The SF Bay Area Queer Nightlife Fund (QNF) was born during the pandemic as a charitable endeavor that financially supported out-of-work nightlife workers. Now more than eighteen months since it began raising funds, the nonprofit has awarded 511 single-installment grants to queer nightlife workers.
COVID-19 created a global health emergency and a widespread financial crisis, completely upending both healthcare systems and economies around the world. Here in the United States, unemployment rates were higher at some points than those observed during the Great Depression. People who worked in restaurants, bars, clubs, and other sectors of the hospitality industry were among the most affected by the pandemic; San Francisco was no exception to this trend.
QNF completed the distribution of our final round of grants totaling $83,290. This effectively completes the mission that QNF decided to undertake at the beginning of the pandemic. QNF has awarded 511 grants totaling $399,641 to queer nightlife workers. https://t.co/Jaun4EUjYs— SF Queer Nightlife Fund (@qnightlifefund) September 17, 2021
Well, QNF helped local queer nightlife works pay their bills; late rent payments; growing utility and cellphone debts; and other essential payments. Now many months later, the nonprofit has raised a staggering $399,641 for queer nightlife workers, donations used to fund 511 single-installment grants.
In a news release, QNF said the organization has also paid $8,849 to community members through multiple streaming events, offering paid gigs to over 80 DJs, event hosts, ASL interpreters, and other group facilitators; QNF was also able to extrapolate that same success for local in-person gigs later on, as well.
All those opportunities were greatly appreciated by nightlife workers.
"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 last year at the launch of the initiative, harping on those fisically hard times. "It's a time to reach out and help each other any way we can."
Per the Bay Area Reporter, funded grants through QNF were "from $2750, with $500 for dependents, and the [lowest amount given] being $300 for [applicants] with less financial need."
Members of QNF's Steering Committee — which is made up of local notables Shannon Amitin, Race Bannon, Angel Garfold, Phil Hammack, Juanita More, Mark O’Brien, and Joe Weidman — waxed they were incredibly proud of these fundraising efforts, and how the group was able to financially support workers through a roster of online events, community outreach programs, and fundraising drives.
"Our financial contributors are our heroes," the release continues. "QNF is so thankful for every person, organization, and company who has donated or otherwise worked to make QNF’s support for queer nightlife workers possible. Your donations made the difference between many queer nightlife workers surviving or not."
To continue following QNF's efforts, which will continue supporting Bay Area queer nightlife, visit sfqueernightlifefund.org.
Photo: Getty Images/JasonDoiy