‘Gaylapalooza’ Celebrates Local LGBTQ + Community Center – The Mercury News

The Silicon Valley / San Francisco LGBTQ Employee Resource Group Alliance ‘Gaylapaloza’ fundraiser returns live and in person, taking place on Sunday January 9 at the Hammer Theater in downtown San Jose.

The event began over a decade ago as an effort of last resort to raise funds for a struggling community center. In 2008, the local LGBTQ + community learned that the Billy DeFrank LGBTQ + Community Center in the Rose Garden neighborhood of San Jose was closing due to financial problems.

“It was the only facility south of San Francisco that served this community in Santa Clara County,” said Cindy Weintraub, resident of Los Gatos, event chair for Gaylapalooza 2022 and chair of the alliance. “Personally, it helped me when I was about 30 years old. I dated a women’s group who really helped me when I was in desperate need of a social group because I was in the closet.

The Billy DeFrank Center has been a staple in San Jose since 1981. It was founded in response to the community’s failure to vote for housing and job protection for LGBTQ + residents. The Alameda nonprofit center offers resources including free HIV testing services and regular community events.

Weintraub and the newly formed alliance – which now represents employees of some of the region’s largest employers, including Adobe, Salesforce, and Pacific Gas & Electric – decided to host a film screening to raise funds for the center.

This event raised $ 7,000, enough to stop the imminent closure of the center. The event turned annual and focused on film screenings for its first nine years, but in its 10th year the organizers branched out with a live drag performance of “Hamilton” and they were amazed. by the response of the crowd.

According to Weintraub, the 450-seat Hammer Theater sold out in two weeks. The event raised $ 65,000, well above the level of revenue he had seen before. “It was a light bulb moment that we should be doing live theater instead of movies because you can make a lot more money doing live theater and you can have it in a much bigger venue.” , Weintraub said.

In 2020, the event’s organizers adapted to the pandemic by moving it to an outdoor drive-in. In total, the group raised over $ 210,000 for the Billy DeFrank LGBTQ + Center.

This year’s event will be musical, with performances by prominent Bay Area bands. The San Francisco Gay & Lesbian Freedom Band will kick off the show, followed by singers from the San Jose Opera House and a drag ballet with music from the Symphony San Jose Quartet. The show will also include a performance by the Rainbow Women’s Chorus, among other musical guests.

“There will be a pretty good mix of sophistication and camp,” Weintraub said.

The Hammer Theater adheres to strict COVID-19 health protocols for this event. Customers will be required to show proof of vaccination and wear masks during the event, scheduled from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Tickets are $ 45 to $ 150 at hammertheatre.com.

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