Durham, NC - Joel McHale, well-known comedian and actor of shows like “Community” and “The Soup” donated proceeds from his recent show at the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) to the LGBTQ Center of Durham (Center). The Center is united with our community and partners in standing against House Bill 2 (HB2), and the profoundly negative impact it will have on individuals, families, employees, and businesses within our State. As a community and a Center, we are humbled by and very grateful for the gesture by Joel, to stand with us, in solidarity, and to support our community.
There is a saying in show business: “any press is good press.” But, we are hopeful that the members of the NC General Assembly now understand the full measure of that cliché in light of the backlash our Old North State has received since the passing of House Bill 2 (HB2). If there is any silver lining from the passing of this awful bill, it is the outpouring of support from those in show business and other commercial contexts, who are taking a stand and making their voices heard.
Friday April 8th, after Bruce Springsteen cancelled an upcoming concert scheduled for Sunday, April 10 in Greensboro, comedian Joel McHale decided to follow through with his performance. According to reports, McHale considered canceling his show but decided he would make a statement instead. He did just that after he went on stage at the DPAC in an quickly crafted tee shirt decorated with scraps of duct tape forming “LGBTQ” on the front (don’t worry, we’ve sent him some official Center swag in appreciation for his donation). Since then, we have seen a bevy of other businesses and performers making statements about, cancelling performances, or taking their business to other states as a result of the marginalizing and discriminatory language and intent of HB2.
Instead of cancelling his show, Joel took the opportunity to engage his audience about the issue, and then sought out a local organization where he could make a direct impact here in Durham. He donated to our LGBTQ Center of Durham, an organization committed to supporting and nurturing the community most directly targeted by HB2. We could not be more grateful for his consideration of our community and our Center, for his show of support. This gift will enable us to continue to provide programming and support for the LGBTQ community in Durham and Orange counties.
The Center officially opened its doors on October 7, 2015, which seemed long overdue for a city known as a historically progressive one, and one that takes pride in its welcoming and diverse citizenry. But, perhaps we opened our doors just in time - on the heels of marriage equality come these so-called religious freedom bills, and now HB2. The Center currently exists as a hub for existing resources and individuals, to support members of our community in the face of these struggles, and the struggles of our daily lives, past and present. The Center is eager to continue its collaborations, and initiating new programs to fill in the gaps where services and resources are not readily available, especially to people of color, transgender people, and youth in our area.
The Center is unlike many others – if you have visited us at 114 Hunt Street (27701), attended one of our events, or been a volunteer, you know that to be true. We are leading with intentionality and inclusion. We are leading by listening first and acting second. We are leading by giving voices to those whose voices are often unheard. We are leading because our community needs us.
The Center clearly takes a stand against HB2 and will work with other statewide and local organizations to educate our citizens and help to repeal it. Gifts like the one from McHale are certainly impactful for a Center our size, yet our mission is even bigger than that one gift. With your help – in the form of $5, $10, $25, $50, $500 gifts – we can elevate our presence. These community-supported donations will allow us to continue to build and grow our programming, while staying focused on the immediate and most pressing needs of our community.
We thank Joel McHale for seeking us, for finding us, and for being a genuine human being with a giving spirit. Please join him and the Center by making your financial or volunteer contribution at www.lgbtqcenterofdurham.org/support-the-center.html.