Flore OK to open cannabis dispensary


Castro locals and visitors alike may soon have a new place to get the munchies. Flore (formerly known as Cafe Flore) received unanimous approval from San Francisco Planning Commission in October to open a cannabis dispensary directly across the street from the patio cafe and restaurant.


Replacing nail salon Gloss ‘n Glam at 258 Noe Street, Flore’s pot shop will be known as Flore Store, according to SF Weekly.


Flore has history as a hub of cannabis activism. In 1996 at Cafe Flore, Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary conceptualized Prop. 215, known as the Medical Use of Marijuana Initiative.


Nearly 25 years later, where Californians are able to buy and consume cannabis is still up for debate, and the Flore Store deal is not yet inked. Residents could appeal the decision to the Board of Supervisors.


In the meantime, while we await the final green light of the Flore Store, here are other non-cannabis related activities happening in Castro District this month:



Questions about 2020 health coverage?


November 14 (5 pm - 8 pm)

Strut - 470 Castro Street


If you need health insurance to help pay for HIV meds, PrEP, hormone therapy, hepatitis C meds, surgeries, or have other medical needs, now is the time to sign up for Covered California. Covered California is our state’s health insurance marketplace for affordable health insurance.


To get coverage for 2020, sign up before January 15, 2020 at coveredca.com. If you have questions, want to learn more, or are ready to sign up, attend this info session.


This info session will:


• Discuss HIV & PrEP medication coverage


• Provide info for people who have never purchased health insurance before


• Explain what health insurance is, and how it works


• Answer questions about how to use your health insurance


This event is being held at Strut (470 Castro St) at the third floor lobby. Sexual Health Services and PrEP Enrollments from 5pm-6:30pm. Presentation starts at 6:30pm


Text QTPOC to 474747 if you have any questions!


Accessibility at Strut: There are no stairs to enter the lobby level at Strut from the street level. The building has three floors, and there is a stairwell with handrails and a wheelchair accessible elevator. There are 26 steps from the lobby to the 2nd floor and 48 steps from the lobby to the 3rd floor.



Trans Voices’ final show of 2019


November 21 (5 pm - 8:30 pm)

Strut - 470 Castro Street, 3rd floor lobby


Love music? Love poetry? Want to come to a free show that will move and excite you? Join the Strut team for a night of incredible performances by trans artists and performers. This show will be hosted and guest curated by the incredible Pearl Teese!


Trans Voices was created by Julian Shendelman and Kay Nilsson and has been putting on shows focusing on trans artists since 2016 at Strut. The show is free! Bring your friends! There will be snacks and wine. QTPOC at Strut is super happy to have Trans Voices take over one of our QTPOC Thursdays again!


Testing and PrEP appointments from 5 PM to 6 PM. TRANS VOICES welcomes you at 6:30, literary show starts at 7 PM. Text QTPOC to 474747 if you have any questions about our Thursday nights!



Wise Up! program for learning and living well at any age


November 24 (3:30 pm - 4:30 pm)Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Library (1 Jose Sarria Court)


Whether you’re looking for help with research, getting more comfortable with computers, reading books on your smartphone, streaming movies through Kanopy, or something else entirely, this is the program for you. Sign up or drop in for a half hour or an hour of a librarian’s undivided attention and assistance! Activities for seniors and older adults. SFPL offers free computer and technology classes. Learn anything from computer comfort to coding. Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter and class schedule.


Light in the Grove/World AIDS Day 2019 Volunteer Shifts


Nov. 25 (10 am) – Tuesday, Dec. 3 (2 pm)

National AIDS Memorial Grove, Golden Gate Park


The National AIDS Memorial’s annual Light in the Grove fundraising gala and World AIDS Day National Observance is quickly approaching, and they would love to have volunteer support.


Completely unique, Light in the Grove draws national media attention and is attended by over 700 guests. Held on the eve of World AIDS Day, guests experience a moving candlelight reflection at the Circle of Friends, the heart of the Memorial, then walk through our spectacularly-illuminated Redwood Grove to a warmly-lit banquet tent. Inside, guests enjoy cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and a buffet dinner with special musical and artistic performances.


They will also be hosting the World AIDS Day National Observance on December 1. World AIDS Day presents a time to remember those who came before us; acknowledge national leaders and unsung heroes; raise awareness about the ongoing impact of HIV/AIDS; and acknowledge emerging young leaders in the fight to end it.


Lunch will be provided Wednesday and Saturday, with a special volunteer appreciation meal prepared by our caterer at 4 pm Saturday for all event volunteers. Visit aidsmemorial.org for more info.


Holiday Tree Lighting


December 2 (6pm)

Castro and 18th Streets


Join in the holiday gaiety at the Holiday Tree Lighting ceremony outside Bank of America.


Castro Art Walk


December 5 (6 pm - 9 pm)

Castro business corridor


Every first Thursday of the month, participating locations extend their business hours to host special events and share artwork with the neighborhood. Join the art walk for a self-guided experience through the creativity of the Castro.


• • • Also in the November Issue • • •

Peaches Christ & Edwin Outwater


SF Symphony Gets Gay!


Holiday Gaiety is the lovechild of co-emcees Edwin Outwater and Peaches Christ, who co-created the show three years ago, with its first production premiering in 2017. Edwin Outwater, who also conducts the San Francisco Symphony during the festivities, chatted to Castro Courier about this season’s spectacular lineup.


Wendy: You’ve described Holiday Gaiety as something of a holiday party, but with the San Francisco Symphony.


Edwin: The format is based on those old variety shows from the ‘60’s, in someone’s living room. People ring the doorbell, and come in and perform. Kind of a gay Andy Williams Christmas Special.


Wendy: What has your working relationship with Peaches on this project been like?


Edwin: Oh, my partner in crime! I met Peaches through this project, and Peaches is one of the most wonderful treasures of San Francisco and beyond, and is so funny, so creative, and so enterprising. I look forward to many projects [to come] through the years. We just love working together. Who knew that a conductor and a drag queen would end up with such a deep partnership, but she’s one of my favorite collaborators. We both love to make new and exciting things happen.


Wendy: You’re co-emcees, but as you’d said, you’re also the conductor. How does that work? How you move from conducting the San Francisco Symphony to your role as co-emcee?


Edwin Outwater © Sean Puckett

Edwin: We have lots of humor and little bits in between each guest and each number, so we have almost a theatrical thing [happening], and then I magically hop on the podium and conduct whatever they choose to sing. We came up with the show because we thought a lot of people would want some version of the holidays that might not be all for kids, that could be fun for the adults to celebrate the holidays in a different way.


Wendy: You have really interesting guests appearing this year. Elliott Franks, for example, has such an interesting story. He was a celebrated female opera singer, a soprano, before he transitioned. He was so well known for that voice, and of course in the transition to becoming who he is today, his voice would necessarily have to change to one with more of a male register. Now he is a baritone, but there was a while there when he wasn’t singing publicly, as he grew into his new voice.


Edwin: There have been a lot of good articles; Joshua Kosman of the Chronicle wrote an interesting article about trans singers. It’s fascinating how voices can change in these transitions. It may be different but it’s very beautiful. I’ve found the trans voices that I’ve heard through the years to be extremely powerful and beautiful, the expression and the artistry behind them. So much has gone on in their life and the commitment they’ve made, and the journey they’ve gone on, passes [through] to their artistry quite often. We like to really support them and give them a place in these shows. Last year we had Breanna Sinclaire, who’s a trans woman, join us. There’s a sense of family, and being included, and we love to have that feeling in our holiday concerts as well. We want to make it kind of a family event for people who have different kinds of families, and have them be recognized, and that’s very important in how we put the show together.


Wendy: Opera singers Patricia Racette and Beth Clayton, who are partners, will be joining you. Will they perform a duet at Holiday Gaiety?

Patricia Racette ©Kate Russell

Edwin: They’re gonna do a duet; they’re kind of the couple next door who happens to be a lesbian couple, and they come by and are gonna sing some very cute duets. Patricia Racette is a very famous soprano, and Beth has got a great career too. I think that many LGBT singers like to have a place just to let loose and be with the family; it’s very appealing, and that’s why Patricia and Beth agreed to join. It’s great to have these really well established, and quite famous, and out gay singers, come and be a part of our holiday party.

Beth Clayton ©Peter Ogilvie

Wendy: Will they be singing holiday types of songs, or will they be singing opera?


Edwin: They sing opera most of the time, so I think singing holiday songs is very high on their agenda, and maybe giving it a specific spin. I don’t wanna give it away, but they have some really cool ideas about what they’re gonna do onstage.

Coco Peru ©Peter Palladinoe

Wendy: You have Coco Peru up there too this year. Everyone in San Francisco knows Coco Peru, and she’s known internationally as well, because she’s been on every screen imaginable, from TV, to movies, to the internet. What will her contribution to Holiday Gaiety be?


Edwin: Sometimes we cast [performers] “in the role,” so Peaches and I are the hosts of the party but, in the past, Bob the Drag Queen was on the show, and played the nosy neighbor, like in a Bewitched [Gladys Kravitz] kind of sense. We’ll find a specific role for Coco in our story. I think she does also plan to sing, and somebody is gonna recite The Night Before Christmas, with the orchestra, and an LGBT spin. It may very well be Coco doing that.


Wendy: Courtney Act, who has appeared on Australian Idol and Australia’s version of Dancing with the Stars, and who also has a career as a pop singer and performer, will be another of your guests.

Courtney Act ©Magnus Hastings

Edwin: Courtney has been really big in reality TV. She was in RuPaul’s Season 6 in the US, and was in the finals, and has a really amazing career doing other stuff. She was in Big Brother in the UK, and won that. It’s incredible. {She’s] obviously a very beautiful drag queen, glamorous, [and] is a wonderful singer. This is not her first time with the San Francisco Symphony; she appeared quite a few years ago in a summer concert, stole the show. We’re really happy to have Courtney back. I’m sure she’ll sing. If you track her career, she’s doing wonderful educational work about relationships, and safe sex, and all sorts of interesting things, and is just an amazing positive force in the LGBT community.


Wendy: The Fou Fou Ha performance troupe will also be appearing this year. How will they participate? Will they be weaving into the show throughout the night?


Edwin:: We’re working on them choreographing The Nutcracker in a very fun and different way.


Wendy: How would you describe Fou Fou Ha, for anyone who may not be familiar with them?


Edwin: They’re a queer clown dance troupe, and this is their debut with the symphony. We always love to have people who are well known in San Francisco be a part of it. In the past we’ve had, of course, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence; we’ve had the Gay Men’s Chorus be a part of these shows, and now we’ve reached out to Fou Fou Ha. We’re really happy to have a very specific San Francisco ensemble and identity be part of this show.


Wendy: Speaking of the Sisters, Sister Roma will be part of the show as well.


Edwin: Some of the highlights of the past shows have been the repartee between Roma and Peaches, which is not particularly friendly. Lotta shade! Of course we had to have Roma come back; she’s been a great friend to us. It’s kind of nice that in San Francisco there are so many people you could have as a part of the show. We love having the Sisters; I’m sure they’ll be back soon, but it’s an embarrassment of riches with so many great LGBT groups and performers in the city. It makes our job kinda of easy and hard, because there are so many people to choose from.


Wendy: Am I leaving anyone out?


Edwin: There are more people to be announced in the next few days. I would urge the readers to keep an eye out for who’s gonna be added to the show, ‘cause we’re really excited. We really are trying to make this a tradition, so we encourage people to buy tickets. It’s not every city that has the luxury of having an annual LGBT holiday concert, but that can only happen if people come and be a part of it. Partly you’re gonna have a great time, and partly you’re supporting something very special that the San Francisco Symphony is doing. They don’t have to do this show but they just feel so committed to the community that they really want to.


Wendy: You’ve worked with the San Francisco Symphony in a myriad of ways, including with the Youth Orchestra, before moving out of our city, What are some of the projects that you’ve done with them?


Edwin: It’s kind of, “What haven’t I done?” Most recently I conducted a concert with Metallica that opened the Chase Center. What’s really wonderful over the years is that the symphony has given me the chance to create new programming, like in SoundBox, which is their experimental venue, but also in programs like this. This show is definitely one of my babies, and I’m so proud of what we’ve done over the years.


Wendy: This show looks wonderful, and so did footage of the Metallica with the San Francisco Symphony event.


Edwin: The Bay Area is so important to Metallica. It’s their home. It was great for me to work with them. I felt, we’re all Bay Area artists - I [now] live in Chicago, but I still consider myself a Bay Area artist. It felt like family.


Holiday Gaiety happens on Saturday, December 7th at 7:30PM at Davies Symphony Hall. For ticket information, please visit https://www.sfsymphony.org/Buy-Tickets/2019-20/Holiday-Gaiety.aspx


Editorial note: New add to Holiday Gaiety! Ana Gasteyer (Actor, Comedienne, Singer) will be joining the cast of Holiday Gaiety. She has just released a new holiday album Sugar and Booze and will perform some of her selections along with a CD/Vinyl signing after the show. Celebrity drag queen and SF icon Kylie Minono will also be appearing!



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