San Francisco names nation's first ever 'drag laureate' with $55,000 stipend

"My goals are to make San Francisco sparkle."

Katie Daviscourt Seattle WA
The city of San Francisco named drag performer D'Arcy Drollinger as the nation's first-ever drag laureate on Thursday to act as an ambassador to the city's LGBTQ community.

D'Arcy Drollinger, a well-known drag performer and night club owner in San Francisco, will receive a $55,000 taxpayer-funded stipend for his role which is under an 18-month city contract, according to Associated Press.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed created the drag laureate position for Drollinger as means of using government resources to fight back against the nationwide attacks on the LGBTQ community, such as Drag Queen Story Hour events where men dressed as women read to children and perform sexual dances.

Mayor Breed boasted about Drollinger to the Associated Press, calling him a "bright star in San Francisco" for his political activism in the city's sprawling LGBTQ community.

"Whether it's through a tragedy or to celebrate an occasion, she really has been a leader in this community and supporter of so many others," Breed told the outlet.

D'Arcy Drollinger, a man that uses feminine pronouns when dressed in drag, says that he plans to make the golden city "sparkle" and will be dressed in drag queen attire "pretty much 24/7 for the next 18 months."

"My goals are to make San Francisco sparkle. I think drag performers bring a lot of sparkle and humor and glamor and silliness to the world. I think that is part of why drag is so successful," Drollinger said to AP.

"There's a lot of power for the drag community in San Francisco," he explained. "I feel very honored to be able to take that one more step."

The drag queen, who owns a popular LGBTQ night club in San Francisco called Oasis, was inaguarated just weeks before Pride Month begins in June.

D'Arcy Drollinger's role as the city's drag laureate will include "producing and participating in drag events" and to "serve as a spokesperson for San Francisco's LGBTQ+ community" by helping "officials to ensuring the city’s drag history is 'shared, honored and preserved,'" AP reports.

The initial listing for the drag laureate position on the city's website stated that they were seeking someone who would "embody San Francisco's historic, diverse and inclusive drag culture, elevating the entire community on the national and international stage."

D'Arcy Drollinger announced his position in an Instagram post on Thursday with the caption, "I'm honored, humbled and thrilled to be named the first ever Drag Laureate. And in the fabulous city where I was born. Let's get this party started."

The picture featured Drollinger standing inside one of San Francisco's iconic "trolley" cars while wearing a blue dress and white heels as he wrapped his legs around a pole.

In a follow up post on Friday, Drollinger thanked the community for the outpour of "love and support."

"Yesterday was a high point in my life," the drag queen said. "Thank you all for the outpouring of love and support. As an SF native this city is more than just home, it's part of who I am."

Speaking to the Associated Press about the nationwide pushback against the drag queen community, Drollinger said that he hopes to use his position to encourage other drag performers that they don't have to me initimidated into silence, saying that the protests against Drag Queen Story Hour events left her feeling "shaken."

"I know that there are a lot of anti-drag folks out there, and they are very loud, right? But I also don’t want to live my life under the shadow of fear. I don’t want to have intimidation stop me from growing," he said.

"So, yes, I am a little nervous. But I got a lot of fabulous people and fabulousness behind me."

Drag Story Hour, which began as a nonprofit in San Francisco in 2015, has sparked nationwide controversy over the plethora of instances where men dressed as women, otherwise known as "drag", have used these events to give sexual performances to children.

Executive director of Drag Story Hour, Jonathan Hamlit, told Associated Press that he hopes more city's will adopt drag laureate programs.

"It’s just having that visibility and having that personal human connection — having that social story of someone from your community that looks like you or someone that you see or interact with on a regular basis," Hamlit said.

California state senator Scott Weiner was thrilled about Drollinger's new position and took to Twitter to congratulate both the drag queen and Mayor Breed.

"So excited about SF's first Drag Laureate, D’Arcy Drollinger. And my nails even match her dress! D'Arcy is an icon & helped create Oasis, a nightclub that gives queer performers a chance to shine. Thank you D’Arcy & also @LondonBreed for creating this inspiring new role for SF," senator Weiner wrote.

The city of West Hollywood is set to become the second in the nation to name a drag laurate on July 16, otherwise known as International Drag Day, which will offer $15,000 for the position, according to AP.

In 2021, New York City proposed legislation which would have created a drag laureate position but a comittee struck it down.

Drollinger told the outlet, "I hope that the drag laureate position telegraphs to the rest of the country that drag is not something to be scared of," and added, "Drag is something to celebrate."

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