West Hollywood May Designate an Official City ‘Drag Laureate’

Drag night at Hamburger Mary’s in West Hollywood

A Drag Laureate? So West Hollywood!

The City Council on Monday will be asked to consider authorizing the creation of that honorary position as a way to promote West Hollywood’s Boystown gay nightlife district. The proposal is being brought forward by Council members Lauren Meister and John Duran.

A memo to the Council says that “West Hollywood has been one of the centers of drag culture for decades. Drag performers are often the main attraction at restaurants and bars, star in arts and cultural events, or even lead storytelling and crafts at Drag Queen Story Hour (which takes place at West Hollywood Library.)

“A Drag Laureate program would create an honorary position of Drag Laureate for the city. The Drag Laureate would serve to highlight and promote the contributions of drag artists to West Hollywood by acting as an ambassador to businesses in the city, especially those in the city’s historic LGBT district.”

The “LGBT district” to which the memo refers is West Hollywood’s Boystown nightlife district, a concentration of gay bars and nightclubs on the west side of Santa Monica Boulevard without the “L,” “B,” and “T.” (The city’s only lesbian bar, The Palms, closed in 2013 after having been in business for over 40 years, https://www.wehoville.com/2013/05/06/palms-bar-sets-closing-date-lesbian-safe-haven-remembered-fondly/. and there are no bars or clubs that target a distinct bisexual or transgender clientele). The Boystown district has been in a slow decline in recent years, a decline exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen the recent closings of popular gay bars such as Rage, Gym Bar, and Flaming Saddles during COVID-19 pandemic.

The memo says the Drag Laureate would also “work to promote arts and culture in the city. If approved, staff will further develop the proposed scope of the program, guidelines, and selection criteria and return to City Council for further discussion and consideration. The selection of the Drag Laureate will be facilitated by a selection committee made up of stakeholders from the community and local businesses, including representatives from the local LGBT bars and restaurants.”

The memo notes that the idea of a Drag Laureate was originally included in San Francisco’s recently developed LGBTQ+ Cultural Heritage Strategy to preserve and promote LGBTQ+ cultural heritage in San Francisco.

West Hollywood has a popular drag culture, with places like Hamburger Mary’s, The Abbey, and Mickys hosting regular drag performances. The city has been home to major contestants on the very popular RuPaul’s Drag Race.

The city’s only other “laureate,” a term of honor bestowed upon someone for outstanding creative or intellectual achievement, is its poet laureate. That position, created in 2014, currently is occupied by Charles Flowers, whose term expires in October. https://www.wehoville.com/2020/05/13/nominations-are-being-accept-for-west-hollywoods-next-poet-laureate/

5 1 vote
Article Rating

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

27 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Vincent Campisi
Vincent Campisi
21 days ago

Lauren Meister and John Duran please concentrate on all the empty storefronts up and down Santa Monica Boulevard Sunset Boulevard and Melrose Ave to name a few.
Always remember and never forget you are working for the citizens of West Hollywood. If you don’t like it please step down. Thank you for listening.

Adam
Adam
24 days ago

I love this idea. With everything going on around us we need something like this to boost moral up again in the neighborhood. If we can give the key to the city to a porn star, why can’t we have Drag Laureate?

Last edited 24 days ago by Adam
Sammy Wammy
Sammy Wammy
24 days ago

there’s no gay weho life, all weho is is a place for rich people and stars, it’s strayed so far from it’s original intent it’s ridiculous. I grew up there and can tell you that weho was much more the weho it proported it wld be prior to it even being Incorporated. now it’s all about tourists and hotels. there will hardly he any bars left, this is a stupid lame late to the party idea. sorry charlie.

Robert Zabb
Robert Zabb
26 days ago

Unfortunately gay Weho has become a gay tourist destination rather than a hometown community. This is probably just another device for tourism promotion as the gay community finds greener pastures elsewhere.

Sammy Wammy
Sammy Wammy
24 days ago
Reply to  Robert Zabb

100 agree

enemyofthestate
enemyofthestate
26 days ago

West Hollywood, the unserious city.

Tom Smart
Tom Smart
28 days ago

Undertaker laureate maybe, for the sad decline and death of West Hollywood as we knew it.

Ham Shipey
Ham Shipey
28 days ago

this is why WH is not considered a serious city. WH is not a gay city….it’s a city with a diverse population….and the majority is not been served by such silly behavior.

voter
voter
25 days ago
Reply to  Ham Shipey

Thank you. I agree. The emphasis on gay in West Hollywood is a disservice to the diverse community.

Sammy Wammy
Sammy Wammy
24 days ago
Reply to  voter

it was gay once a long time ago before it sold itself to developers

hifi5000
hifi5000
28 days ago

Gee, let’s all calm down.This idea sounds fun and should bring some fun attention to the city.This position is honorary and will not be a paid position. The person selcted will not be a city employee.

The effort is good,however,I believe like some on this comment section,that a huge effort needs to be made to get all the businesses in the city back up and running,than afterwards we can think about who the drag laureate should be.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
26 days ago
Reply to  hifi5000

I agree. This could be fun and give us reason to celebrate our unique community. But I also think this well intended idea is a bit tone deaf given the tenor of the times when so many residents may become COVID refugees. As far as West Hollywood being taken seriously, we are way past that.

WeHo Mike
WeHo Mike
28 days ago

I actually like this idea. It’s creative and because its so unique it will draw attention to our City. And as for Drag Queen Story Hour, I see that since the library is closed, the city moved posted some online versions: https://youtu.be/NDpQbrVzZs0

Long Time Resident
Long Time Resident
28 days ago

Seriously? Can the City be more ridiculous? Don’t waste time on such drivel. Why doesn’t the City Council take the time to consider ways to bring more businesses to the City (gay or not)!

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
28 days ago

When I read this I see it as two councilmembers who are focusing on a way to promote the local economy. It seems very business supportive to me. I applaud Meister and Duran for thinking local. I state my informed decision based on actually reading the article and the underlying staff report, not just reading the headline. Separately, it’s hard to decipher what point WEHOville is attempting to make in dissecting the letters based on which ones are or are not “targeted” by any particular establishment. Target is a very poor word choice and does a disservice to the reality… Read more »

Randy
Randy
24 days ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

Thank you, Alan. I also find this article to infer that West Hollywood is not open to LBT people, because of an unofficial designation of that area being “Historic Boystown”. Our city government has done much for everyone outside of the male gay community, including disabled people, women, seniors, the trans community, the Russian population, etc. I think this is a jaded idea that we don’t accept other people. At this stage, how do bars market themselves as catering to any one specific community, rather than trying to be all-inclusive? Regardless of the timing, what is the harm in doing… Read more »

Larry Block
Larry Block
28 days ago

Nice idea , bad timing. The bars are mostly closed and maybe an idea to help these business survive is more pressing

Jay
Jay
24 days ago
Reply to  Larry Block

Straight talk like that (no pun intended!) is why you have my vote Larry!

Randy
Randy
24 days ago
Reply to  Larry Block

Or, maybe we can do both things at once? You are acting like nothing is being done about the bars surviving. You noted that they started allowing space to be used on the sidewalk, just two or three doors up from your own store. I see no harm in them voting on this, it’s not going to take a lot of time, and it might actually cheer a few people up. Even if the person who assumes this position can only appear virtual for the next year or so.

27
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x