On April 8 the board and members of the Community Center Project of San Francisco (affectionately known as the QCC or Queer Community Center) held a fundraising wine and cheese reception in their office located just across the street from the 1800 Market Street site where the 40,000-square-foot facility will be created.
Then on April 18 (the date of the Great Quake) the Friends of 1800 Market and the Community Center Project threw another fund-raiser, "An Afternoon Reception in Remembrance of the 1906 Earthquake and Fire," at the Westerfield Mansion on Fulton and Scott.
To accomplish the feat of creating a Queer Community Center, the existing three-story Queen Anne Victorian building which was constructed in 1894 will be renovated and a four-story adjoining structure will be erected. The total cost of land, plan development, and construction is $10.7 million. Donations and pledges have already raised more than $8 million, including the $6 million from the city and county. Ground breaking will be in September this year and the Center is scheduled to open its doors January in the year 2001. The Center will contain community meeting rooms, event space, nonprofit offices, a reading room, Internet lounge, youth and senior spaces, a child watch area, cafe, and cultural displays,
According to the mission statement, "The Community Center Protect is planning building, and will operate a dynamic, community-oriented facility that fosters positive health, identity and sense of purpose for all lesbian gay, bisexual, and transgender youth and adults. It will be a sale, supportive, and accessible space to connect people with the many agencies, groups, and activities that address their social, recreational, political, and spiritual needs. Additionally, the Center will serve as a destination for tourists, visitors, and newcomers to San Francisco who want to connect with the community."
Several of the nuns from The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Inc. opened the April 8 ceremony with an official blessing of the office space, its equipment and most importantly its people, including of course, the generous donors. The Sisters made a special consecration of the architectural blueprint and the scale model, which was all surrounded by a rainbow of glasses holding votive candles. The Sisters sprinkled holy water (direct from their new Holy Water drinking water bottles, every cent of which profits go directly to charity) and holy glitter, as well as all manner of benedictions.
Brenda Barnette, President of the Board of the Community Center Project, said she wanted to tell Bay Times readers how amazingly this project has come about, "I recall eight years ago when I was painting on a set at Theatre Rhino and I remarked how I wondered why we didn't have a community center here, and then it started to happen about three years ago. Now we're at the point where we only have $2.7 million to go." She said that personally she was so delighted to see the city come in and support the project and thereby say to the world that it welcomes the gifts, talents, and presence of the LGBT community in San Francisco, "This gives my straight children an opportunity to really be okay about who their mother is," she said
"I am so excited lately that either I get teary-eyed all the time or I just can't stand still," said Jody Cole. "I am very optimistic and getting all revved up for our event starting in June," she said Cole joined the Board two years ago, when Mark Leno asked her to be his cochair for the Capital Campaign. "I think that although there is a lot of enthusiasm for the project out there in the community, there are still some that don't know, for instance, that the Fallon Building is going to remain and will not be torn down" She said "People's ideas about the need for a Center have been changing. The more they understand what we're building and what we're going to put in the Center, they realize how much we really do need this."
The quake-and-fire reception took place at the historic Westerfield House, officially designated as San Francisco Landmark #135. Designed for William Westerfield in 1882, this building is often used as a symbol of the splendor of Victorian San Francisco, featuring a dreamlike tower, huge bay windows, and a gorgeous hilltop view facing Alamo Square park. From the 1920's until World War II, the home was used by wealthy white czarists who had fled Russia during the 1917 revolution. During the Summer of Love around 30 Haight-Ashbury hippies took over, and one of the infamous residents was Charles Manson.
But let's get back to today. The four-story edifice has been remodeled and redecorated and was just the perfect place for a bunch of queens and A-gays to gather.
Speaking about the Fallon Building, Supervisor Mark Leno told the Bay Times, "We are moving forward and it's looking very positive; we have a bigger nut to crack than we thought originally, but with the efforts of friends like these, I am certain we will have the kind of coordinated effort that we'll need for a successful outcome."
Bigwigs (literally!) from the Imperial Court assembled to grace the place. Empress XXX Donna Sachet in her spiffy red-and-gold Nancy Reaganesque suit said, "This project means so much to the Imperials. We're thrilled that this project has the approval of so many diverse groups." "It's very lovely to be in this faaaaabulous house," said newly crowned Empress Sheba. "We support the Community Center Project all the way. I've been all around the United States, and there are some wonderful gay and lesbian community centers in very, very small towns; there is no reason why we shouldn't have one here." Emperor TJ jestingly confessed, "I'm depressed because I don't live in this mansion." He added, "I think the community center is an important project and I'm anxious to learn more about it during my reign. And if The Sisters are here, it must be a happening event." The Imperials were grandly ushered out onto the doorstep to meet and greet Da Mayor.
Friends board member Denise LaPointe said, "As a Catholic, we believe in redemption, and The Sisters gave me permission to say so. So it was not without the very able assistance of the Mayor's Office that we were able to move forward and have the preservationist issue resolved as we brought together two communities to accomplish what is going to be a spectacular project for San Francisco."
Da Mayor then plugged the silent auction, modeling his gold autographed necktie which he wore for his inauguration. He concluded by saying," We really ought to get to the point where annually in our contribution budget we include a stipend for the center, and the auction is certainly a way to help out."
The silent auction also featured such coveted items as box tickets at the SF Giants' final game at Candlestick, two V.I.P. tickets for ReUnion (a Saturday night before Pride Day dance journey in the Rotunda of the newly remodeled City Hall), and all kinds of framed photos, lithographs, and paintings. Especially for the dykes, there was an erotic "House o' Chicks" video set with "The Magic of Ejaculation" and "Masturbation Memoirs" as well as a vulva puppet (don't ask!).
The Community Center Project needs the community (well, who else?!) to help make this all a reality. They urge Bay Times readers to become founders, members, or volunteers. Founders make a gift or pledge of $1,000 or more, to be paid over a three-year period or less (as little as $28 a month). They will be permanently acknowledged in the Center.
Members support the Project's and future Center's operations. Volunteers assist with fund raising, community outreach, events, office support, planning and many other tasks to help make this effort a success. Contact the Community Center Project at 1748 market Street, Suite 204, or phone (415) 437-2257 or browse www.sfgaycenter.org.