Western Front

The modern gay liberation movement is most often associated with New York, leaving out what happened in the rest of the country.

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When We Rise, a seven-part docudrama, focuses on San Francisco movement history.

Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black wrote the script for this ABC series. While the personal story of Harvey Milk was overshadowed by other elements in Milk, the newer work is anchored by the well-developed personal accounts.

Having lived through and survived the last four decades here, I was emotionally overwhelmed by the bigger-than-life presentation of our shared history. It didn’t quite reflect either my own experience or my knowledge of the time, but the series definitely captured the essence of what occurred during this tumultuous period.

Lance gathered material from each of the main characters and created a gripping, coherent narrative relevant to anyone open to knowing what happened in San Francisco.

Contact ABC for more information.

copyright © 2017 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

http://www.nikosdiaman.com

Lucky Alive

The Untold Tales Of Armistead Maupin directed by Jennifer Kroot and Bill Weber (USA) 2017 is the opening night film of Frameline 41.

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Armistead Maupin and his Tales Of The City books are local pop icons in San Francisco. Nearly as familiar as the Golden Gate to residents of Castro Street and beyond. This ninety-minute documentary will likely be a crowd-pleaser during its screening at the Castro Theatre 15 June 2017.

While the movie fleshes out some details of Maupin’s life and provides numerous images of him at various stages of his life, there are few revelations.

The theme of this year’s San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival (15 – 25 June 2017) is Genre Queer. Venues include the Castro Theatre, Roxie Theater, and Victoria Theatre in San Francisco, Rialto Cinemas, Elmwood in Berkeley, and Landmark Theatres Piedmont in Oakland.

More information and tickets available at www.frameline.org

copyright © 2017 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

www.nikosdiaman.com

Gay Phoenix

When We Rise: My Life In The Movement by Cleve Jones is due late November from Hachette Books.

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The title suggests the mythical bird reborn from the ashes and the forthcoming memoir definitely reflects that.

Its author, Cleve Jones, first came to San Francisco from Arizona in 1972, the year I returned to the city from the East Coast. We met in the early 70s and I remember attending a party he and his roommate, Eric Garbor, hosted when we lived half a block from one another on Castro Street.

He’s long been a highly visible member of the community and a prominent activist for over four decades.

The book traces the trajectory of his life beginning with a low point. His experiences at school were so hellish that he was considering suicide during his early teens. He overcame despair after he began working for social change and discovered he was not alone in the world.

Cleve was especially active during the bleakest period of the AIDS-HIV pandemic. He was the founder of the Names Project that created a public memorial for thousands of individuals who died of the disease. The ever-growing quilt was displayed widely both in the US and beyond, helping to mobilize government agencies to fund studies and speed up treatment options.

The movement for social justice not only gave meaning to his life but also provided him with employment over the years. He worked in politics and is presently engaged in labor advocacy.

He was mentored by Harvey Milk and encouraged the development and eventual production of Milk, the narrative film about Harvey directed by Gus Van Sant in 2008.

Earlier this year Dustin Lance Black, the screenwriter of Milk, teamed up again with Van Sant to produce an ABC miniseries partly inspired by the manuscript of When We Rise.

The memoir allowed me to fill in some of the details of Cleve’s life story and will undoubtedly inspire present and future generations of women and men to positive action.

copyright © 2016 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved.

http://www.nikosdiaman.com

Urban Playground

Thousands of gay men came to San Francisco during the Seventies in search of sexual freedom.

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It was a place where they could live out unfulfilled adolescent fantasies with many opportunities for overindulgence. There were over a hundred gay bars in the city as well as other venues where we met one another. It was a wonderful time to be here but there were also unpleasant aspects to this apparent paradise.

Sex, Drugs & Disco by Mark Abramson, (2015) Wilde City Press and More Sex, Drugs & Disco by Mark Abramson (2016) Wilde City Press are the author’s San Francisco diaries from the pre-AIDS era.

His plans for graduate school in Boston to study with poet Anne Sexton were derailed by her suicide the previous fall. So the author headed west after college in Minneapolis to join his friend John Preston who was then the editor of The Advocate.

Abramson was young, attractive, self-confident and horny, finding it relatively easy to indulge in the physical pleasure he constantly craved. Even though the period covered in these two books occurred forty years ago, what went on then is probably not that different from what goes on in the present with the help of numerous apps.

The first of the two books covers the last half of the Seventies while the sequel goes from 1980 to the spring of 1981 just before his move to the Russian River. The diaries include his social life, friendships, work experience, and writing. He periodically longs for more intimacy while continuing to pursue easy sex without commitment. A relatively good life for a Minnesota farm boy in the city.

His style is clear, direct, and honest. These two books provide a picture of what it was like for at least some of the men who lived through that special time and I look forward to reading his AIDS memoir as well.

copyright © 2016 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved.

www.nikosdiaman.com

 

Mincing Words

No, it’s not a cooking show!

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Tom Ammiano’s new one-man show is an entertaining romp through his two terms as a member of the California Assembly. Whether he’s sitting in his office, standing on stage, or running for office, the jokes keep coming. He knows how to get a laugh.

His sense of humor has undoubtedly served him well in all of his careers: teacher, comic, and politician. During his tenure in public office he’s championed health care, affordable housing, LGBT issues, as well as labor, immigration, and prison reform.

Mincing Words runs 8 September to 15 October 2016 at the Marsh, 1062 Valencia Street (off 22nd), San Francisco.

Along with his remarks about well-known politicians in various levels of government, he also introduces several characters that embody undesirable traits making them perfect foils for humor.

San Francisco values, of course, from a Jersey guy now deeply rooted in the West.

Shows run Thursday nights and Saturday afternoons. Contact the Marsh for more info and tickets.

copyright © 2016 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved.

www.nikosdiaman.com

Museum Cornerstone

The Mexican Museum was founded 1975 in San Francisco by Peter Rodriguez, a gay, California-born, Mexican-American painter.

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It’s taken over four decades to raise funds and break ground for a permanent location. A lot of work and determination went into accomplishing this.

I attended the morning dedication ceremony near the site of the four-story building that will house a large collection of Mexican, Mexican-American, Chicano, and Latino art.

The museum initially began in a rented storefront on Folsom Street before moving to its present temporary exhibition space in Fort Mason.

I first heard of Rodriguez and his vision from a neighbor who knew him. Both men were born in Stockton and worked during their lives in visual display. I visited the current museum on a number of occasions. It’s within walking distance of my home.

But I’ve never met the museum founder, who died less than three weeks before the dedication at the age of 90.

The Mexican Museum will stand downtown near several other important art institutions such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Yerba Buena Center For The Arts, Museum of the African Diaspora, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, and perhaps a new GLBT History Museum now taking the first steps in making that a reality.

Executive Director Terry Beswick of the GLBT Historical Society announced the project in a recent Bay Area Reporter editorial. And the most recent society newsletter included a sketch by Alan Martinez, a local architect and former roommate of mine.

Money must be raised in small and large amounts, a location found, and a design presented and approved before anything materializes. Hopefully I’ll be alive to see it!

More information available at Mexican Museum and GLBT History Society.

image & text copyright © 2016 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

www.nikosdiaman.com

San Francisco Treat

Pushing Dead directed by Tom E. Brown (USA) 2015 was showcased at recently concluded Frameline 40 and one of my favorite films at the festival.

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Dan is the bouncer of a neighborhood bar who’s HIV positive and unable to get his meds refilled, while his co-worker Bob is thrown out by his wife and in need of a place to stay.

The two men hang out together and help each other through an unexpected rough period in their lives. This gentle comedy is infused with love and compassion.

Dan’s roommate Paula and Bob’s wife Dot are important characters in the story but their roles are secondary. And the San Francisco setting is understated as well.

James Roday, local celeb Danny Glover, Robin Weigert, and Khandi Alexander work well together in the ensemble cast.

Look out for this cinematic gem!

copyright © 2016 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved.

www.nikosdiaman.com

Party Time

I marched in New York in 1970 to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. My friend Elliot and his partner David hosted a brunch in their apartment in the Village beforehand and a small group of us got stoned before joining that initial march. Yet despite the good feelings I was somewhat apprehensive because the previous night four members of the Gay Liberation Front were attacked on the street.

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Five thousand marchers participated that first year and we thought that with sufficient publicity we might be able to double the size the following year. Seven years later there were a quarter of a million in the San Francisco Pride Parade. I was astounded by the rapid growth of the movement over such a short period of time.

I knew people on both coasts and felt connected during those early years. I celebrated with friends, lovers, neighbors. People came and went. Political battles were won and lost. The most heartbreaking and frightening time was during the peak of the AIDS-HIV pandemic. Hundreds suffered and perished, especially in major cities such as New York, San Francisco, and Paris. Among them were men much younger than me I thought I would grow old with.

As the years passed I found myself surrounded by strangers as increasing numbers of young people came to San Francisco to celebrate their new sense of sexual freedom with rainbows and balloons. And for at least a couple of years I stayed home rather than face the crowds and noise filling the city the final Sunday in June.

I returned only when I was sure I’d be with friends again. Ignoring the main event to attend somewhat smaller gatherings such as the party in City Hall, the annual celebration in Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s office, Freedom Faerie Village where I was sure to see a lot of people I knew, or one of the after-parties in other parts of the city.

San Francisco Pride is now the biggest party of the year drawing thousands of people of all ages, races, and sexual persuasions. On my way home I boarded the Metro with four, young, straight couples. Each clearly signaled the nature of their relationship.

How’s it going? the man closest to me said to indicate his goodwill. Perhaps, self-conscious of his blatant heterosexual behavior. Like your belt! he then remarked after noticing the rainbow pattern. A gesture of peace and solidarity. An acknowledgement that he was an appreciative guest at our huge celebration.

image & text copyright © 2016 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

www.nikosdiaman.com

Frameline 40

Frameline (San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival), the oldest queer film festival in the world, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. It runs for ten days from 16 to 26 June 2016 at the Castro Theatre, Roxie Theater, and Victoria Theatre in San Francisco plus Rialto Cinemas Elmwood in Berkeley and Landmark Theatres Piedmont in Oakland.

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Some of the outstanding narrative films screening this year are: Akron directed by Sasha King and Brian O’Donnell (USA) 2015, Holding The Man directed by Neal Armfield (Australia) 2015, A Holy Mess directed by Helena Bergstrom (Sweden) 2015, Pushing Dead directed by Tom E. Brown (USA) 2015, and The Intervention directed by Clea Duvall (USA) 2016.

For more information and tickets contact Frameline.

copyright © 2016 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved.

www.nikosdiaman.com