the creative director behind Veteran Artists..
When I left military prison and returned to the Bay Area I wasn't sure how to reintegrate and where to find community. I had been the first public military resister to the Iraq War, had developed some agoraphobia from being in the brig, and my time was just about enough to recuperate from the media frenzy I had survived. When Iraq Veterans Against the War formed later that year, I became an honorary founding member (I missed the Veterans For Peace convention because I was keynote speaker at a socialist conference in Toronto) and found the fellowship and purpose that I never felt before as a Marine.
As San Francisco IVAW chapter president I, along with VP Eddie Falcon, organized a steady schedule of meetings, events, and actions for Bay Area membership. As San Franciscans, we were drawn towards innovative and unique methods of resistance. Our creative approach in response to the Bush and Obama administrations led to several activities that would eventually become the basis for Veteran Artists.
Veteran Artists officially became a thing during San Francisco's Operation First Casualty: Black Friday where we coordinated an invasion of Union Square/"Iraq" on the busiest shopping day of the year. We coordinated our efforts with several social justice groups to create a detailed, choreographed, and immersive theatrical street action. VA's first major fundraiser Make Drag, Not War! raised half of the money needed for the Israel/Palestine delegation Dialogues Against Militarism and the resulting documentary Occupation Has No Future. Originally planned as a one-off Make Drag, Not War! ran for four years at Dance Mission Theater, was filmed for Canal+ and retweeted by RuPaul, and received an encore presentation at the deYoung Museum and in NYC at Judson Memorial Church.
At its heart, my work at Veteran Artists has been the result of the bridging of various communities I belong to: veterans, performance artists, social activists, and creative queers. I have treasured the opportunity to lift up, examine, and present the experiences of people in these communities and find common ground to build unlikely alliances. Through this work I have found the community connection I longed for, and a platform for alternative and often overlooked voices to be heard.
With complete gratitude,
Stephen Eagle Funk
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Can we design freedom?
Stanford University BA International Relations
Harvey Milk Democratic Club In His Footsteps Award
Vanguard Foundation Youth Leadership Award
Out Magazine OUT100
Tessie Paredes Civil Rights Award
Colin Higgins Foundation Courage Award