Image - faces of panelists

Past Event

Drug Use, the Pandemic, and LGBTQ People

COVID-19 has disrupted many of our lives, with impacts ranging from job loss to housing changes, physical health issues to mental health challenges. At the same time, drug use has increased since the pandemic first struck and has deeply affected many LGBTQ people. 

Join us for an important discussion on the impact of drugs and the search for healthy ways of coping with the pandemic and life's other challenges.

About the Speakers

Kristen Marshall has been loved by people who use drugs her entire life. She has also served them across communities and experiences for a decade in San Francisco at syringe access and frontline harm reduction programs, as well as in residential and nightlife communities, and currently oversees community-based overdose prevention initiatives in the city at the National Harm Reduction Coalition as the Associate Director of San Francisco Programs. She currently lives, laughs, and loves in San Francisco. (photo coming).

Wayne Rafus has worked in social services for 25 years with relevant experience in harm reduction, HIV prevention and education, workforce development, integrated dual diagnosis and treatment, community outreach and substance use management. He says, "When human beings experience trauma or severe life stressors, it is not uncommon for their lives to unravel. My passion is bringing healing to people who have experienced traumatic stressful life events. I help my clients to find healthy perceptions of themselves to strengthen their relationships so they can know themselves as peaceful, complete, whole and safe." He is currently manager of Contingency Management, providing compassionate substance use management services to people who inject drugs and people who smoke drugs at the 6th Street Harm Reduction Center.

Sister Roma, aka "the Most Photographed Nun in the World," has been one of the most outspoken and highly visible members of San Francisco's Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence for more than three decades. From fighting on the front lines in the war against HIV/AIDS to taking on social media giant Facebook as the creator of the #MyNameIs movement, Roma has dedicated more than half her life to community service, activism and fundraising. She is a proud accomplice to the trans and QBIPOC communities, and an advocate for LGBTQ refuge and asylum. Rising to the challenges of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Roma partnered with the SFDPH, Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, and the mayor’s Covid Response Team to create the Sisters’ #PracticeSafeSix mask campaign to raise awareness and promote health and wellness city-wide.

But don't get it twisted, this sister is no saint! Her colorful wit and sharp tongue have made Roma one of San Francisco’s favorite entertainers and emcees, landing her front and center on the main stages of SF Pride, Folsom Street Fair, and Easter in the Park where she emcees the infamous Hunky Jesus Contest. A frequent guest on television and radio, Roma is blessed to travel the globe as an LGBTQ ambassador and event host, striving to uphold her sisterly vows to expiate stigmatic guilt and promulgate universal joy.

Juniper Yun is a South-Korean born, Bay Area-based visual artist and writer whose work explores themes of identity, desire and transformation. As a transgender woman of color, Yun utilizes an interdisciplinary approach of art-making, writing and cultural studies to empower her communities. Through using traditional methods of her heritage (such as paper and dye-craft) and remixing it with new media, storytelling and performance, Yun creates work that lives in the light and the dark; in the past, present and future. Yun also works as director of cultural affairs for The Transgender District in San Francisco, the world's first legally recognized district dedicated to those of the transgender experience.


This is a free, online-only program; please pre-register to receive a link to the live-stream event.

We welcome any donations made during registration to support the production of our online programming.

See more upcoming (and past) Michelle Meow Show programs at The Commonwealth Club.

Main image by Andrew Jay/Unsplash.

September 9, 2021

United States

Image - Kristen Marshall

Kristen Marshall

Associate Director of San Francisco Programs, National Harm Reduction Coalition

Image - Wayne Rafus

Wayne Rafus

Manager of Contingency Management, 6th Street Harm Reduction Center

Image - Sister Roma

Sister Roma

Member, Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence; Entertainer; Activist

Image - Juniper Yun

Juniper Yun

Artist, Director of Cultural Affairs, The Transgender District in San Francisco

Image - Michelle Meow

Michelle Meow

Producer and Host, "The Michelle Meow Show," KBCW TV and Podcast; Member, Commonwealth Club Board of Governors; Twitter @msmichellemeow—Host


noon–1 p.m. program
(all times PDT)