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Arts + CultureNightlifeGrassroots Queer Nightlife Fund raises $160K in aid for...

Grassroots Queer Nightlife Fund raises $160K in aid for workers

Community donor campaign begins disbursing relief grants to performers, DJs, stage techs, others affected by shutdown.

In a major example of how the Bay Area is coming together in a vacuum of political leadership and billionaire donors to take care of its own, the Queer Nightlife Fund announced today that it had raised $160,000 in funds through online efforts—and would begin disbursing grants to 176 local workers.

The recipients are mostly nightlife performers, staff, and others who rely on tips and wages which disappeared overnight in the wake of the March 13 COVID shutdown of bars, nightclubs, theaters, and restaurants. (Some performers have been able to eke out tips on streaming platforms, but this barely covers expenses of living here.)

The QNF, itself formed by a consortium of DJs, performers, and longtime nightlife personalities—plus Spencer Watson of the Center for LGBTQ Economic Advancement & Research—uses weekly streaming  Sunday Quaran-Tea dances and other online events to help raise tax-deductible donations for the project. (Recent Quaran-Tea dances have included a wide range of local wonders, from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence’s Hunky Jesus contest and the Flagging in the Park community to a recent installment that highlighted transgender DJs.)

“I’ve been overwhelmed by the community’s support for the fund,” QNF steering committee member and Polyglamorous DJ Mark O’Brien told me. “The QNF working group has been meeting 6 days a week since March 14, and it’s exciting to see our first campaign finally come to fruition. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we’ve helped a lot of folks in queer nightlife. We are going to keep on working at this, because the need is definitely still there.”

That need has convinced the QNF to continue its efforts. “This marks a major milestone for the QNF,” Watson says. “The shelter-in-place order has been extended through May, and all of our major queer holidays have now been canceled through the fall, including Pride and Folsom Street Fair. It remains uncertain when our vital cultural institutions can reopen and when we can again gather in person as a community. Therefore, the QNF has recognized the need for a second fundraising campaign and a new round of grant applications.”

That renewed effort kicks off Fri/1, 8pm-10pm, with a special DJ Friday Night Jam by drag goddess Juanita More and the fabulous Chrissy, and continues Sun/3, 1pm-6pm, for another Quaran-Tea dance, this one featuring the progressive sounds of longtime DJs Susan Morabito, Steve Sherwood, and the PLAY T-Dance party crew.

You can donate to the Queer Nightlife Fund here and apply here.

SF QUEER NIGHTLIFE FUND UPDATE, MAY 1

The San Francisco Queer Nightlife Fund is proud to announce that we are now disbursing grants from our first round of applications.

From March 16 to March 31, 2020, we received applications from 258 nightlife workers, of which 176 met our eligibility criteria. Applications were evaluated anonymously by an internal team of steering committee members and then underwent an auditing process to ensure integrity. Grant amounts were determined based on need, and all recipients are currently being notified.

This marks a major milestone for the QNF! The shelter-in-place order has been extended through May, and all of our major queer holidays have now been canceled through the fall, including Pride and Folsom Street Fair. It remains uncertain when our vital cultural institutions can reopen and when we can again gather in person as a community. Therefore, the QNF has recognized the need for a second fundraising campaign and a new round of grant applications.

Our first campaign has been incredibly successful. In only a little over a month, we raised approximately $160,000—almost entirely from individual donations. We have established new community rituals, including the weekly Sunday Quaran-Tea Dance, streamed live on Twitch and Zoom. These new rituals and the success of our fundraising efforts have revealed the strength and resilience of our community and have given us all hope for the future. Our commitment to the community remains stronger now than ever before.

Stay tuned shortly for our announcement of the opening of our second round of grant applications.

If you continue to have a reliable source of income, please consider donating to the fund, and consider making your donation weekly. The performers, artists, bartenders, and behind-the-scenes workers who make the nightlife magic happen in the SF Bay Area need our continued support in this extraordinary time.

Tune in THIS WEEKEND to two events:

Friday at 8 PM PDT, the San Francisco Bay Area Queer Nighlife Fund is proud to present a special Friday night soiree featuring music from San Francisco matriarch Juanita More, who also serves as a member of the SF QNF steering committee. She’ll be gifting us with some fantastic beats to kick off the weekend. Also joining us is Chrissy, a genre-bending DJ and prolific producer, whose latest 12′′ was released last week on Dansu Discs.

Sunday from 1-6PM PDT, join us for our seventh Quaran-Tea! This week the SF Bay Area Queer Nightlife Fund joins forces with the legendary PLAY T-Dance. Since 2001, PLAY T-Dance has been giving folks in the Bay Area the occasion to flirt, frolic and dance to their favorite tea dance music. PLAY T-Dance has become renowned for its unique and engaging themes, abundant hospitality, unrivaled production value and the most uplifting and energetic music on the planet.

For now, stay safe and healthy, and SEE YOU ON THE VIRTUAL DANCEFLOOR!

Sincerely,

The SF Bay Area Queer Nightlife Fund

Marke B.
Marke Bieschke is the publisher and arts and culture editor of 48 Hills. He co-owns the Stud bar in SoMa. Reach him at marke (at) 48hills.org, follow @supermarke on Twitter.
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