Top drag stars, LGBTQ celebrities including Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Adam Lambert, and celebrity allies of the queer community converged on stage on Sunday Towing is not dangerousa telethon to raise money to fight anti-LGBTQ legislation.
As anti-drag and anti-trans laws multiply across the United States — such as Tennessee’s ban on public drag performances (which has been temporarily blocked by a judge) — the telethon raised more than $500,000 from 5,000 individual backers. According to the organizers, “All net proceeds from the event will be distributed to approved charities (GLAAD, GLSEN, Headcount, Black Queer Town Hall, The ACLU Drag Defense Fund, Trans Justice Funding Project, Victory Fund) that support LGBTQIA+ and artists in need. , especially in states where they face discrimination and prohibition.” The fundraiser, held through GoFundMe, will continue through Tuesday.
The four-plus-hour telethon included appearances by Hollywood allies – both live and pre-recorded – by Charlize Theron, Leslie Jones, Jesse Eisenberg, singer Joey McIntyre, Melissa McCarthy, Sarah Hyland and Idina Menzel.
Marcia Gay Harden appeared live, along with event co-host Adam Shankman (Director of Disillusioned And Hair spray) to discuss what drives her to support this cause.
“What drives me is because it’s right and what’s happening right now is wrong,” Harden said. “What drives me is: my children are all strange. My oldest child is non-binary. My son is gay. My youngest is runny. And you know, they are my children and they teach me every day.”
Speaking about the wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation, the Oscar-winning actress added, “This is so fear-based and it spreads that kind of fear and hatred among other people. I believe this country will fight that.”
Also on the telethon, Theron, who has a transgender daughter and is an outspoken supporter of LGBTQ rights, appeared with a group of friends in a pre-recorded segment in which she told the drag community, “We love you queens. We’re in your corner and we’ve got you, and I’ll fuck up anyone who tries to mess with you.”
And in a statement that seemed to reference gun violence, Theron added: “There are so many things that hurt and really kill our kids and we all know what I’m talking about now and it’s not a drag queen – because if you ever seen a drag queen lip sync for her life, it just makes you happier, it just makes you love more, it makes you a better person.”
The night was produced by Producer Entertainment Group, a management firm, record label and production company representing drag stars and other LGBTQ talent.
The night’s lineup included a who’s who of the dragocracy, from Jinkx Monsoon (who was scheduled to appear at the MTV Movie and TV Awards before the live broadcast was cancelled), Trixie Mattel and Ginger Minj to Candis Cayne, Laganja Estranja and Sherry Vine, many of them taking phone calls from donors during the telethon.
One call came from a teacher in Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis has pushed through the so-called “Don’t Say Gay Law.” “I make sure that all my children are loved,” the teacher said, “and I want everyone to know that we love you in Florida. We are here to protect all our children. Special love to all our trans children and trans families. We are grateful.”
Along with Shankman, the evening’s hosts were comedian Justin Martindale and drag stars Alaska and Peppermint. Menzel performed live from the Bourbon Room on Hollywood Boulevard with composer Tom Kitt in a group performance of the song “Light,” while Bob the Drag Queen performed live from the Troubadour in West Hollywood with the song “Bitch Like Me.”
The livestream included clips in which drag performers talked about how doing drag changed their lives and gave them a way of free expression and denounced anti-drag and anti-trans laws for demonizing them and, they claimed , fueling violence against the LGBTQ community.
Drag performer Nina West appeared on a segment where he spoke about the harassment he’s encountered, including a person with air horns showing up at his house while doing a drag queen story hour on Instagram; getting doxed and having his and his parents’ address posted online; someone who put a sign in his yard labeled “trimmer” and faced threats of violence during a drag Christmas tour last year.
“We had protesters outside every show,” West said of the tour. “We had bomb threats, bomb sniffing dogs and yes, we had to be driven out of a city with a police escort to keep from going off the road… We can’t sit back and relax. We cannot allow this to continue. We cannot be the punching bag for people who have no idea what our community is all about.”
There were also news clips detailing not only the latest wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation, but also politicians and right-wing media personalities denouncing queer people, such as commentator Michael Knowles who said at the CPAC conference earlier this year: “Transgenderism must be be completely eradicated from public life.”
The telethon opened with a (mostly serious) comedic bit in which drag performer Kelly Mantle surprised Ginger Minj by teleporting from a dystopian future in which the far right had succeeded in precisely those objectives.
“I just came back from the future. I just escaped and came back to make this PSA. … In the future there is no more dragging, they have banned it. They have banned it all. They banned duct tape. They banned drag. They have banned pride. … They rounded us all up and threw us into camps … And there is no one to organize bingo. There’s no one to host a drag brunch. There’s no one to save Broadway. There are no more splits, no more dips, no more hair clips, no more shablam,” Mantle said.
The telethon can be viewed at moment.co/dangerous. Additionally, Towing is not dangerous — whose supporters include Warner Music Group’s ADA Music, the ACLU, the Grammy Museum, Amazon’s Glamazon employee affinity group, UTA, and OUTtv — has released a charity single, also titled “Drag Isn’t Dangerous” and featuring Javelle and Ocean Kelly.
Actress, director and producer Elizabeth Banks also made pre-recorded remarks saying, “Anti-drag laws have been introduced in a dozen states and that’s along with nearly 375 anti-LGBTQ+ laws targeting queer people.”
“And make no mistake,” Banks continued. “These bills are not only undemocratic, they seek to take rights away from our fellow citizens, they are also dangerous. They create a culture of discrimination that puts transvestites, transgender people and others at a seriously increased risk of violence.”