In March 2020, Phil Hammack realized queer nightlife workers were going to be financially decimated by the pandemic lockdown in San Francisco. He quickly called a few friends to meet online to discuss what if anything could be done.
Approximately 48 hours later, the SF Bay Area Queer Nightlife Fund (QNF) was formed. The urgency of the need was clear. If Bay Area queer nightlife was to survive the pandemic, the economic insecurity of the unemployed who produce and staff our queer venues and events had to be addressed.
Over the course of its existence, QNF awarded 511 grants totaling $399,641 to struggling queer nightlife workers. QNF also paid $8,849 to community members through 31 streaming events during which we booked 87 DJs along with numerous hosts, ASL interpreters, and group facilitators, resulting in 112 streaming hours of content on Twitch (over 23,000 live views). QNF also facilitated the hiring of local queer DJs for well-paid local gigs.
QNF is proud of our fundraising efforts, the direct financial support we were able to give queer nightlife workers, and the many online events we hosted that kept the community connected and engaged when in-person gatherings were not possible.
We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. Our financial contributors are our heroes. QNF is thankful for every person, organization, and company who donated or otherwise worked to make QNF’s support for queer nightlife workers possible. Those donations made the difference between many queer nightlife workers surviving or not.
In September 2021, QNF announced that we were ending our fundraising and grants. We did what we had intended to do. We believe nonprofits who complete a mission should step aside to let valuable monies be used elsewhere.
However, due to some donations that arrived after our final grant distribution, we had $8,700 still in the bank. We have decided to distribute that final money between two nonprofit organizations, BAAITS and Oaklash. This brings the total amount of money awarded by QNF to $408,341.
BAAITS (Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits) is a community-based volunteer organization offering culturally relevant activities for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Native Americans, their families and friends. BAAITS exists to restore and recover the role of Two-Spirit people within the American Indian/First Nations community by creating a forum for the spiritual, cultural and artistic expression of Two-Spirit people.
Oaklash is dedicated to building new and ever-expanding stages to showcase and elevate Bay Area queer talent. Their programming aims to create safe and accessible environments that celebrate the queer community, especially queer and trans people of color. Oaklash hosts a weekend-long festival of drag and other queer performance that takes place annually in Oakland, California.
QNF has given each of these organizations $4,350. That will zeros out QNF’s financial coffers, and we’re happy those monies can go to these two nonprofit organizations both in keeping with our QNF mission, which was in part to decenter whiteness and elevate queer marginalized people and groups that can often use the help the most.
Onward. Long live San Francisco Bay Area queer nightlife!