San Francisco Chronicle

S.F. offers $55,000 to be city’s first official drag laureate

- By Annie Vainshtein Reach Annie Vainshtein: AVainshtei­n@sfchronicl­ Twitter: @annievain

San Francisco officials on Tuesday sought to remind the public about their intentions to hire the first-ever drag laureate, an ambassador for the city’s drag community who will help promote and celebrate San Francisco’s storied drag legacy.

Mayor London Breed announced Tuesday that the city was accepting applicatio­ns until Feb. 16. The city is partnering with the San Francisco Public Library and the Human Rights Commission to select one person who will serve at the helm of San Francisco’s LGBTQ+ community for 18 months. The position comes with a $55,000 stipend.

The applicatio­n was released in mid-November.

The idea for the role came from San Francisco’s LBGTQ+ Cultural Heritage Strategy, a series of initiative­s intended to preserve San Francisco’s queer heritage, officials said. It also comes at a time in which drag shows and drag performers have been targeted by lawmakers and far-right groups seeking to restrict performanc­es around the U.S. amid a rising tide of anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment in some states.

“Drag is political,” said District Eight Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who represents the Castro district.

“And at a time when queer people are threatened by right-wing extremists across the country and around the world, it’s an honor and a privilege to represent a city that is lifting up our drag artists and highlighti­ng the stories of our entire LGBTQ+ community.”

In 2015, state Sen. Scott Wiener, then a city supervisor, sponsored an ordinance that created the LGBTQ+ Cultural Heritage Task Force, which released a report in 2020 that included various ideas and concerns from the queer community in San Francisco, city officials wrote in the applicatio­n.

Creating a San Francisco drag laureate position was one of the suggestion­s, they added.

“The new drag laureate program is a fantastic way to celebrate and support San Francisco’s vibrant and beautiful drag community,” Wiener wrote in a June statement. “Our drag performers are part of the heart and soul of our city.”

The person chosen for the position will be expected to promote the role of drag laureate, be a spokespers­on for the LGBTQ+ community, partner with different city agencies and community organizati­ons, ensure the city’s drag histories are preserved and play a part in selecting the next drag laureate.

Applicants have to be over 21 years old, full-time residents of San Francisco, have a reverence for and knowledge of the city’s drag history, and have experience working collaborat­ively to organize and manage events, among other things.

The applicatio­n review process will be overseen not only by the mayor’s office, but also the Arts Commission, the Entertainm­ent Commission, the Transgende­r District of San Francisco, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the LGBTQ Center of San Francisco and others.

Half a dozen people had already applied as of mid-January, according to the Bay Area Reporter, which covers issues for the city’s queer community.

The drag laureate honorarium is reportedly among the more than $17 million in one-time funding for LGBTQ+ needs that has been allocated in the city’s new fiscal budget, the outlet reported.

Other priorities in the budget include $6 million for HIV prevention service providers, and $6.5 million to end trans homelessne­ss.

 ?? Alison Yin/Special to The Chronicle ?? Bussy Dad, 25, finishes getting ready for her performanc­e at Fish Bowl Drag in the window of the Red Vic on Haight Street in San Francisco.
Alison Yin/Special to The Chronicle Bussy Dad, 25, finishes getting ready for her performanc­e at Fish Bowl Drag in the window of the Red Vic on Haight Street in San Francisco.

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