While support of LGBT rights has been growing in recent years, there is still a lot to be accomplished. That’s exactly why the band fun. started The Ally Coalition with designer Rachel Antonoff. To kick off Pride Month, we spoke to fun. guitarist and straight ally Jack Antonoff (Rachel's brother!) about what’s up with TAC and what he's most proud of.
ACT: What was the inspiration behind The Ally Coalition?
JACK: We’d already been doing a lot of work raising awareness and money for LGBTQ rights and we started having conversations on how we could do more, give more efficiently, and just do a better job at what we had started out to do.
ACT: How can people get involved with The Ally Coalition?
JACK: There are many ways. What’s interesting about The Ally Coalition is we can work from a whole bunch of different angles. You can go online and fill out a TAC card. TAC cards say everything from “I believe love is love” to things as heavy as “I want my dad to be happy.” That’s a really inspiring thing, and you can share them on social media. That’s a really nice way to get awareness out there.
But it goes much deeper than that. Lately we’ve been partnering with a lot of GSAs [Gay-Straight Alliances] and gay youth homeless shelters to raise money to help the shelters. We’ve learned a lot of stuff on this journey, and it’s one thing we’re focused on now. It’s really incredible just how massive the problem is with LGBTQ homelessness because kids are being kicked out of their homes. So we’re raising money and raising awareness for these shelters. We want to create an umbrella that can really service anything that deals with LGBTQ issues, whether a specific fund for a specific thing or just spreading awareness. And what’s really cool is that every time a ticket is sold to one of our concerts, a dollar of that gets donated.
ACT: What do you have going on in your summer tour in terms of equality and fan engagement?
JACK: When you come in to all our shows, there’ll be this whole place where The Ally Coalition will have a big presence, where you can take pictures with the signs. Every time you take a picture and make a sign, we donate a dollar to one of these issues, like a shelter. We will have a local organization at each stop and a national organization, GLSEN, traveling with us also. There will be a place that people can go to get a lot of information, take action. There are going to be tablets set up where, depending on the state you’re in, it has all the information on what’s currently going on. Fans can really easily email their representatives and tell them what they feel about it. It’s creating an area where it’s really easy to take action and get information.
ACT: TAC is still a new organization. Do you have plans for things down the line you can share with us?
JACK: We’re trying to perfect our model of what we’re doing and how we’re speaking to our fans. One thing we’re learning is that it’s such an important issue and there’s so much to be angry about and so much to be upset about. It’s vital to get people’s attention and stay positive. We’ve worked really hard to get information to people in a way that doesn’t make them feel uncomfortable, doesn’t make them feel challenged. But once we get our model more straight, I think we’d love to bring other bands and other organizations in. That would be the future for TAC.
ACT: Since it's Pride Month, what do you tell a young person struggling with their own pride?
JACK: We tell young people at our shows (and it’s also sort of a motto for TAC), “Whether your government or state treats you as a second class citizen, we don’t.” We want fun. shows to be a place where those discriminatory laws don’t exist. We would tell young kids or all people, “While we’re still living in a time where there is discrimination, when you’re around us, when you’re in our environment, that doesn’t exist.” And that’s what we would hope for everyone to feel everywhere. And we’re getting closer and closer to that.
ACT: What are you most proud of?
JACK: I’m proud to just be part of the entire movement. The movement stretches into so many different areas, and I think what we’re doing is representing the straight alliance. We do exist, and there’s a lot of pride in that. I think it’s a vital part of the issue, and it’s a way to be directly effective. I feel proud to feel so strongly about something and have the resources to stand up for it.
ACT: Aside from the tour, you've also made quite a few people's summers already! What was it like performing at the Seaside Heights boardwalk when it reopened?
JACK: It was really cool. I grew up going down to Long Beach Island every summer, living there three months out of the year. So the Jersey Shore is a place that’s really dear to me and a big part of my life growing up. Sandy was really horrific. Being back there and seeing how they rebuilt it and how everything was up and running was extremely emotional. (End of interview)
The band's Coalition is continuing to grow, and has a lot going on for you to get involved with. You can zip over to the site by taking action below and help spread awareness on social media or learn more about issues like LGBT homelessness. If you’ve got tix to a fun. concert, not only have you already donated money to this great cause, but there will be more ways to take action when you arrive. Make the world a better place and listen to great music? Now that’s the very definition of fun.!
June is Pride Month on MTV Act! All month long, we're celebrating young, change-making, action-taking pioneers who are making outstanding strides to ensure LGBT discrimination is a thing of the past. It's 2013 — are you #proud? Whether you're out, questioning, an ally or just here to learn more, we all deserve the same respect, love and support. Let us know why you're #proud to support the LGBT community this June by taking action below.
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