Thursday, February 16, 2017

In the News: BAR

Concert planned for Ghost Ship victims

Reverend Megan Rohrer
Photo: Courtesy Facebook

For survivors and loved ones, the emotional wounds inflicted by the December 2 fire at the Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland still run deep, according to the Reverend Megan Rohrer, a trans person who leads Grace Lutheran Church in San Francisco's Sunset neighborhood.

The fire broke out at 11:20 p.m. on a Friday night as people were enjoying an evening of music and dancing. At least three of the 36 people who died identified as trans, including Cash Askew, a popular musician and DJ.

Next Thursday, February 23, Rohrer, other faith leaders, healers, as well as artists and musicians will participate in "Elegy for Ghost Ship: An Evening of Music in Remembrance" at Grace Cathedral atop San Francisco's Nob Hill.

Rohrer organized the evening with Gabriel Connor, 22, who attends Grace Lutheran. Connor, who preferred not to say how he identifies, said he was a close friend of Askew's.

Connor approached Rohrer with the idea for the elegy and the two worked together on organizing the event.

"When a tragedy happens in our community we need a lot of opportunities to mourn," Rohrer told the Bay Area Reporter. "When the original tragedy happens the first thing we do is mourn the victims and care for the survivors. Then we attend to the people who may have had similar tragedies in their lives and who might be affected by seeing this in the news media."
Rohrer also noted that first responders and parents who imagine losing children in such a tragedy might also be in need of guidance and healing.

Connor said that he doesn't want people to think that those at Ghost Ship were there because of marginalization by society.

"Many people were there not out of being relegated but out of being empowered," he said. "Out of their relegation they found empowerment at Ghost Ship."

Connor also does not want the victims to be forgotten.

"They deserve a bit of recompense from the communities they inhabit," he said.
Rohrer said the evening would be one of musical remembrance.

"There will also be poetic spoken word and faith offerings, as well as light projection with some instrumental sounds," Rohrer explained.

Rohrer, who prefers gender-neutral pronouns, said that pews would be removed from the sanctuary so that people could move about freely to partake of the various performances that will take place simultaneously.
"This is a true warehouse experience but in a cathedral," they said. "The acoustics at Grace Cathedral are very bouncy so people can choose their own adventure."

Participants scheduled to appear include SOS Singers of the Street, a chorus of homeless people that Rohrer leads; throat singer Enrique Ugalde; and opera diva Marissa Lenhardt Patton. Students from the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts are also expected to participate.

Ambient sounds will be provided by Katabatik-Jay Fields, while Terry Estioko will offer video projections. The Very Reverend Dr. Malcolm Clemens Young of Grace Cathedral will also be present.
"Ghost Ship," a new poem written by singer-songwriter Judy Collins and posted on her Facebook page December 18, will be read as part of the elegy.

"Given the political climate we live in every opportunity to use art and to find hope and counter divisiveness is an opportunity to embody the world we all deserve," Rohrer said, referring to the Trump administration. "Art is healing. People of all economic statures deserve a safe space to make and enjoy art. These spaces should be open to people of all sexual orientations and gender identities."
The concert is part of the cathedral's "Spacious Grace," an annual free-form arts festival.

"Elegy for Ghost Ship" will take place February 23 from 8 to 10 p.m. at Grace Cathedral, 1100 California Street. No admission will be charged, but donations will be accepted. Proceeds to benefit the Trans Assistance Project in Oakland.

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