By Cicero A. Estrella
The celebration of LGBT History Month continues on Oct. 23 with the virtual cinema release of Frameline Distribution’s 50 Years of Fabulous, the documentary recounting the rich history of San Francisco’s Imperial Council, the oldest LGBTQ+ charity organization in the world.
Filmmaker Jethro Patalinghug traces the Imperial Council’s start as a provider of a critical public space and capacity building for the community 50 years ago, to its evolution as a vital advocate for LGBTQ+ human rights. The director also delves into its struggle in finding relevance today.
“The Imperial Council’s legacy is an important artifact of our history and a key ingredient in the evolution of our community as we move forward and continue to fight for our rights and make the future even better for the next generation,” Patalinghug said. “Taking care of the community through fundraising and philanthropy is a very unique San Francisco and Imperial Council trait that continues to get passed on from generation to generation. I hope this spirit and passion never dies.”
San Francisco’s famed Roxy Theater, the GLBT Historical Society and Frameline Distribution, the only nonprofit distributor of LGBTQ+ films, are co-presenting the event at 7 p.m. on Oct. 23. Tickets are $10 ($7 for Roxy members), and the film can be accessed by viewers anywhere in North America.
The film combines historical footage and photographs with contemporary interviews and performances to convey the Imperial Council’s impact on the gay culture in San Francisco and beyond.
Executive Producer David Lassman said he wanted the film to pay tribute to Imperial Council founder Jose Sarria, an activist, drag queen and performer who was the first openly gay man to run for political office in the United States in 1961.
“In making this film, I wanted to pay homage to a man with an idea who helped alter the way the LGBTQ+ community was perceived by teaching a new generation about Jose Sarria,” he said.
The price of a ticket includes special pre-show drag performances featuring members of the Imperial Court and Imperial Council, and a post-screening panel discussion with the filmmakers and members of the Imperial Court.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit roxie.com/50-years-of-fabulous.
Photos courtesy of Frameline