San Francisco Names Nation’s First ‘Drag Laureate’: D’Arcy Drollinger
In an effort to combat the joyless, monochromatic fuddy-duddies trying to ban drag performers with legislature, the city of San Francisco has appointed its first “drag laureate”: performer and nightclub owner D’Arcy Drollinger. The city’s mayor, London Breed, said the role made sense for a city with a long history of supporting LGBTQ+ rights. Drollinger will receive a $55,000 stipend from government funds for the position — the first of its kind in the nation — for a year and a half of service, according to The Associated Press.
“My goals are to make San Francisco sparkle,” Drollinger, who owns the city’s Oasis nightclub and hosted a “Meals on Heels” program in the city during pandemic lockdowns, told the AP. “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. I’m going to be in drag pretty much 24/7 for the next 18 months.”
Drollinger added that she’s excited to help foster a sense of political activism among drag artists. “There’s a lot of power for the drag community in San Francisco,” she said. “I feel very honored to be able to take that one more step.”
“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 said of Drollinger to the AP.
A job ad for “drag laureate,” posted to the city of San Francisco’s website in November, listed requirements including a “fundamental knowledge of San Francisco Drag History,” “enthusiasm and love for San Francisco, and demonstrate the ability to serve as its ambassador,” and “a background in Community Activism, Engagement, and Philanthropy.” Drollinger is also expected to “organize, produce and manage events/projects from start to finish.” She must also “ensure San Francisco’s rich drag history is shared, honored, and preserved.”
The appointment comes on the heels of several acts of violence and aggression against drag artists. Conservative groups, including the Proud Boys, have protested Drag Story Hour events at libraries (including one in California’s Bay Area), and others have thrown smoke grenades at drag events in Oregon, according to the AP. A drag queen’s birthday party in Colorado Springs, Colorado, turned into a mass shooting when a man killed five and injured 17 others last November. In March, Tennessee enacted a law prohibiting drag shows.
“I know that there are a lot of anti-drag folks out there, and they are very loud, right?” Drollinger told the AP. “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. So, yes, I am a little nervous. But I got a lot of fabulous people and fabulousness behind me.”
Like San Francisco, New York, and West Hollywood, California have been attempting to appoint their own drag laureates. A proposal in the former can’t quite make it through, though, while the latter plans on announcing its inaugural laureate (paying that person $15,000) on July 16, International Drag Day, according to The AP.
“One of the things that I appreciate about D’Arcy is the fact that she’s not willing to go and hide,” Breed told The AP. “She thinks it’s important to continue to knock down barriers and put yourself out there and that gives other people the opportunity to feel safe and put themselves out there as well.”