Pride Special: Ali Marrero-Calderon and Jewelle Gomez in conversation with Michelle Meow
In our final program before San Francisco Pride, come join us for a good conversation about the history and current practice of activism in the LGBTQ community.
We will be talking with Ali Marrero-Calderon, who will be honored at the SF Pride parade for her lifetime of commitment and involvement in the community. Born in Puerto Rico in 1948, Marrero-Calderon moved with her military family to Oakland when she was 15 years old. "I always knew I was a 'queer child from the age of seven," Marrero-Calderon tells us. "I came back to the Bay Area in 1969, when the gay revolution took off in this country. In the '70s I worked for gay rights, fighting against the Briggs Initiative. I was the only lesbian working with the Butterfly Brigade—a group of gay men—patrolling the Castro on the weekends making sure that the anti-gay violence was addressed by the DA's office. I was the only Puerto Rican dyke I knew in the Bay Area. In 1974 I was a member of GENTE, the first lesbian-of-color organization in the West. I was a member of the GALA—Gay Latino Alliance; I was one of two lesbians in the group when it started. I was also a member of Mujerio—a Latina Lesbian organization. I was involved with the Pride Parade as a safety supervisor and [working with the] main stage—back then it was the only stage—'til 1990. I worked with Shanti Project in the early days of the AIDS epidemic, providing services for men living and dying with the virus. I was with Dykes on Bikes since 1976 and became its first emeritus member. I was and continue to be a member of Michfest, the Womyn’s Music Festival."
Marrero-Calderon was recognized by Astrea for her work with OLOC (Old Lesbians Organizing for Change) and says she is "a proud Boricua (Puerto Rican Dyke) and love representing my community."
We'll also talk with Jewelle Gomez. Gomez was born in Boston where she was raised by her great grandmother. She graduated from Northeastern University and then from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York. She worked at WGBH-TV in the 1960s on the staff of one of the first weekly Black television shows, "Say Brother," then in New York on the pilot shows for "The Electric Company." She has taught creative writing and popular culture at institutions of higher learning from San Francisco State University to Hunter College (NYC).
She is the author of seven books, including the double Lambda Literary Award-winning vampire novel, The Gilda Stories, whose 25th anniversary edition was recently published by City Lights Books. She’s written for numerous publications including The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, Ms magazine, Black Scholar, The Advocate and the Bay Times. She’s playwright in residence at New Conservatory Theatre Center, which produced “Waiting for Giovanni,” her play about James Baldwin, and “Leaving the Blues,” about singer/songwriter Alberta Hunter. Her next play, “Unpacking in Ptown,” will open New Conservatory’s 40th anniversary season in 2021.
She was the recipient of a National Endowment on the Arts Fellowship in Literature and two California Arts Council Artist in Residence grants. In 2017 she received the Barbary Coast Trailblazer Award from LitQuake. She was on the founding boards of Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the Astraea Lesbian Foundation, and the Open Meadows Foundation. She was previously the director of grants at the San Francisco Arts Commission and Horizons LGBT Foundation; and the director of the Poetry Center and American Poetry Archives (SFSU). Until recently she was the president of the San Francisco Public Library Commission.
Join us as Michelle Meow brings her long-running daily radio show to The Commonwealth Club one day each week. Meet fascinating—and often controversial—people discussing important issues of interest to the LGBTQ community, and have your questions ready.
See more upcoming Michelle Meow Shows at The Commonwealth Club here.
The Commonwealth Club
110 The Embarcadero
Max Thelen Boardroom
San Francisco, 94105