Jeff McGee AKA Kelli Collins

Jeff was an integral part of the gay community in the 80s and 90s. His performances as Kelli Collins in innumerable drag shows raised thousands of dollars for many causes, primarily for early AIDS victims who had no financial or medical support at that time.

Jeff moved to the South Bay in 1981. It wasn’t long after arriving in San Jose that AIDS became a tragic reality for the entire community. Jeff began to attend and host fundraisers with the Imperial AIDS Foundation to help support awareness.

Before long, he found himself more deeply involved with the community and started doing drag and performing at various events at The Savoy, TD’s, Club St. John, Mac’s Club, Buck’s, and any other venue whose doors and hearts were open.

Fundraising for the AIDS victims united lesbians and gay men, and also enabled much needed financial help for so many victims of this then-misunderstood disease.

While fundraising for the Imperial AIDS Foundation, he was asked if he’d be interested in joining a group of entertainers, fundraisers, and club personalities in the South Bay community by becoming part of a group representing the Imperial Court System, a nationwide organization.

The South Bay chapter of the Imperial Court System was called the Imperial Royal Lion Monarchy (IRLM). The figureheads of the organization were called Emperors and the Empresses. Jeff accepted the nomination for Empress, and in 1990, as his stage persona Kelli Collins, was crowned Empress 20 of the Imperial Royal Lion Monarchy. 

The AIDS crisis continued, so the fundraising and the generosity of the community, both lesbian and gay alike, came together and supported the fight against discrimination, AIDS and many other issues of the day. There was a true sense of community during those times. Everyone opened their hearts and their wallets and joined forces to get done what needed to be done.

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