‘Something Like a Livestream’ virtual fundraiser helps trans community impacted by the pandemic

By Lauren Leazenby, News Editor

Comedy Majors Eryn Burnett (left) and Nathan Hatfield (right) host a fundraiser livestream to raise money and support for Brave Space Alliance’s Trans Relief Fund. Courtesy/Eryn Burnett

While working together on the podcast “Something Like a Brother,” senior comedy writing and performance majors Eryn Burnett and Nathan Hatfield found the transgender community has been especially affected by the coronavirus pandemic. So, in a time when gathering is not safe, the pair decided to host a fundraiser livestream to bring people together virtually.

Friday, June 26, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., Burnett and Hatfield will host the “Something Like a Livestream” fundraiser on Twitch, with all money raised donated to Brave Space Alliance’s Trans Relief Fund, which provides coronavirus, or COVID-19, economic relief payments to trans, non-binary and intersex individuals in need. Burnett and Hatfield will match the first $200 in donations.

Brave Space Alliance is the first black- and trans-led LGBTQ+ organization serving the South and West Sides of Chicago, said LaSaia Wade, the founder and executive director of Brave Space Alliance. The organization advocates for health, wellness and visibility of the trans community.

The Trans Relief Fund is a collaboration between Brave Space Alliance and the Trans Liberation Collective, a trans-led coalition of Chicago-based organizations. The fund will provide support in payments of $100 to $200 for trans, non-binary and intersex individuals under financial strain because of the pandemic, Wade said.

“A lot of young people right now are trying to figure out how they can help out with COVID-19 and [protests],” Burnett said. “Some people can’t go out and protest, so we thought that having a livestream would be a good way for people to get involved.”

Twitch is a livestream platform often used to stream video games. Burnett said he wants the livestream to interest as many people as possible and will do so by cycling through various video games over the course of the five-hour stream.

Hatfield said they will include Nintendo Switch games like “Animal Crossing: New Horizons.” In their test stream, they played computer games including childhood favorites like “Poptropica” and several titles from coolmathgames.com.

Burnett said they will also play Jackbox games—party games where remote players can join via their smartphones—to encourage audience participation.

“We wanted to do something that was a little more fun and entertaining to people who are willing to donate,” Burnett said.

The livestream’s title was inspired by the podcast Burnett and Hatfield host together, “Something Like a Brother.” The podcast is “about us being trans,” Burnett said, and usually includes discussion about topics within the trans community like gender expression and high murder rates among Black trans individuals.

Hatfield said he and Burnett started the podcast in March to talk about their personal experiences being trans and in the Columbia comedy program. In his research, Hatfield said he came across Brave Space Alliance and the work the organization is doing for the trans community on the South and West Sides.

“[Brave Space Alliance] stands for a lot of the things we stand for,” Burnett said.

Burnett said he and Hatfield are working directly with Brave Space Alliance to ensure the fundraiser provides what the organization needs to support the Trans Relief Fund.

“I think it’s important for people to start uplifting individuals,” Wade said. “In this particular climate as well, if you see a trans person asking for any sort of help, actually [believe] them.”

With the Twitch stream, Hatfield said they hope to raise money while spreading the word about the organization’s cause.

“I really hope we can help Brave Space [Alliance] get a little more notice,” Hatfield said. “Helping them is really what I want out of this.”

View the fundraiser livestream here.