When Sharon Gless learned that her movie “Hannah Free” would be the closing night feature at the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, she immediately committed to flying in for the event. She also made a request.
“I saw the activities that were going on that weekend. And I said, ‘I would like to do the Dyke March. I’d like to march with these women and show my support. That would be a cool thing to do.’ They said, ‘OK. Sharon. You’ll do 15 minutes and then we’ll scoot you out.’ I said, ‘Nooo! I’m doing the whole thing.’ ”
The Dyke March, which is separate from the Gay Pride Parade on Sunday, originates at 7 p.m. Saturday at Dolores Park, preceded by a rally at 3 p.m. Gless will speak at 5:45, and then join an estimated 40,000 women marching through the Mission and Castro neighborhoods.
It was Sgt. Christine Cagney, the complex, hard-drinking cop that Gless played in the 1980s TV series “Cagney & Lacey,” that brought her a large lesbian following. Whereas Tyne Daly’s character, Mary Beth Lacey, was a working mom with a loving husband, Cagney was single, a lone wolf in a tough, misogynist profession.
Later, Gless played Debbie Novotny, a foul-mouthed waitress and mother hen to a group of gay men in the 2000-05 cable series “Queer as Folk.” That series expanded her gay fan base and resuscitated Gless’ career after a fallow period.
“The truth is, the gay community and lesbian community have been so wonderful to me, so supportive of me throughout my career,” Gless, 66, said by phone from Miami, where she lives with her husband of 18 years, “Cagney & Lacey” producer Barney Rosenzweig.
“Hannah Free” should be catnip to Gless’ lesbian fans. The movie was filmed in Chicago on a three-week schedule and $200,000 budget, and Gless, who ages from 50 to 80 in the story, brings grit, authenticity and dimension to the title character. She commands the screen as Hannah, an assertive, masculine lesbian who spending a lifetime pursuing a passionate, mostly thwarted love affair with her childhood friend.
Hannah Free: 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St. Film: $15 for Frameline members, $20 general; film and after-party: $50 for Frameline members, $60 general. Tickets at Superstar Satellite, 474 Castro St., or online at http://www.frameline.org.