As I approach my one year living in San Francisco, I am quickly learning that June is a month full of celebrations and non-stop events all primarily focused on LGBT Pride. The amount of requests I have received to cover and attend these events has become a bit overwhelming, but after learning more about each of them, I found one party that I sure wasn't going to miss.
Mark Rhoades, who is extremely well-known within the community, has been going out of his way for the past four years by throwing what he refers to as a "thank you" party for the 500 most influential politicians, activists, top executives, socialites and others within the San Francisco LGBT community. Lucky for me, and the rest of us who have not yet made that exclusive list, the party is open to the public as well.
This being the fifth year, Mark is "thanking" the movers and shakers of the community; he is going all out and spending more sponsor money than ever. For the fifth year in a row, PG&E has signed on as the presenting sponsor. "Mark is a respected and dedicated leader in the LGBT community and has been a wonderful partner these past five years," said Brandon Hernandez, director of public affairs, when I asked him why he partnered up with Mark. PG&E was one of the first companies to publicly oppose Proposition 8 in California and has worked to advance marriage equality and other key issues by supporting LGBT organizations locally and nationally. Hernandez also went on to say, "We are proud to see that in just five years, this celebration has become one of the premier Pride events, bringing together a diverse group of business and community leaders."
Joining in on sponsorship is Banana Republic and AT&T. Food will be provided by Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants.
After speaking with Mark about his party, I quickly learned how much they were spending on this party, and compared to the under 10k amount of year one, this year has significantly gone up. Mark told me that this year it's all about, "more food, more alcohol, staff, décor, lighting and entertainment."
Speaking of entertainment, Mark decided to bill not one, but two of the most popular comedians from E! Television's Chelsea Lately. He told me that he couldn't decide which comic to invite -- between Heather McDonald and Loni Love -- so he just went with both!
I had the pleasure of speaking with both Heather and Loni about the party and they are both thrilled to be coming to San Francisco to entertain their "gay fans." I was even fortunate enough to be invited to one of Heather's shows while she was in town. It will be interesting to see if she changes her routine a bit to gear it more towards the audience at the party.
The party is being held on a Thursday, June 21st, which happens to be right before Pride weekend. Mark wanted to make sure to do it early because apparently, SF Pride is rarely attended by actual SF residents. It's more of a spectator event for "bridge and tunnel" and all the rest who only come out of the "closet, woods, from out under their beds" once a year. Having the party a day before the big Pride festivities guarantees that the who's who of the San Francisco LGBT community will be in attendance.
All the proceeds from the ticket sales will benefit the Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute. The institute holds trainings and professional development programs for LGBTs who want to run for public office. Tickets to the public are on sale and are priced at a modest $50 in advance or $75 at the door. Mark wanted to keep the party affordable for guests while providing an over-the-top venue and event. To register, visit http://www.glli.org/about_us/events/id:133. The party takes place from 7 to 11 p.m. at the iconic Bently Reserve, 301 Battery Street.