It feels like the passage of time has changed during this era of shelter in place. As we write this, it’s been almost eight weeks since the steering committee of the SF Bay Area Queer Nightlife Fund began to organize. But as each day at home flows into the next, it’s easy to lose track of time. And while most of us are hunkering down at home, the clock keeps ticking. We all still need to buy food and eat, pay rent, and pay bills. Nightlife is still on hiatus, so queer nightlife workers are still unable to earn their regular income even though their bills continue to come due.
The pandemic continues, and so our mission and charge remain just as relevant as ever. That’s why we are continuing to raise funds and opening a second round of grant applications. Those who received grants in the first round are eligible and encouraged to apply again if they are still in need.
As we prepared to launch our second round of grant applications, the QNF Steering Committee revisited our eligibility criteria. In our first round, about 32% of applicants did not meet our grant criteria. Many of these applicants were disqualified because they did not work specifically in queer nightlife.
There are so many people right now whose finances have been disrupted, and certainly a server at Zuni could be just as much in need of assistance as a bartender at the Eagle. Shouldn’t we be helping all of these people?
Answering this required us to revisit our mission, and the drive which led us to organize the fund in the first place. Even before COVID-19, queer nightlife in the San Francisco Bay Area has been struggling. For every new queer venue that opens, it seems there are a dozen or more that are closing down. The artists, technicians, and other folks who work to make the party happen are getting squeezed out. Our fear is that the pandemic, and the resultant loss of work, will make it impossible for many of these people to stay here.
We want to help keep queer nightlife vibrant here, and for that reason we are focused specifically on those who make the magic of queer events or work in queer-centered venues. In this second round, our criteria remains that eligible recipients are those for whom a significant portion of their income prior to COVID-19 came from queer nightlife venues or events, rather than nightlife in general.
Our fundraising appeals have centered on the desire to protect queer nightlife and the people who make it happen, and that message has resonated with our generous donors. We are continuing to pursue this mission with our next campaign.
There is no question that there are many among us who are also in need and do not meet the specific eligibility requirements for the fund. We maintain a list of other resources that may be of assistance, and we hope they are able to find the support they need.
The steering committee of the SF QNF are eternally grateful to those who have donated and supported our mission, and we look forward to disbursing our next round of grants, which will continue to help nightlife workers in need as the crisis continues.