At a time when drag performances are under attack in conservative states, San Francisco has named the nation’s first drag laureate.
The honor goes to D’Arcy Drollinger, a popular drag performer and owner of the Oasis nightclub, the Associated Press reports. During last year’s Pride season, Mayor London Breed announced the position would be created, and candidates began applying in the fall. The pick of Drollinger was revealed Thursday. Drollinger will hold the title for 18 months and receive a $55,000 stipend from the city.
“My goals are to make San Francisco sparkle,” Drollinger, a cisgender man who uses female pronouns when in the drag persona, 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.”
“Her duties will span from producing and participating in drag events to serving as a spokesperson for San Francisco’s LGBTQ+ community to helping officials to ensuring the city’s drag history is ‘shared, honored and preserved,’” the news service reports. Drollinger said she expects “to be in drag pretty much 24/7 for the next 18 months.”
To San Francisco TV station KGO, Drollinger added, “I feel so honored to get to be the first. It felt a little like it was tailor-made for me ... it really did track with what I’ve been doing for the past 10 years in San Francisco.”
Her accomplishments include running Oasis’s “Meals on Heels” program during the pandemic shutdown, when drag queens delivered food and drink to customers’ homes and offered lip-synched performances from a safe distance.
Breed told the AP that Drollinger is a “bright star in San Francisco,″ noting, “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.” Creating the position demonstrates the city’s support of drag culture, the mayor said.
West Hollywood plans to appoint a drag laureate soon, while an effort to do so in New York City has stalled, the AP reports.
The attacks on drag in the past year include right-wing protests of drag queen story hours and other events, even including at least one in the Bay Area. GLAAD and Equality Texas tracked 141 protests and threats against drag events in 2022, with the largest number coming in Texas. And this year Tennessee enacted the nation’s first state law restricting drag performances; it is temporarily blocked by court action while a lawsuit proceeds.
“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.”