women suspect.


Closing the Gap: Crucial Transgender Issues Today

Wed, Aug 13 2014 - 6:00pm, MLF: LGBT

Cecilia Chung, Health Commissioner, City and County of San Francisco; Former Chair, San Francisco Human Rights Commission; Senior Strategist, Transgender Law Center; International Health Care Consultant and Advocate


Despite incredible recent strides by the LGBT community in federal law, marriage equality and increased positive visibility in the media, the transgender community experiences a gap separating it from the rest of the LGBT community. Issues of violence, economic justice, and HIV in the transgender community are at a critical point today demanding education, action, and commitment. Join internationally renowned expert Cecilia Chung, who will explore the challenges — and solutions — that could bring all people toward full equality.


Shakespeare LGBT: the Bard and Gay and Transgender roles

Thurs, Aug 14, 2014 – 6:00pm, MLF: Business & Leadership

Jonathon Moscone, Artistic Director, California Shakespeare Company Other panelists TBD.


How have California’s long established theater companies encountered, engaged and presented LGBT themes in Shakespeare — from cross-dressing to gender confusion to openly gay love — including one company led by an openly gay man who was recently married in a high-level ceremony? Live performances of classic scenes from Shakespeare will be presented.


Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants: Authentic LGBT Marketing Success

Fri, Aug 15, 2014 – 12:00pm, MLF: Business & Leadership

Steve Pinetti, Sr. Vice-President Inspiration and Creativity, Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant Group


Pinetti will tell us how one progressive boutique hotel chain changed the face of modern marketing by addressing an authentic and open outreach campaign to the LGBT community.  It harnessed their support and engagement – launching in San Francisco and then around the country through transforming a social vision into solid financial results. Learn from one of the key minds behind this initiative how to apply these lessons to today’s evolving marketplace.


Gregory M. Herek: Beyond "Homophobia": Thinking More Clearly about Sexual Stigma and Prejudice Mon, Aug 18 2014 - 6:00pm, MLF: Science & Technology

Gregory M. Herek, Ph.D.; Professor of Psychology, University of California, Davis


The concept of homophobia – a word first coined in the 1960s – has played an important role in shifting society’s focus onto the problem of prejudice against people who aren’t heterosexual. But the word homophobia conveys a variety of assumptions that can actually limit people’s thinking. Drawing from social science research findings, including his own studies over the past 30 years, Herek will explain the value of looking beyond the usual conceptions of homophobia to develop a better understanding of stigma, discrimination and prejudice against sexual minorities, and to formulate effective strategies for changing attitudes.


The Big Book of In-Your-Face Gay Etiquette

Aug 21, 2014 – 6:00pm, MLF: Environment

Daniel Curzon, Author and Social, Cultural and Environmental Holiness Critic


Join Curzon for a mix of hilarious and informative guidelines for "proper gay behavior" in the Big Book of In-Your-Face Gay Etiquette. Better yet, bring your ideas and interpretations of your favorite Curzon book, poem and fiction about what is really happening here and now in San Francisco and the world. Toss in an evening of fun, etiquette and cable car secrets you really agree with — all together for an evening that you and your friends will not forget!


The San Francisco LGBT Struggle for Freedom Revisited: Catholic Power and the Right to the City

Mon, Aug 25 2014 - 6:00pm, MLF: Humanities

Bill Issel, Professor of History Emeritus, San Francisco State University


The LGBT movement of the 20th century became one of the challenges to Catholic power that Walter Lippmann called "the acids of modernity." Bill Issel's new book, Church and State in the City, describes how, in San Francisco, the church and laypeople worked to make it a Catholic city. They wanted to make their city a place where residents would be secure against modernity's incursions. By the 1940s, Catholic power reached its zenith just as LGBT newcomers began demanding equal rights to the city. This story helps explain for some the city's robust opposition to LGBT activists' call for broader American freedoms in the 1950s and beyond.


Marriage, the Movement and More: A Political and Legal Understanding of What LGBT Families Are Facing

Mon, Aug 25 2014 - 6:00pm, MLF: Bay Gourmet

Deb Kinney, Partner, Johnston, Kinney & Zulaica, LLP

Juan Barajas, Development Director, Freedom to Marry

Deb Wald, Founder & Senior Partner, Wald Law Group


Juan Barajas from Freedom to Marry, the campaign to win marriage equality nationwide, will present the strategies being employed throughout the country to get marriage rights, including an up to date analysis of how the movement is advancing and what can be expected in the future. Deb Wald of the Wald Law Group will explain the challenges and advancements of parenting and adoption rights, including the new three-parent law in California. Deb L. Kinney of Johnston Kinney and Zulaica LLP will talk about the legal and tax implications and complexities facing LGBT families, married or not.


How Did Marriage Equality Go Mainstream: Evolution or Revolution?

Aug 26, 2014 – 6:00pm, MLF: Asia/Pacific Affairs

Stuart Gaffney & John Lewis

Speaker Details: Plaintiff Couple in the 2008 California Marriage Cases; Co-Directors, Marriage Equality USA


As one of the plaintiff couples in the landmark California marriage equality cases, Stuart and John will relate stories of everyday heroes working for the freedom to marry. As directors with Marriage Equality USA, Stuart and John have joined with many activists who, for over a decade, helped create the love revolution that is in full flower today. The speakers will describe how the freedom to marry stands on the shoulders of more than a half century of LGBT activism and how the movement for marriage equality is creating momentum for full LGBT equality in all aspects of people’s lives. While progress continues toward equality in all 50 states, we will also hear about Stuart and John’s work with activists in Japan as the movement goes global.


Up Close with Marga Gomez

August 27, 11:30 am, MLF: LGBT

Join the Commonwealth Club for a lunchtime discussion with award-winning solo performer Marga Gomez. Marga, comedian, writer and performer is a triple winner of SF Bay Guardian’s “Best Comedian”

award and received Theatre LA’s Ovation. Marga got her comedy start in San Francisco, where she honed her high-energy, proudly Latina, openly gay, slightly dorky, tragically sexy, laugh-getting act. Her television credits include HBO's "Comic Relief," Showtime's “Latino Laugh Festival,” and LOGO’s "One Night Stand Up.” Marga is also the author/performer of nine solo plays that have been produced nationally, internationally and Off Broadway. Her latest show, “Not Getting Any Younger,” received the SF Chronicle’s highest rating in 2011 and ran at the SF Marsh through June 2012.


The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence: Deviance, Justice & Art

Aug 28, 2014 – 6:00pm, MLF: LGBT

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is a global charitable order of sexual orientation and identity minorities and supporters who seek to vanquish stigma about LGBT life and address what they see as internalized homophobia within LGBT communities through art and social deviance.  The sisters dress as nuns in drag and participate in communities in a similar fashion to traditional Catholic nuns, but with a very different message and decorum.  From supporting LGBT non-profits through grant making and advocacy, to supporting the marginalized on an individual level, the group has been a positive force in the LGBT community since the early days of the LGBT rights movement.  This program will showcase the group as both social justice change agents and performance artists. They will describe what they have done so far and how they succeeded. There will be a retrospective of their costumes, donned by current members, and activities, followed by a discussion.



Harnessing the Power of the LGBT Marketplace and Social Capital to Drive Positive Social Change

Aug 28, 2014 – 6:00pm, MLF: Business & Leadership

Kevin Jones, Founder, Good Capital; Convener, SOCAP

Danielle Kinzaire-Sutton, M. D., community organizer; Principal Consultant at Notus-S.G.

Marc J. Lane, JD; author “Social Enterprise: Empowering Mission-driven Entrepreneurs”; Chairman, Illinois Task Force on Social Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Enterprise

Marc Loveless, Executive Director, Coalition for Justice and Respect

Charles Sutton, CEO, Bronzeville Urban Development

Kevin O’Malley, President, TechTalk | Studio, MODERATOR


Social capital, alternative funding and concern for the triple bottom line are now moving beyond generalities and into specific targeted areas and communities. Panelists will discuss the new movement that is harnessing the power and resources of Chicago’s African American LGBT community to create change through cutting-edge social enterprise initiatives. These include sustainable city farms and medical marijuana — and relying on innovative legal and financial structures of for-profit and non-profit stakeholders, donors, investors and governments.


Hollywood and the LGBT Journey

Fri, Aug 29 2014 - 12:00pm, MLF: Arts

Donna Sachet, Media Personality; Actor; Community Activist

Jan Wahl, Film Critic, KRON 4


Donna Sachet has been a San Francisco performer and icon for decades, from being elected Empress of San Francisco to serving as Grand Marshal for the SF Pride parade. In 2009, Sachet became the first drag performer to sing the national anthem at a Major League Baseball game. Donna Sachet and film critic Jan Wahl will "dish-cuss" The LGBT journey in Hollywood, past and present.



Founded in 1903, The Commonwealth Club of California is the nation’s premier public affairs forum, with more than 20,000 members.  Based in San Francisco and San Jose, the Club hosts over 450 speeches, debates and discussions each year on issues of regional, national and international significance.  The Club sponsors public policy projects on issues ranging from structural reform of state government to climate change and energy policy.  At least half a million people hear The Commonwealth Club’s weekly radio broadcasts on more than 230 stations across the country.  The Club also podcasts its programs and televises them on the California Channel, YouTube, and For the past century, The Club has fostered free speech and civic dialogue on wide-ranging topics, addressing key issues in society, culture, politics, the economy and more. For more information, visit


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