The first to call her "Mama" was a popular drag persona "Ernestine". Robert Sastini and Mama were in the Phoenix, (San Francisco's Castro District), over 18 years ago and Ernestine commented something to the affect of "you must be my "Mama". There in that bar, a family tradition would be born that neither knew would flourish into the "Mama's Family" that now exists.
As time went on, there appeared, without a real plan, gold shiny pins on the first 10 members, who were active in the community either by titles they held or their volunteerism. Ernestine had two: Mama’s Slave, Mama's Smooth Operator. Robert Anaya was 2nd with Mama's Baby followed by Timur Muhrlin with three, followed by his partner Lawrence Mortensen, Wayne Franks and then the unholy trio of Don Ho, Robert Larabee and Omar Mosley, with Michael Morrero and Ray Tilton rounding out the 'first ten".
Whenever we would all be together attending an event, we would see someone working hard for their charity, or do something that "stood out” and say "they should be Mama's ???? It was always fun to see what names we would come up with for Mama's "next victim". Depending on how many cocktails we all had that night and who the person was; you never knew for sure which one would make Mama's final cut. Mama's parting words on those kinds of "pin naming" sessions would be "email me in the morning". Sure enough, next time we were all together and Mama saw that person, another pinning would take place. The pinning ceremony became quite an honor and usually the person didn't know they were about to be pinned. So the true looks of surprise honor and tears were a guarantee every time.
Some traditions that took place in the early years were such things as traveling pins. Mama's Drama Queen and Mama's Bitter One were given to unsuspecting members of the family for obvious reasons. It was always fun to see who got these pins. They were required to wear for one month. Even Mama herself once had the drama pin. The other tradition that only pertained to people with "multiple" Mama's pins could upon agreement with Mama pass one on to a deserving person as a way of being pinned into the family. Most went on to earn Mama’s pin of their own.
There are over 200 members with sashes that include Mr.SFL,IML, ABW, MAL, IMsL, Ms. World Leather, ILSB, Drummer, Drummer boy, Deaf Leather, Dyke Daddy Dyke Girl / Dyke boy ,Dyke DIVA, Leather Daddy/Daddy's boy, Int.Bootblack, US Daddy/boy.
Represented are the Imperials, Ducals and Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. There are politicians such as California State Senator Mark Leno and even some famous gay icons such as Armistead Maupin.
There are family members in over 42 states nationally and in over 4 countries internationally.
Mama has judged over 150 contests including ILSB, Ms. World Leather, ABW, Deaf Leather, No Regional LSb,ILS/b IMsl , MLT contests, as well as the bear community and transgender contests. She has judged every major contest in California, and contests in such states as Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and New Mexico, from Washington D.C. to Chicago, Dallas,Toronto and many more. Many contestants seek out her experience and knowledge of the contest circuit before competing.
Mama's family has earned recognition with International, regional and local titles as well as Pantheon Awards, and many honors of distinction within their own communities and governments.
Through individual fundraising efforts or through volunteerism Mama's family has been apart of raising over 2 million dollars annually, both locally and internationally since it begun.
Mama's family has helped over 300 different organizations with proceeds benefiting various charities.
Even with today's computer technology Mama still gives out the pins in a zip lock back with hand printed information request cards.
Mama used to give everyone pinned an extra pin and even replace broken or lost pins. As the family grew it became tooooo expensive and now newly pinned members get one pin and the information as to where to order replacements or duplicates.
If the family looks at their pins they will notice at some point the size and font changes. The newer member’s pins have a smaller font.
I am honored that "the wife" has asked me to write a "new" history about the family. It is hard to believe that there have been almost 2000 members pinned since I was pinned #10. Since it's inception we have lost only 40 members. Like all families, we have lost members to AIDS, drug overdoses, cancer etc. We will never forget their indomitable spirits and everlasting contributions to the entire LGBT community. For many of us 440 Castro will always be Daddy's bar, the AEF and Leather Daddy/Daddy's boy contest will always be Alan Selby, when ever we think of a vampire we will always think of Omar Mosley, and every time we do a fundraiser, attend ABW, MAL, IML ,ILS/b,or the many other leather events around the globe, we will think of those no longer with us, carrying them in our hearts and minds.
I will end this article with the words of our Mama: "Do it from the heart, with manners and respect".