The Denver LGBTQ community has undergone a number of recent tragedies, and local performer Jessica L’Whor is taking the initiative to help those in need with bi-monthly We Are Family benefit shows.
“Right now, there is no consistent way for us to support our community,” L’Whor said. “The whole idea for this show is to raise money both for specific individuals and for a general fund. If there isn’t anyone immediately in need, the donations go toward a fund that people can apply for, and we’ll be able to start administering these grants.”
Unfortunately, at the moment, there are a number of people in great need of help from our community.
In early May, Amber Nicole—a local trans woman—was the victim of an assault that resulted in partial paralyzation of her face. Just a few weeks ago, OUT FRONT’s Best Drag King of 2018, Dustin Schlong, announced that he was officially diagnosed with Stage One ovarian cancer after undergoing emergency surgery. He now has multiple surgeries under his belt and radiation therapy looking forward.
Resorting to crowdfunding during financial distress is a recent, alarming trend that many people are forced to partake in. A striking number of people in their 20s and 30s have no safety nets in place due to an increase in economic struggles. Many have no savings for emergencies and have to reach out for assistance, sometimes to absolutely no avail.
Relief programs for people with financial emergencies are extremely selective, and L’Whor wants the We Are Family fund to be more accessible.
“It shouldn’t matter who you are—your identity, your appearance, your personality, whether or not I like you or you like me, none of that is the point,” L’Whor said.
“Regardless of any of that, everyone goes through hard times, and helping others has nothing to do with our interpersonal relationships. As a community, we should be asking how we can help others who are struggling. It shouldn’t matter whether the benefit is for someone specific or for the general fund—we should be coming together and supporting one another for our own humanity.”
It’s no secret that the LGBTQ community holds strong opinions, but L’Whor wants people to look past their personal opinions to see others’ struggles and traumas objectively.
“I need people to see that this isn’t a Jessica L’Whor thing—there’s a bigger picture. If you have a personal problem with me, that’s fine, but if you’re not coming to support the community because you have an issue with me, you should get your head out of your *ss. It’s not about you. It’s not about me. It’s about people in need being able to reach out for help and actually receive it.”
The We Are Family benefit shows takes place every second and fourth Monday of the month at Mile High Hamburger Mary’s at 9:30 p.m. Every show is an open casting call, and you don’t have to be a drag artist to participate—musicians, spoken-word artists, comedians, and other performers are encouraged to attend and sign up to perform at the door.
Photo taken at Gladys by Stu Osborne