PRC Brief: Black History Month Highlight — Sylvester

As Black History Month comes to a close, we’d like to highlight someone with profound significance to PRC. Sylvester, “Queen of Disco”, was known for his gender-bending persona and performances, flamboyant and androgynous appearance, falsetto singing voice, and hit disco singles in the late 1970s and 1980s. An inspiration to countless LGBTQ+ people, Sylvester was a trailblazer within the drag community and always unequivocally himself. You can learn more about Sylvester in this 8-part podcast about Sylvester’s life.

As one of the first public figures to be open that he was dying of AIDS, Sylvester was instrumental in raising awareness of the disease and fundraised to support the cause until his death in 1988. Prior to his passing, Sylvester selected two organizations he received support from during his lifetime — AIDS Emergency Fund (read the history of how this became PRC’s Emergency Financial Assistance program) and Project Open Hand — as the beneficiaries of his estate and future music royalties.

Sylvester attending the Castro’s 1988 Gay Freedom Parade in a wheelchair

We continue to receive financial support thanks to Sylvester’s foresight and are proud to be connected in this meaningful way with such an inspirational figure.

To honor Sylvester’s legacy, PRC named its signature fundraising event after his biggest hit, You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real), and each year we give the Sylvester Community Pillar Award to an individual who embodies the love, joy, individualism, and sheer fabulousness of Sylvester. Past recipients include drag
personality and LGBTQ+ advocate Donna Sachet, Former SF Pride President and LGBTQ+ advocate Gary Virginia, singer and actress Dionne Warwick, and singer-songwriter Patti LaBelle.

Ideas on who we should honor in 2023? Send us your nomination with why you think they should be honored to [email protected]!

We’re hard at work planning the 2023 Mighty Real Gala and look forward to announcing the date soon. In the meantime, save the date for Gary Virginia & Donna Sachet’s Pride Brunch, benefitting PRC, on Saturday, June 24, and enjoy getting Mighty Real!

Sylvester — You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)