Tomorrow, 57 San Francisco-based LGBTQ+ nonprofits will be joined by Sister Roma and Sister Hera Sees Candy of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band, Momma’s Boyz, the Sundance Saloon, CHEER San Francisco, and others for the first ever OurTownSF Live! event—an afternoon of community, connections, and entertainment, plus face-painting and nearly 30 door prizes.
In the not so distant past—the year 2009, to be exact—the Castro Merchants negotiated with Walgreens to offer free window advertising space to local nonprofits. California Check Cashing jumped onboard in 2013 and added its large window space that faces both Market and 16th streets.
In late 2013, Paul Margolis, a longtime Castro neighbor and an active member of the community, launched OurTownSF.org, a website that promotes the same local Bay Area LGBTQ+ nonprofits that were previously advertised in local storefronts. By providing an online platform, Margolis was able to offer these organizations the chance to advertise without having the constraints of window space and time allotments.
Now, Margolis is offering these same organizations a much larger platform—a live event.
Even though he helps to promote 308 San Francisco-based LGBTQ+ nonprofits, Margolis wasn’t able to include all of them in tomorrow’s event.
“I was aiming for 50 organizations,” said Margolis, “because that’s how many tables we have and how much space we have. I ended up getting 57 because groups are so excited that they’re actually bringing their own tables.”
The Eureka Valley Recreation Center is donating the space for tomorrow’s event, which will run from 1:30-4:30pm. In addition to the 57 organizations that will be tabling, there will also be a line-up of over 150 fliers from different nonprofits featured by OurTownSF.
According to Margolis, the participating organizations will get a chance to connect with people who may be interested in volunteering, becoming clients, donating to, or learning about their causes.
“There are all kinds of fun LGBTQ+ things going on in our city,” said Margolis, speaking to the online OurTownSF calendar that he helps to curate, “and there are nonprofits that you’ve never heard of.”
That’s one of the goals of tomorrow’s event: providing a way for lesser-known local nonprofits to get their names and missions out to the community and connect with people face-to-face.
Take San Francisco’s SQREAM Scooter Club. The queer and queer-friendly group of scooterists goes on monthly rides, participates in community fundraising, and socializes with other scooter enthusiasts around the city.
“SQREAM wanted to participate in this event to get our name out in the community, find new members, and to interact with others in our community,” said the group’s president Peter Quain.
"It’s great to learn about other organizations, and sometimes we can even join forces on a project. After all, together we are powerful."
Howard Edelstein, president of the Recycled AIDS Medicine Program, agrees with Quain about the importance of local nonprofits connecting. “Our main goal is to make sure that all HIV-related agencies in San Francisco know about our existence,” said Edelstein.
Margolis admitted that he got the idea for OurTownSF Live! from the AtmosQueer Community Connection Fair, which happens in the spring at the San Francisco LGBT Center and Strut. According to Margolis, he wanted to do both something bigger than AtmosQueer, and something that included a wider array of nonprofits.
But according to Margolis, there’s no competition between the two events—AtmosQueer will actually be at tomorrow’s event to talk about its event.
“I think it’s important that we have two chances a year to go out and do this,” Margolis said. “We have a lot of people with money in the community, and I’d like people to become more involved in local giving.”
Although no money will be collected at the event, Margolis is hoping that people sign up to give donations.
“We need to create a habit of donating throughout our lives,” said Margolis, “especially young people. We need to make donating and giving back to our community a lifelong mission.”
Speakers at tomorrow’s event will include a Danielle Castro of the Trans Activists for Justice and Accountability Coalition and T.J. Lee-Miyaki of Positive Force/ Strut. For a full list of tomorrow’s participating organizations, visit OurTownSF Live!’s Facebook page.
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