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Is SF a Drag? Bay Area Drag Queens and Kings Say: Yes!

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Two drag artists smile as they stand on the street.
Dulce De Leche poses with Juanita MORE! during the event San Francisco is a Drag, a series of outdoor drag performances in San Francisco on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023. Organizers Juanita MORE!, Honey Mahogany, and D’Arcy Drollinger partnered with The Civic Joy Fun and Oasis Arts to coordinate performances for 100 drag artists throughout San Francisco on December 2 and 3. The series kicked off in North Beach on Saturday on seven street corners throughout the neighborhood. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

While some say San Francisco is in a doom loop of business closures and crime, others — like the over 100 drag kings and queens performing across the city this weekend — are bringing joy and entertainment to public spaces throughout the city.

Drag performers are taking over the city streets Dec. 2–3 from noon to 5 p.m. with San Francisco is a Drag, an event organized by Oasis Arts in partnership with San Francisco Drag Laureate D’Arcy Drollinger; activist and chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party, Honey Mahogany; and activist Juanita MORE!

A drag artist performs in front of City Lights bookstore in North Beach.
Ida Knowe performs during the event San Francisco is a Drag in front of City Lights bookstore in North Beach on Saturday. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

“A lot of the places in the areas that we’ve chosen are where some of our local queer businesses are because we want to support them as well,” said co-organizer MORE! who has been performing drag in San Francisco for over 30 years.

“Drag is such a political act. And today and tomorrow are going to be really powerful in a lot of ways. I hope people come out and support it and support the businesses that are around it,” they told KQED before the event got underway.

Two drag artists watch and smile on a street corner with some people in the background.
Honey Mahogany and Juanita MORE! watch Dulce De Leche perform during the event San Francisco is a Drag on Saturday. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

The event includes performances by Gina LaDivina, Dottie Lux and Dulce De Leche, among others.

Oakland-based drag performer Dulce De Leche said the event will be a “win-win” for the city, bringing people out for a good time while also supporting the artists and performers.

“One hundred drag queens performing all at the same time, that’s pretty amazing,” said De Leche. “I definitely wanted to be part of that. Plus Juanita MORE! is my drag mother … I love supporting her in all her endeavors.”

A drag performer in a white dress singing on a traffic island as cars go by.
Dulce De Leche performs on Columbus Avenue during the event San Francisco is a Drag on Saturday. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Passerby Ana Gonzalez said she and her mother were just wandering through Chinatown when they suddenly found themselves in a drag performance.

“It’s a very San Francisco thing … I love it,”  said Gonzalez. “I really like the vibe, people happy and enjoying themselves.”

A drag artist and three other performers holding signs that say "cut U.S. military aid to apartheid Israel" on a street corner.
Hennessy Williams reads poetry in support of Palestinians during the event San Francisco is a Drag. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

San Francisco resident Tracii Chambers was at the event supporting a friend who was performing.

“There’s never been a drag performance, I think, done to this caliber, and there’s no better place for it to be than here,” Chambers said. “It’s a lot of my greatest friends. It’s a lot of people that I’ve seen flourish in this community … and will carry on the legacy of the community.”

A drag artist sings on the sidewalk.
Gina LaDivina performs during the event San Francisco is a Drag, a series of outdoor drag performances in San Francisco on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

MORE! Says the event is a testament to the legacy of drag in San Francisco. In the past, friends were getting arrested for just being queer or cross-dressing, they said. “So we’ve come a long way in showing that respect and love for this art form. And I want people to look at it as that and enjoy it.”

“What the organizers have pulled together is kind of incredible. We wanted to support this. [It] all came out of wanting to support local drag and non-binary trailblazers, all the transgender friends, drag kings, queens,” MORE! said, adding that the event was a response to legislation nationwide in recent years that has targeted the LGBTQ community.

A drag artist is given a blue wig as they smile while another drag artist puts it on.
Gina LaDivina adjusts Dulce De Leche’s hat before San Francisco is a Drag. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

“This is showing the world that San Francisco still loves drag, loves its artists, and that we have so many amazing people. It’s so colorful. It’s so entertaining. It’s lovely,” said MORE!

An African American drag artist performs as passersby look on and cheer.
People passing by watch as Helixir performs during the event San Francisco is a Drag. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

KQED’s Lakshmi Sarah, Annelise Finney, Beth LaBerge, Rachael Vazquez and Attila Pelit contributed to this story.

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