‘I was a little brown gay boy trying to find my way’

Photo: Getty Images/imagewerks

When I was four years old, my dad was driving the family car — a 1956 Bel Air Chevy on our way back from a friend’s farm, where we had just finished riding horses. I was in the backseat with my sister, just barely big enough to look out the window.

We pulled up to a red stoplight and waited as pedestrians passed, then a prepossessing man stepped off the curb onto the street; I could feel my heart start to race. I looked over at my sister and wanted to ask her if she saw him but quickly turned…


There will be no June gloom in San Francisco

“Get Vaxed” Artwork Simón Malvaez & J. Manuel Carmona / Image - Darwin Bell

I did it. Today, I walked Jackson around the block with my mask off. Yes, it felt weird. But, it also gave me an overwhelming sense of relief. Like many so many in our community, I have officially been fully vaccinated. It’s upsetting to hear that not everyone in this country is willing to participate and get vaccinated. For me, a very simple trip around the block was, in truth, the culmination of a tremendous journey that we’ve all been on together this past year or so. My own journey took…


Today, May 7, marks the 25th anniversary of her sudden passing

I took this photo of my mom in our backyard with my first camera when I was five years old. (Photo: Courtesy of Juanita MORE!)

My mother was loving, protective, funny, and never not the life of the party.

Mom was born to a family of immigrants from Chihuahua, Mexico, during the Depression of the 1930s in Niles, California. The little town of Niles had hit its peak as “Hollywood of the Silent Film Era.” Around this time, many Mexican Americans were facing threats of deportation and struggling to find work amidst the era’s job crisis and food shortages.

(Now, I’m not sure how my grandparents arrived in California, but I heard rumors that my great-grandfather worked as a railroad conductor for a company that…


I’m honored to be your new Empress of San Francisco

San Francisco Imperial Coronation, 2021 / Photo by GOOCH

Picture this: The year is 1980 and the Mr. & Miss. Gay San Francisco Pageant is taking place at California Club — a formal event space that was a then-touchstone in a queer neighborhood — on Clay Street between Polk and Van Ness. Miss Gay San Francisco, Shelly Rio, takes the podium to say a few words as she comes to the end of her one-year reign. As speeches go, this one wasn’t going to be a glowing account of her past year nor a humble farewell speech. Rumor has…


She will build on the tremendous impact she has already made for decades

Roberto Ordeñana, Deputy Executive Director of the LGBT Center, and Juanita MORE!

I can’t remember precisely when Roberto Ordeñana, Deputy Executive Director of the LGBT Center, and I met — but we were probably laughing. There was a connection and sense of family from the very start.

It is an incredible honor to receive an endorsement from the San Francisco LGBT Community Center. An institution that has helped connect our diverse community to different opportunities and resources. It has achieved its vision of a more robust, healthier, and more equitable world for LGBTQ+ people and our allies.

Ordeñana said…


I flopped the screen test for the role of José Sarria in the ABC mini-series When We Rise

José Sarria Image Courtesy of GLBT Historical Society / JM Image — Mr. Joe Montana

I just love the thinking about Jose Sarria being crowned queen at the Beaux Arts Ball in 1964 and stating that he was “already a queen.” He then proclaimed himself “Her Royal Majesty, Empress of San Francisco, José I, The Widow Norton,” thus giving birth to the Imperial Court system. Jose was ballsy — especially for his time.

When Dustin Lance Black was working on the miniseries When We Rise in 2015, for ABC inspired by Cleve Jones’ book of the same…


Mark Leno’s endorsement of my run for Empress of the Imperial Council of San Francisco

I’m the type of person who wonders why their paths cross with someone else — especially when it’s someone you admire, look up to, and respect. In this case, it’s my friend Mark Leno.

Even before Leno served in the California State Senate until November 2016, I’ve long supported his work and mission. Leno at the time represented the 11th Senate district, which includes San Francisco and San Mateo County. (Before being elected to the State Senate in 2008, Leno served in the California State…


I want the Imperial Council’s visibility to a new LGBTQ generation

Jose Sarria, SF Pride 2005 / Image — Dan Nicoletta

Did you know that there’s a study on running in high heels? However, the running I’m doing at the moment isn’t on a race track or hosted by a TV drag personality. But, I’m running as a candidate for the role of Empress of the Imperial Council of San Francisco — the Founding Mother Court of the International Court System, a non-profit and the oldest LGBT charity organization globally.

The organization hosts various entertainment, educational events, and activities to raise funds; these ventures support the causes of other diverse…


It’s time we had the hard conversations with loved ones and strangers.

Image / Darwin Bell — Castro to Chinatown: An LGBTQ+ Solidarity March for Asian Lives

Since the beginning of the pandemic, harassment and violence against Asian Americans has continued to grow. Across America, there has been an enormous surge of racism and attacks in our Asian communities.

A year ago, I wrote an essay on Medium — because I was fed up with the killing and treatment–the racism, police brutality, and scapegoating of Black Americans. The murders of trans people of color and our countries continued hatred of Latinx immigrants are exhausting me. …


I’ve deactivated FaceTime for a reason

I can almost see the tiniest hint of a rainbow starting to form up in the sky right now; it brings me some hope.

I’m doing great. Mostly — sometimes, that is not a lie. The endless amount of hours we have spent alone, topped by underlying depression, has been genuinely exhausting. And, on top of that, I often find myself not wanting to talk to anyone.

Actual conversations have been far and few throughout isolation. I’ve missed the good ol’ days when I had to yell at someone at the bar to stop…

Juanita MORE!

High glamour, drag irreverence, danceable beats, culinary delectables, political activism and a philanthropic heart.

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