News Briefs: Last chance to apply for SF drag laureate

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Wednesday January 11, 2023
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San Francisco Mayor London Breed, at left, has announced that the application process for the city's first drag laureate position is now open and closes February 16. Photo: Rick Gerharter
San Francisco Mayor London Breed, at left, has announced that the application process for the city's first drag laureate position is now open and closes February 16. Photo: Rick Gerharter

Calling all interested San Francisco drag artists: time is running out to apply for the inaugural drag laureate post the city created last year.

As the Bay Area Reporter previously reported, Mayor London Breed is expected to appoint the person this spring. The deadline to apply had been set for Monday, January 16, but it has been extended to Thursday, February 16. People must be full-time residents of the city and county and be at least 21 years old.

There will be an online informational session and webinar Tuesday, January 24, from 5 to 6 p.m., the mayor's office stated this week.

A vetting committee of community leaders will recommend up to five applicants for Breed to choose from; half a dozen people have already applied, the B.A.R. has learned. The drag laureate will serve for 18 months and receive an honorarium of $55,000 to help cover the costs of performing their duties.

"San Francisco's commitment to inclusivity and the arts are the foundation for who we are as a city," said Breed in a November statement. "Drag artists have helped pave the way for LGBTQ rights and representation across our city, and they are a part of what makes our city so special. Investing in programs that continue their legacies and create opportunities for the next generation of drag performers to thrive help us to celebrate our city and this community."

The city of West Hollywood is also planning to select a drag laureate but its process is being retooled after a disappointing number of applicants, as the B.A.R. previously reported.

San Francisco's drag laureate position comes as drag culture in general is increasingly maligned by conservatives across the country, with lawmakers in a number of states backing laws to ban drag shows in public places. A star-studded holiday drag show in Florida is being investigated by the state after allegations that the show was marketing to kids. This was despite the venue indicating on the tickets that the show was for people 18 and over unless children were accompanied by an adult.

San Francisco's drag laureate is expected to highlight drag culture in a variety of settings and is envisioned to be a boost for local nightlife.

"San Francisco would not be the beacon for LGBTQ rights it is without drag artists," gay District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who represents the city's LGBTQ Castro district, previously stated. "This program is an appropriate recognition of the essential role drag plays in our queer culture, and I look forward to seeing who will be named our first drag laureate."

Those interested in applying to be San Francisco's drag laureate can do so online.

Join an SFAF social support group this year

Now that the new year has begun, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation is reaching out to invite people to join — or rejoin — one of its many support groups.

In an email announcement to supporters, Preston Vargas, Ph.D., interim senior director of community partnerships and engagement for the AIDS foundation, pointed to the various support groups that are available. Some, like walk-in substance use support and meth use support, deal with those specific issues. Others are program support groups, like SFAF's long-running Black Brothers Esteem, Elizabeth Taylor 50-Plus Network, Latino Life, and TransLife.

"As you think about how you want to create your new year, I invite you to discover (or rediscover) our Social Support Groups, consider attending an event, or perhaps even volunteer with SFAF in 2023," Vargas wrote. "Everyone wants to belong, be part of a community, and be included. To be able to go into spaces where we can set down our armor, be vulnerable and be loved — is something I'm so grateful to have found at San Francisco AIDS Foundation."

For more information on the array of support groups, click here.

Oakland LGBTQ center seeks board members

The Oakland LGBTQ Community Center has announced that it has two open seats on its board of directors that it is seeking to fill.

"We are looking for dynamic and committed individuals to join our leadership team," stated an email announcement from the center.

The center, which was established in 2017 and is located near Lake Merritt, provides a number of services such as those for queer youth, LGBTQ seniors, queer people of color, trans people, and more. It operates the Glenn Burke Wellness Clinic, and provides mental health support and rental/housing assistance.

To apply, interested people should email a cover letter and resume to [email protected]

For more information about the center, click here.

The U.S. Postal Service's new Lunar New Year stamp goes on sale January 12. Photo: Courtesy USPS  

Lunar New Year stamp released in SF
The United States Postal Service has issued a new stamp for the upcoming Lunar New Year, which is the Year of the Rabbit.

The Forever stamp will be officially unveiled Thursday (January 12) at 11 a.m. at a dedication ceremony in San Francisco at the Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin Street. Those expected to be on hand include Breed; Derek Kan, from the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors; state Treasurer Fiona Ma; and Jay Xu, director of the Asian Art Museum.

The event is free and open to the public.

Lunar New Year begins Sunday, January 22.

This stamp design calls to mind the elaborately decorated masks used in the dragon or lion dances often performed in Lunar New Year parades, according to a news release from the postal service. This three-dimensional mask depicting a rabbit is a contemporary take on the long tradition of paper-cut folk art crafts created during this auspicious time of year. The rabbit mask design incorporates colors and patterns with symbolic meaning.

Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the stamp and the pane with original art by Camille Chew, according to the release.

The Year of the Rabbit stamp is being issued in panes of 20. It will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce price, the postal service stated.

Lunar New Year is one of the most important holidays of the year for many Asian communities around the world and is primarily celebrated by people of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tibetan, Mongolian, Malaysian, and Filipino heritage, the release stated. Across these varied cultures, many traditions exist for ringing in a new year of good luck and prosperity.

The stamps can be purchased at post offices or online at the postal service's store.

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