San Francisco announces the nation’s first drag award winner

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Anti-trans legislation is rocking the nation. Bills banning drag performances are appearing in state houses. Violence and wickedness become childish Drag Story Hour Events in headline protests.

San Francisco is fighting back Thursday by appointing the country’s first drag laureate, an ambassador-style position meant to represent the city’s famed LGBTQ+ community at a time when rights are under attack.

In a city known for its support of LGBTQ+ rights, San Francisco Mayor London Breed says creating a position that not only supports drag culture but also government resources was a natural step provides for this. D’Arcy Drollinger, a popular drag performer and nightclub owner, has been awarded a $55,000 stipend for her 18-month role as the city’s first drag honoree.

“My goal is to make San Francisco shine. I think drag performers bring a lot of glitz, humor, glamor and silliness into the world. I think that’s one of the reasons why drag is so successful,” Drollinger said, adding that she expects to be in the drag scene throughout her role. “I’m going to be in the drag scene pretty much 24/7 for the next 18 months.”

She noted that San Francisco’s drag community was already politically engaged and active.

“The drag community in San Francisco has a lot of power,” she said. “I feel very honored to be able to take this further step.”

West Hollywood is close to naming its own drag honoree later this month, albeit at a much lower salary and with limited commitments. In New York, where the Stonewall riots Although this marked a major turning point in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights, an attempt in 2021 to create such a position failed in a committee, reflecting the challenges of creating such jobs even in liberal cities.

In San Francisco, Drollinger will open the role three weeks before Pride Month begins. Her responsibilities range from producing and attending drag events, to serving as a spokesperson for San Francisco’s LGBTQ+ community, to assisting officials in ensuring the city’s drag history is “shared, honored, and preserved.” The job posting was looking for someone who “embodies San Francisco’s historic, diverse, and inclusive drag culture and uplifts the entire community nationally and internationally.”

The city’s mayor called Drollinger a “bright star in San Francisco” for her advocacy and nurturing of the city’s drag community.

“Whether it was to tragedy or to celebrate a special occasion, she was truly a leader in this community and a supporter of so many others,” Breed told The Associated Press.

Drollinger said she felt both nervous and honored to be told the job was hers, given the recent violence against drag performers, even in the Bay Area.

“I know there are a lot of anti-drag people out there, and they’re very loud, right? But I don’t want to live my life in the shadow of fear either. I don’t want intimidation to stop me from growing,” she said. “So yeah, I’m a little nervous. But I’ve come from a lot of great people and a lot of fabulousness.”

Members of the Proud Boys solved one Hate Crime Investigation when they protested and shouted insults last June outside a Bay Area library where the Drag Story Hour, where drag queens read to children, was taking place. In Oregon last year, protesters – some armed – threw stones and smoke grenades on top of each other outside of a drag event.

In November, a shooter in one happened Nightclub in Colorado Springs turned a drag queen’s birthday party into a massacre, killing five and injuring 17 others. The suspect was charged with hate crimes and murder.

The American Civil Liberties Union is prosecuting 474 anti-LGBTQ+ laws in the US, including Tennessee’s first law in the nation that essentially prohibits towing on public property or in the presence of a minor. A federal judge temporarily blocked the measure Hours before it was due to take effect at the end of March.

Jonathan Hamilt, executive director of Drag Story Hour, a global nonprofit events network founded in San Francisco in 2015, said he hopes other cities across the country will launch their own drag laureate programs.

“It’s just about having that visibility and having that personal human connection — the social history of someone in your community who looks like you, or someone you see or interact with regularly,” Hamilt said .

New York City Councilwoman Kristin Richardson Johnson plans to continue lobbying for a drag laureate in her city if the position doesn’t gain support this year. Jack McClatchy, the elected official’s legislative and budget director, could not give a specific reason why the effort has stalled, merely pointing out that it is one of more than 1,000 bills before the council.

West Hollywood, which was founded in part by LGBTQ+ activists in 1984, is expected to name its drag laurate in the coming weeks after an attempt in 2021 fell through over a salary dispute. Officials originally advertised the position with a $5,000 stipend, nearly double the city’s poetry award winner. Pushback prompted the council to increase the amount to $15,000 per year for the two-year term beginning on July 16, International Drag Day.

Drollinger is the owner of the Oasis nightclub, where ” Meals on heels ” following the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, which saw drag performers bring food, cocktails and socially distanced lip-synch performances to customers based at home.

“I hope that the drag award winner’s position sends a signal to the rest of the country that drag is not something to be afraid of,” Drollinger said. “Drag is something to celebrate.”

Dazio reported from Los Angeles.

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