‘Your well-being is most important. A healthy, more vital one will benefit yourself, those close to you, and our community.’
As I look back on 2022, there are many things I’m honored and so proud to have played a role in, including the completion of my reign as Empress of The Imperial Council of San Francisco, Inc. with Emperor Mr. David Glamamore. We helped shine a brighter light on the world’s oldest and largest LGBTQIA+ organizations.
Pride this year was such an incredibly magical day –– $151,000 in donations from my annual event went directly to the Q Foundation, whose goal is to ensure people have safe housing, which is now more critical than ever. The nonprofit is creating an app that will connect local LGBTQIA+ people looking for or offering safe housing, based on the ‘Juanita’s List’ Housing Group I started on Facebook in 2014.
I also spent most of 2022 planning, executing, installing, and de-installing the exhibition at the San Francisco Arts Commission Main Gallery, ‘Juanita: 30 Years of MORE!’. In curating the exhibit, I realized how many lovely things I’ve collected over the years. Some stuff is museum-display-worthy, and others must go into the GLBT Historical Society archives. But, in the end, receiving and sharing so much love with our community has been an absolute honor over these past twelve months.
We are all aware of how difficult the past few years have been — at moments filled with incredible highs but also accompanied by some very depressing lows. And the latter has, on many occasions, left us feeling utterly paralyzed.
I can’t help but connect my current grab-bag of emotion to the things we’ve all been exposed to over these past three years. First, at the end of 2019, we saw cases of unknown respiratory disease that would quickly spread and change our lives in ways we could have never imagined. Then, just a few months into 2020, the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer opened our eyes to the even wider racist dive in white America; its hateful and deadly actions against people of color continue to fester to this day.
Steadily, over the past three years, there have also been historically high levels of violence against our gender-diverse friends and families. Hate has reared its ugly head at such an extreme level in a country that has continued to devalue other people’s existence. And it all makes me sick.
Unfortunately, these things continue to happen and weigh heavily on our everyday lives. So as I sit here in the present moment and take that deep breath for relaxation, I am very aware of everything that has brought me to this moment in my life where uncertainty reigns heavy.
Yet, I desperately need help understanding the ‘united’ part of the United States.
The dream that San Francisco is a magical destination is slowly fading away in my eyes. Unfortunately, too many of our leaders are so busy trying to find success in their political careers that they don’t honestly see what’s happening to our city — right in front of them. Meanwhile, frustrated residents are becoming increasingly numb to the truths of the daily stories we see on our streets.
On many occasions, I have dropped my head in defeat as I walk my dogs down the block. I’ve passed the sight of things that no one should ever catch a glimpse of, never mind live through. Some of those things I will never be able to unsee. I try to take alternate routes when I walk Jackson and Macho, desperately focused on avoiding the broken glass, garbage, and feces that line the sidewalks of my neighborhood.
I’ve also grievously lost a lot of friends this past year, some from emotional exhaustion and others to over-indulgence in many of life’s guilty pleasures. It’s painful enough to imagine that any of those things have the power to end life. And yet, there are times when I lay on my bed staring at the ceiling and feel utterly exhausted and overwhelmed as I overindulge in things to make myself feel better. And, then, there are the friends that have faded away. They have disconnected and retreated into seclusion –– a place they may or may not want to be.
I mention all these things because their emotional toll is heavy, and their effects can appear unexpectedly in our day-to-day lives. My activist voice keeps shouting, “things must change,” while my practical side is trying to figure out exactly how to make that happen without losing my voice or mind. Of course, my motherly instincts want to ensure everyone is safe and secure. But the truth is that it is too much for me alone to handle. Someone recently commented, “your mothering skills have morphed into becoming the job of a social worker.”
As 2022 comes to an end, I don’t promise to know what the new year has in store for you and me — one thing I do know is that there needs to be a significant shift in our focus and priorities if we are going to move forward together.
The past few years have given us all a chance to reflect on where we are, whether in a job, relationship, location, or personal direction. Some of us have thrived and set goals that promise a healthier lifestyle. Or, you may have made some mistakes or are on a path you would not usually choose. Look at those things as part of the journey to care for yourself. I’ve spoken to many people who are ready for change. It’s a big step to take, so surround yourself with those that want to see your success.
Your priority for 2023 should be you. Your well-being is most important. A healthy, more vital one will benefit yourself, those close to you, and our community. So surround yourself with love — loads of it and let’s conquer the world together.
My website has an extensive list of mental health resources for our community to utilize that was shared with me by Queer LifeSpace.
Juanita MORE! is a denizen of the limelight. For almost three decades, the laudable hostess has blitzed San Francisco with high glamour, drag irreverence, and danceable beats that have illuminated the entire city. MORE! continues to be a heaping dollop of generosity and a sprinkle of nerve. She inspires those around her to make positive differences in their lives and communities — and doing it all with timeless elegance and an innovative spirit. Most recently, after her reign, Miss MORE! holds the title of Absolute Empress 56 of the Imperial Council of San Francisco –– one of the oldest non-profit organizations globally.
To date, MORE! has helped raise over 1 million dollars for local charities — among them GBLT Historical Society & Archives, Our Trans Youth, Q Foundation, Queer Lifespace, Transgender Law Center, and more. In addition, MORE! tirelessly fundraises for organizations in San Francisco that are adamant about helping communities in the seven-by-seven thrive, all while shining light and offering support to those who’ve been overlooked for far too long.
MORE! embodies what it means to be a conduit of connection. MORE!’ brings the people together to fundraise, celebrate community, and demand social change around San Francisco and elsewhere. Her culinary expressions are an extension of what mothers have been doing in their kitchens for generations — which, simply states, is sharing “loads of love.”