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San Francisco names nation's first ever drag laureate

S.F. names D’Arcy Drollinger drag laureate, a first for the nation
S.F. names D’Arcy Drollinger drag laureate, a first for the nation 03:13

SAN FRANCISCO -- Excitement and pride are palpable at the San Francisco LGBT Center as the news spreads about the groundbreaking appointment of D'Arcy Drollinger as the city's first drag laureate.

"I'm very grateful to be the very first drag laureate of San Francisco and the first one ever," said Drollinger, who is already well-known as the owner of Oasis, a popular LGBTQ nightclub and cabaret nestled in the vibrant South of Market neighborhood. 

D'Arcy is also the founder of Oasis Art, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting queer artists in the Bay Area.

"The pandemic hit, and suddenly everything disappeared. That's when we had to think outside of the box, and that's when 'Meal on Heels' was created. We wanted to find a way to entertain people and bring a spark of joy during that very dark time. Additionally, we wanted to provide employment opportunities for the drag community, who suddenly found themselves without jobs," added Drollinger. 

San Francisco Drag Laureate
Nutasha Quintine dances during a drag show at D'Arcy Drollinger's Oasis nightclub May 16, 2023, in San Francisco Noah Berger / AP

The position of drag laureate, established for a duration of two years with a $55,000 stipend, emerged from the LGBTQ+ Cultural Heritage Task Force's comprehensive 2020 report. This report served as the foundation for San Francisco's LGBTQ+ Cultural Heritage Strategy, a collection of initiatives aimed at preserving and celebrating the city's diverse queer community.

Mayor London Breed's decision to appoint D'Arcy Drollinger holds immense significance, particularly given the mounting challenges faced by the transgender community nationwide.

"D'Arcy is an incredible individual, and it's truly wonderful to see San Francisco celebrating drag queens at this time when drag is facing attacks across the country," shared Honey Mahogany, a local activist, politician, and social worker.

Honey said she hopes that D'Arcy's appointment will serve as an example for other cities and states grappling with similar issues.

"We've witnessed drag bans and drag queens being prohibited from performing in public. It's a frightening situation because we know that these bans not only harm drag queens but can also affect the lives of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals in their daily experiences," added Honey.

D'Arcy Drollinger says she is committed to championing drag as an art form, fostering cultural dialogue, and amplifying the unique perspectives of the LGBTQ+ community.

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