San Francisco Taxpayers Fund ‘Drag Laureate’

Drag Laureate
D’Arcy Drollinger | Image by City of San Francisco

The City of San Francisco has rolled out a “Drag Laureate” position — the first in the nation — who will act as a community liaison and advocate to the tune of $55,000 in taxpayer money.

D’Arcy Drollinger has been announced as San Francisco’s Drag Laureate as part of a new initiative by the Mayor’s office, the San Francisco Public Library, and the Human Rights Commission.

Drollinger is described by the City of San Francisco as “an actor, writer, director, choreographer, producer, and entrepreneur. D’Arcy is the owner and artistic director of OASIS, which employs 200 individuals and was voted San Francisco’s best nightclub/cabaret.”

The City website also notes, “D’Arcy is the creator of Sexitude™, the body-positive, age-positive, sex-positive dance experience based in San Francisco.”

Some of the new Drag Laureate’s previous original works of filmography include “B***h Slap, Temple of P**n, and Disastrous, as well as the web series Hot Trash.”

“Drollinger’s first feature film, S**t & Champagne, became an instant cult classic,” the City claimed. The movie, which Drollinger wrote, directed, and starred in, has a 5.1 rating on IMDB.

Drollinger will “deliver an inaugural event in honor of this new position and will be expected to serve as an official ambassador for San Francisco’s drag community by attending community and civic events.”

“Additionally, the Drag Laureate will produce Drag-centered events and programming centered on celebrating and supporting San Francisco’s dynamic and diverse LGBTQIA+ community,” City documents explain.

As the first person to hold the position, Drollinger “will lead the way for revolutionary new representation that highlights the significant contributions of the LGBTQI+ community.”

Drollinger was selected by a review committee of 11 people from San Francisco’s LGBTQ community. One of the committee members, “Sister Roma,” has been at the center of controversy for depicting Catholic nuns, which led the Dodgers baseball team to invite, uninvite, and then ultimately bring back the group of drag performers.

The application for the Drag Laureate position specifically required the person to be someone who dresses in drag, and one of the essay questions asked, “How many years have you been doing Drag, and how have you been involved or supportive of this community?”

Applicants were also required to submit a three-minute video that “may be a brief performance [or] demonstration of your unique talents or spoken word.”

The $55,000 in taxpayer funds can be used for “personal or business-related costs or expenses related to meals, catering, transportation, lodging, fundraising or educational activities.” The money can also go to “capital expenses,” “penalties, late charges or interest on any late payments,” and “any costs or expenses which are prohibited under the terms and conditions of any federal or state grant supplying all or any portion of the Grant Funds.”

The announcement brought a wave of criticism, with some questioning the propriety of spending taxpayer funds on something like a Drag Laureate instead of other, more pressing, issues.

Kevin Dalton, a political observer, scoffed at the announcement, tweeting, “San Franciscans: Drug overdoses and violent crimes have become an epidemic in our city. San Francisco politicians: Best we can do is spend 55,000 of your tax dollars on a Drag Laureate.”

However, others, such as California State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), celebrated the move.

“So excited about SF’s first Drag Laureate, D’Arcy Drollinger. And my nails even match her dress!” the politician tweeted. “D’Arcy is an icon & helped create Oasis, a nightclub that gives queer performers a chance to shine.”

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said, “While drag culture is under attack in other parts of the country, in San Francisco we embrace and elevate the amazing drag performers who through their art and advocacy have contributed to our City’s history around civil rights and equity.”

San Francisco is not the only municipality considering naming a Drag Laureate: The City of West Hollywood is set to announce the position on July 1.

That person will work to “enhance the presence and appreciation of drag culture and arts in West Hollywood” and “inspire an emerging generation of drag artists by celebrating and promoting drag history.”

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