D'Arcy Drollinger makes history as first-ever drag laureate in US

The 18-month role comes with a $55,000 stipend to make sure drag history is "shared, honoured and preserved".

San Francisco council members stand with newly appointed drag laureate to represent the city.
Image: Twitter @RafaelMandelman

As lawmakers continue to propose anti-LGBTQ+ legislation across the US, San Francisco is fighting back and demonstrating its support for drag performers by naming the nation’s first-ever drag laureate to represent the city.

On Thursday, May 18, popular drag performer and nightclub owner D’Arcy Drollinger, 54, was selected for the 18-month title, which comes with a $55,000 stipend. The role was established by Mayor London Breed, who wanted to create an ambassador-style position that prioritises and embraces drag culture by directing government resources toward it.

The job posting called for someone who can “embody San Francisco’s historic, diverse and inclusive drag culture, elevating the entire community on the national and international stage.” D’Arcy was deemed a perfect fit, as in addition to her drag work, she is also the founder of Oasis Art, a non-profit organisation that supports queer artists, and she hosted a ‘Meals on Heels’ program in the city during Covid-19 lockdowns.

For the next year and a half, Drollinger’s responsibilities will include producing drag events, serving as a spokesperson for San Francisco’s LGBTQ+ community and helping ensure that the city’s drag history is “shared, honoured and preserved” during her tenure.


Mayor London Breed said: “This new program allows us to embrace and elevate drag performers who use their art and advocacy to contribute to our city’s history around civil rights & equality…Despite the hateful laws discriminating against drag performers and the LGBTQ+ community across the country, our city remains committed to creating new and innovative programs like this.

“We’ve made it clear that SF will always support and celebrate our LGTBQ+ community members.”


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. Above all, she plans to make the city sparkle.

“Drag performers bring a lot of sparkle and humour and glamour and silliness to the world. I think that is part of why drag is so successful.”

Regarding the prevalence of anti-drag legislation and a rise in hate crimes across the US, Drollinger hopes to spread the message that drag is something to celebrate, not fear. She said: “I know that there are a lot of anti-drag folks out there, and they are very loud, right? But I also don’t want to live my life under the shadow of fear.”

She added, “So, yes, I am a little nervous. But I got a lot of fabulous people and fabulousness behind me.”

Drollinger will officially start her role three weeks before Pride month festivities begin, sharing: “I’m going to be in drag pretty much 24/7 for the next 18 months.”


Jonathan Hamilt, Executive Director of Drag Story Hour, a global non-profit event network that began in San Francisco in 2015, said he hopes other cities will enact drag laureate programs and show their commitment to protecting drag performers.

West Hollywood is poised to appoint its own drag laureate later this month, while New York has been trying to create a similar position since 2021, but has yet to gain the support it needs to pass in committee.

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