Creators behind fundraising projects to support OutRight continuously introduce us to communities that we did not even know had an interest in international LGBTIQ human rights. Examples would be the mother and son duo from Belgium who made unicorns or members of the tabletop gaming world that made pins. There’s also A Dog On A Quest, the creators behind the LGBTIQ furry flags inspired by members who are part of both the LGBTIQ and the furry communities. These fundraisers continue to open my eyes to how diverse the LGBTIQ community is, and how we aren’t – and shouldn’t be – solely defined by our gender identity or sexual orientation. [ Check out their fabulous non-binary Pride gear here ]
We’re fundraising for @OutRightIntl this year! Proceeds from our merch will be donated to this amazing charity who fights for human rights on behalf of LGBTQA+ around the world!
Here’s our Etsy store https://t.co/bbS7TUuVYl pic.twitter.com/6Ec0HxETM8
— PrideSOS (@wearequeersos) May 21, 2019
OutRight: Tell us more about you and starting #PrideSOS?
Jazz: I’m Jazz, she/her/hers, I’m 23 from the United Kingdom. I currently identify as demisexual and questioning. Over the years as a fan of the band 5 Seconds of Summer (5SOS), I’ve seen how the community has grown. Many fans were out and proud online, but when logged off, they were in the closet or a homophobic area. The band has encouraged fans to embrace who they are. Being online and on a fan account is like a real “Hannah Montana” scenario, but there’s no best of both worlds. In this community, they can be their true selves.
Before Pride last year, I was reading tweets from a friend who was talking about how she was out and proud online in the fandom, but was living with homophobic parents. Her reality was different than how she presented online. Another friend of mine was struggling with their identity, but came alive when they saw the band in concert. I realized how many fans were in similar situations, and that this online community was an escape. I started a Twitter account which was intended to produce content for LGBTIQ fans, but as it gained more interest, demand grew for a project.
Fan projects are a trend which have emerged in recent years, where audiences participate in a project of sorts such as perhaps all holding up signs during a particular song. We organized one or two, thinking that would be it, but the drummer of 5SOS saw us organizing and was enthusiastic about it. Their lead guitarist tweeted out #PrideSOS which got global attention. In less than a month, fans all around the world wanted to host projects! The projects were a celebration for LGBTIQ fans; a way of giving them a place of acceptance in a safe space like concerts.
Now that the tour is over, we’re fundraising for [OutRight] and making meetups for fans to attend their own pride events. It’s hard for some people to attend pride events, so this is an alternative where fans can get together with online friends, make new ones, and bond over the community and as fans of the band. We’re also planning a possible tour project for their next headline tour.
OutRight: What motivated you to fundraise for OutRight and be proactive in supporting international LGBTIQ human rights?
Jazz: Last year, we did a huge fundraiser for tons of charities around the world. It was stressful to cut the funds between so many. We wanted to do fundraisers that benefited people around the world since we’re a global project, and didn’t want to focus purely on the US or UK. Lots of charities we supported were peer support or hotlines so we wanted to do something different.
It hit all of us hard when we heard about the law in Brunei. We wanted to do something. Even the band shared the ‘Boycott Brunei’ posts, so we knew they would love it. It made us think about how many countries have these issues and how many LGBTIQ people have their human rights compromised.
OutRight: Why did you choose the name #PrideSOS for a LGBTIQ fan group of ‘5 Seconds of Summer’?
Jazz: PrideSOS fit naturally because the band’s acronym is 5SOS and [the fans] and the band tend to put ‘SOS’ after things. Fans call dogs of band members “DogSOS”, or there may be groupchats with ‘SOS’ in it. Since we’re all about Pride, it fit like a glove!
OutRight: #PRIDESOS has 28 different Twitter handles (yes I counted). Is there a hierarchy, or is it more of an independant collective?
Jazz: We actually have over 50! When the band noticed the project, Michael tweeted out the hashtag #PrideSOS and followed us, and people wanted to get on board. We had a fan project for every show on their 53 tour dates to make it easier for fans to recruit and promote, rather than me handling them all. Many participants loved the concept and are now hosting meetups and doing smaller fundraisers.
The main account is @WeAreQueerSOS, where we share news about upcoming projects and ideas, promote merchandise and contests, giveaways, or similar events we want to host. We also share important issues within the community, so while scrolling your timeline you see “Hey! This is something the community is celebrating or is happening now that’s worth your attention.” We count on fans for call-to-actions such as petitions, too.
OutRight: Do you have suggestions on how OutRight can better support people who want to create similar campaigns? Or create collaboration opportunities?
Jazz: Fans and fandoms are super powerful. When they want to do a project, there’s no stopping them. Lots of fandoms are advocates and allies of the LGBTIQ community, and if they had the opportunity to do something, they’d jump at the chance. Not only are fan projects enjoyable and memorable, ones like this focus on a cause close to their hearts.
It would be super cool for OutRight to reach out to fans of queer artists asking if they wanted to partner, perhaps do a guide on fan projects suggesting they support a cause. I’m sure the rest of the participants of our projects would be interested in helping with that.
Published on June 19, 2019 | OutRight Action International an LGBT human rights organization