Name:
Dragonsani “Drago” Renteria
Dates:
b. 1967
Primary Resource:
Drago | Deaf Queer Resource Center 

Poster Location: 

Market/Beale




Drago Renteria, known to many as “The Father of Deaf Queer Activism,” lives and breathes Deaf LGBTQ, LGBTQ, and trans activism. He has devoted much of his life to it.

He has lived in the Bay Area since 1989 and graduated from UC Berkeley. He was one of the very first Deaf people to openly transition in the country back in 1999, a different world for that kind of bold self-affirming change.

He resides in the Mission and is heavily involved with the Latinx community there. He has participated in innumerable anti-gentrification, anti-police brutality, and housing rights protests.

Drago has been involved with many different groups over the years, including the Transgender Law Center, the Youth Gender Project, and FTM International. He has presented and educated on trans issues nationwide for over two decades, the majority of those years with his amazing partner, Jennifer Mantle.

He published a magazine for Deaf Queers from his Castro apartment back in the 90s called CTN Magazine. It was the first national magazine for the Deaf queer community.

Drago ran the Deaf Gay & Lesbian Center in SF from 1992–1995, though it no longer exists today. It was the first of its kind in the country. Their first office was in the Tenderloin.

Drago founded the Deaf Queer Resource Center in 1995, which he still runs today. He has also run a small Internet company called DeafVision since 1997, which came about when he was teaching himself HTML to build the Deaf Queer Resource Center’s website.

DeafVision also helped many LGBTQ and especially Deaf LGBTQ organizations get online when the Internet was starting to take off—most of their clients are still LGBTQ or Deaf organizations. Drago also created many of the first Deaf-related websites in those early .com days,  such as websites for Deaf Women, Deaf Leather, and Deaf Latinx communities. 

Drago has run the National Deaf LGBTQ Archives since 1994 out of his home. He was involved with Queer Nation back in the 90s (at least as much as he could be without ASL access); lack of ASL access is a major and ongoing issue for Deaf folks.

He began a list of names of Deaf people lost to AIDS/HIV-related complications in 1989, and continues to update it once a year on World AIDS Day—you can access it at https://deafaids.info.

Drago is a photojournalist and documentary photographer, with certificates from CCSF in Reportage Photography and Portrait Studio Lighting. He has photographed for El Tecolote—a Mission-based bilingual publication—for a number of years, documenting the rapid changes happening in the Mission. Eventually he hopes to publish a book about how gentrification impacts communities of color.

Drago’s sidekick is Magnus, a 12-year-old Schnoodle hearing dog. He knows over 1,000 ASL signs and the names of over 500 toys in sign and voice. Together they occasionally do shows for kids. As Drago put it, “for disabled folks, our service dogs are everything.”

The 41 List did a short video biography of Drago in 2015:




Images*


*Images from DeafQueer.org, Drago, and various sources.


Additional Resources

1) Deaf Queer Resource Center 🏳️‍🌈 on Instagram—The new DeafQueer.org site is in the works, so turn to their Instagram account in the meantime for regular events, webinars, and other educational resources.

2) Dragomedia on FB—Original photography by Drago; great coverage of the Mission neighborhood.
3) Drago on PlanetDeafQueer—Lots of original written pieces by Drago, great to explore his point of view.

4) Magnus the Schnoodle—The official Instagram account for Drago’s schnoodle, Magnus.



A project of the San Francisco Arts Sommission’s Art on Market Street kiosk poster series,
funded by the San Francisco Arts Commission and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

www.sfartscommission.org.