This Thursday April 23rd at 8pm ET/5pm PT Michelle Visage and Tyler Oakley will host a star-studded livestream concert, The Stonewall Inn Gives Back, to raise funds for LGBTQ nightlife workers in need during the COVID-19 crisis.
The live online event will stream on World of Wonder’s YouTube channel WOW Presents and is set to feature performances or appearances by Alan Cumming, Allie X, Betty Who, Carlie Hanson, Cyndi Lauper, Darren Hayes, Dave Mizzoni, Greyson Chance, Issac Dunbar, John Cameron Mitchell, Kim Petras, Kristin Chenoweth, Leland, Lorna Luft, Matt Rogers, MUNA, Nina West, Our Lady J, Pabllo Vittar, Peppermint, Rufus Wainwright, Shoshana Bean, Todrick Hall and Troye Sivan.
Allie X, who released her latest album Cape God in February, told The Queer Review: “This is such an important cause. The queer nightlife community has been severely affected by Covid 19 and performers, bar tenders, promoters and many more need help right now. This initiative will provide immediate relief. I’m honored to be a part of it.”
“I owe so much of my sanity to the refuge provided to me by queer venues during my formative years,” Darren Hayes told The Queer Review. “As someone who struggled to come to terms with my sexuality, I have such fond memories of the bars, clubs and service staff who were the backdrop of my coming out. Now those people are struggling financially, I’m proud to sing for them.” Hayes continues, “So many of my friends are artists who also work in the service industry which has been decimated by the closures associated with Covid-19. This is a moment for queer artists to give back.”
The Queer Review also spoke to Dave Mizzoni, creator and co-host of Gayme Show who will be appearing on the livestream fundraiser. He told us: “I’m very thankful to be able to contribute to the Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative. I am a proud New York City resident who’s well aware of how many places in our country lack legislation that adequately protects LGBT workers. Queer people add immeasurable value to so many vital industries and it is my hope that together we can empower those feeling powerless through this tough time. Together we will do what queer people do best— persevere! Also they put me on the poster next to Cyndi-freakin-Lauper so yeah I’m forever indebted to this fabulous organization.”
“I think this pandemic has made it even more clear just how vulnerable some of our communities actually are,” says executive producer Erich Bergen. “We are coming together to respond to this crisis in a collaborative way, through music, which is the great unifier.”
Co-Producer and Golden Globe nominated songwriter and producer Brett McLaughlin adds, “So many careers are built and sustained by the support of the LGBT nightlife community. It’s our turn and duty to support them during this time of need. I’m so grateful that many of my friends jumped at the chance to give back when asked. This is going to be an incredibly special evening.”
The Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative (SIGBI) is a non-profit charitable organization “inspired by the struggles and ideals of the LGBTQ rights movement born from the Stonewall Inn Uprising of 1969.”
United States residents who have worked in LGBTQ nightlife for at least 12 months, as their main source of income, are eligible to apply for a grant from The Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initative. Grant recipients will be chosen based on need by a legal grant committee consisting of SIGBI board members and legal advisors. You can apply for a grant or donate here.
“The Stonewall Inn in New York City has, for decades, served as a beacon of hope in the LGBTQ+ community,” said World of Wonder co-founders Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey. “World of Wonder similarly strives to build opportunities and access for the community, while standing beside them and The Stonewall Inn in the struggle for equality. In that same spirit, we are thrilled to partner for this one-night-only concert to offer help and support to the LGBTQ+ community during this difficult time.”
While the effects of COVID-19 are felt globally, The Stonewall Inn and World of Wonder recognize the increased hardships the virus presents to the LGBTQ+ community. As an often-marginalized group, the community is more likely to feel isolated during this crisis and have less access to resources.
“In general, LGBTQ bars and nightlife have been decimated due to the mass closures during the Covid-19 pandemic,” says Stacy Lentz, CEO of The Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative. “These are the original safe spaces for our community, which often makes us feel less alienated and alone. They are a true refuge where we can be ourselves. This industry is now gone and employees of those bars, venues and event spaces are struggling. They rely on tips and gig work and are no longer able to make ends meet. We need this moment to come together as one and help those who keep the LBGTQ nightlife industry thriving.”
By James Kleinmann