Strut community events: Queer art, Black Love, Trans Voices & so much more

The San Francisco AIDS Foundation location Strut is more than a health center. We are a community space, a space for leaning and a space for fun. We celebrate the Queer community with events that range from art openings, to panel discussions, to book clubs and performance series. Giving our community a space to engage socially engages the community in health care too—by showcasing all of the health services available here at Strut. 

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Baruch Porras-Hernandez: A lot of people think that Strut is just a health center, but we are much more than that. We are a community space, a space for learning, a space for fun, and a space that celebrates and supports and a lot of time inspires the queer community to live their best life.

People can come here and look at art. People can come here and join a book club. They can come here and sometimes we do self-defense classes. Sometimes we just have spaces for folks to sit and relax and draw. We do something called “Shut up and draw,” where you can come here and just calmly color in a coloring book or draw. We have panel discussions. We just did a financial workshop for the queer community.

Jared Hemming: We have specific things themed for different communities. For instance, we have a Black Love series. The Black Love series is all black performers in the community. They come in and perform. It’s an opportunity to highlight and showcase some different communities that are out there we can actually support in the space.

We also have Trans Voices is another event that focuses on the trans community. So a wide-range of trans performers that come in and do work with us. And then we have Donde Esta Mi Gente? for Latino communities and Latinx communities. 

Kay Nilsson: Trans Voices was one event that was co-founded by myself, a writer named Julian Shendelman, and Baruch Porras-Hernandez who is a community organizer at Strut. It started about two years ago. The whole point was to create a space in this neighborhood, in the Castro, for trans artists to be able to perform.

Normally when you see a bill that has a trans person on it, there’s one trans person on the bill. So to have something like an all trans show really gives an opportunity for folks to see the depth and breadth of the talent in the trans community. And being able to see multiple trans people on stage at one time is incredible.

Baruch: We’ve had artists who have come here and said, “I’ve never been in a lineup with all Black queer people as a writer or performer.” I’ve had folks say, “I’ve never been in a room with this many people like me or this many queer people like me.”

Jared: Because we offer so much different programming, we also want to look at the more fun social aspects of someone’s life. And these community events actually give us that opportunity to focus in on some of that fun stuff, that more social stuff that gets people interacting and builds social networks for folks.

Baruch: One of our most popular events is the art program that we have. It’s actually been part of Magnet since it started.

Jared: Every month we switch out the artist on the second floor. The first Friday of the month we do a big art opening to celebrate the artist, their work, and showcase it to the community. Always really fun. We serve free wine and food. And it’s an opportunity for people to stop in the space and see the art and see what this space is all about.

Kay: If people engage here socially, they also are engaged in terms of their health care. Because they learn about all the services and programs we provide during the social programming that we do. It’s fun. You should be able to come here and have fun. Be able to come here and not have to spend money. Just come here and enjoy yourself.


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