Some days are bad, some days are good, and some days are awe-inspiring, insanely awesome days that you’ll treasure forever. This is one of those days. It just happens to be both Jack and Rachel Antonoff’s favorite day of the year. The Ally Coalition’s 3rd annual talent show took place last Monday night. School talent shows usually have some talent, but these shows are packed with the most talented artists, musicians, and comedians! And major plus — it’s all for a good cause.
The Ally Coalition was started by members of the band fun. (Nate Ruess, Jack Antonoff, and Andrew Dost) and fashion designer Rachel Antonoff. TAC works with peers in the music, fashion, and entertainment worlds to raise awareness and funds in support of LGBTQ equality. This year’s talent show helped benefit New Alternatives’ work to support the homeless LGBTQ youth in New York City. In the United States, of the estimated 1.7 Million homeless youth, up to 40% identify as LGBTQ. The talent show raised over $100k!
Since the election, calls to LGBTQ helplines have spiked, which means we all have to help bring good into the world and stand up as an ally.
Being an ally does not mean you have to be straight. The LGBTQ community can also be allies to each other. We all stand together. The Ally Coalition brings everyone together, informs the uninformed, brings awareness to important facts, and makes spaces safe.
Andrew Dost spoke with me about the organization’s importance:
Dost continues, “Whatever role The Ally Coalition can play in that is great, but just as a human, it’s now important more than ever to be nice and to not hurt anyone… Whatever side you’re on. To be inclusive and to be passionate is very crucial right now.”
The talent show this year featured Jack’s band Bleachers, Andrew Dost, Jacqueline Novak, Charli XCX, Lauren Mayberry of CHVRCHES, Carly Rae Jepsen, Hasan Minhaj and Lena Dunham! And it was hosted by Jordan Carlos!
There were numerous highlights. Andrew gave a beautiful solo performance on piano. Carly and Charli played acoustic versions of their hits, including one of my favorite Charli songs, “Need Ur Luv.” Jack joined Carly on stage to perform the Bleachers’ song “Shadow.”.Jordan, Jacqueline, and Hasan made the crowd roar with laughter.
Lena performed a healing ritual and tried to help the audience bring the good energy back into our lives. Lauren changed it up and performed two awesome covers of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” and Katy Perry’s “Firework.”
Every single talent show act had the biggest smiles on their faces.
Towards the end, Jack called Ella to the stage. There were a few claps from the audience, but then an eruption of applause when they realized “Ella” was actually Lorde.
Before performing, Lorde sat down on the piano bench and talked about how they’ve been recording together:
“The reason I’m here, for one, is that I would’ve felt sensationally left out if I didn’t come because all my friends are here. The other thing is that this is such a wonderful charity and the work that Jack does — it’s incredible. But the other thing is that I’ve had such an incredible experience getting to know this guy. I cannot tell you what a precious human being Jack Antonoff is. My life is better because of this person and I can’t wait for you to hear what we’re making.”
They then performed a stripped down cover of Robyn’s “Hang With Me.” I’m pretty sure everyone in the room got the feels. (Jack, Lorde — if you’re reading this, please record that song for us.)
Jordan Carlos joked around, telling me a pretend convo he and Lorde had before she hit the stage, “I was like, Do whatever your body tells you. I would never tell you what to do or how to feel, but I think the people deserve this.” Even if he didn’t tell her that — boy, he was right. We deserved it.
The amount of love in the room — emanating from every performer and attendee — could have burst the Grinch’s heart. Lindsey Byrnes, who photographed the event (and is also just an amazing/badass human being) said:
She continued, “It is not enough to just throw money at the problem. Although raising over 100k in one night is fucking AWESOME, don’t you think? History shows that it is not until the majority starts to speak up for the minority’s rights that things start to change. Education is key. These Ally Coalition events have a huge impact — not just with the money they raise, but also with the hearts they touch.”
They ended the talent show with every performer coming on stage and singing Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” together — an epic tradition of all Ally Coalition talent shows.
When I asked how they thought the night went, Jordan responded:
“When I come to New York and I’m allowed to tell my jokes, and I can be free and connect to the audience, it just reminds me there is a place for me. And I’m like, you are welcome here. And that’s the most important message I got from tonight… It runs counter to the forces that have been unleashed these days.”
He continued, “Aggression will not stand. That’s what it means to be an ally. Just don’t let it happen. Speak up. Act up. Pull that emergency break on the subway (Don’t actually do that).”
Andrew added, “I think the night went really well. It’s nice to be around people who share a common take on the world. Create good energy. A safe place. This is what America actually is. And it’s important to remember that because… times are pretty dark, but it doesn’t mean everything is dark. There are still bright spots. There are still a lot of good things in the world.”
Lindsey spoke of how TAC can help us direct our energy in a positive direction, saying, “I can’t decide where my tax money goes exactly all the time, but I can decide where to donate my time and my tax-deductible donations and I am proud to say this is one of my choices.”
I’m so happy The Ally Coalition exists because of the good they bring into the world and the safe places they help create. Be that force to allow things like this to happen.