Two days into San Francisco's shelter-in-place order, it’s as clear as ever that our nightlife community needs our help. Yesterday, a group of respected local LGTBQ figures rallied together to launch the city's Queer Nightlife Fund (QNF), which will offer monetary aid to that affected cohort.
The fate of San Francisco’s gay nightlife is in lukewarm limbo. And those who make their livings in our city’s homosexual-leaning nightclubs and bars are facing near-certain hardships ahead. Cue to the creation of the SF QNF: a philanthropic touchstone founded on the notion of helping those “scrambling” to get by in the community.
As of today 77 grant applications through our online grant application. Applicants have requested minimally $78,151 in relief. This is an average of $1014 in relief requested by each applicant. #emergencyrelief #givenow https://t.co/x6WbCFo2AD— SF Queer Nightlife Fund (@qnightlifefund) March 18, 2020
"Everyone [in the gay nightlife community] is scrambling to figure out how to make ends meet," said Juanita MORE!, a San Francisco drag icon and prominent nightlife figure, speaking to Hoodline. "It's a time to reach out and help each other any way we can."
The San Francisco Department of Public Health has, effectively, closed all “non-essential businesses” — excluding places like grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, and, yes, marijuana dispensaries — until at least April 7th as we all continue sheltering in place. However, bars and nightclubs, along with places that boast “[occupancies] over 100 people,” will shut down for even longer and aren’t expected to reopen until May 1st.
This unprecedented closing time has led Race Bannon, one of the fund’s “Steering Committee” members, to believe organized fundraisers and charity campaigns like QNF are need to guarantee the wellbeing of not only San Francisco’s queer nightlife scene, but others in the Bay Area as well.
"Queer nightlife is a renowned and integral aspect of San Francisco Bay Area culture," Bannon writes on the fund's website. "The people who produce and staff local queer nightlife have been financially devastated by the venue closures resulting from the coronavirus crisis.”
“The Bay Area is known worldwide as a center for amazing queer nightlife,” he adds. “Let's keep that nightlife alive by lending a helping hand to those who need our help in these trying times."
Right now, the SF QNF’s first milestone goal is to raise $140K, an amount that will then be spread out to 200 nightlife workers and entertainers in $700 payments. In a news update published today, QNF has said that they’ve already received 77 relief applicants.
"To ensure that the fund provides sufficient relief to affected individuals, we are limiting the initial application cohort (due March 31) to 200 awards," the fund's website reads. "Only lifeline expenses will be considered for a grant."
Those eligible to receive a grant from the fund include the following nightlife vocations and occupations, according to the fund’s “Applicant Eligibility”:
- Bartenders and servers at nightlife establishments
- Entertainers such as DJs, dancers, and drag artists
- Vendors or contractors primarily serving the nightlife industry
- Producers and organizers of nightlife events
- Production artists, lighting designers, and event photographers
Also, applicants can only use that financial assistance to pay for “life-line expenses,” such as:
- Electricity, gas, water, and other utilities
- Basic Telephone
- Internet Service
- Medical insurance
Those who wish to donate to the fund — which has already raised over $17,000 from 158 unique contributors and another $3,000 in support from “philanthropic or corporate donors” — can do so online in varying amounts.
“We need to support each other in a lot of ways right now, and a lot of my friends literally live day-to-day,” MORE! tells SFist in conversation on the importance of spearheading generosity during these times. “So to help [our nightlife workers and entertainers] out financially is going to be important, and they are going to need it again.”
“But also, please remember to check-in, because depression runs deep in our community.”
Band together, queer fam. We’re in this for the long haul — which… oh, is looking like until Pride rolls around.
Related: SF Bars With Capacity Over 100 Ordered to Close For Seven Weeks; Restaurants Told To Limit Capacity
How You Can Support San Francisco's Queer Elders and LGBTQ+ Nightlife Workers in the Age of Coronavirus
Image: Wikimedia Commons