Aziz Ansari hosting comedy benefit for Anoka-Hennepin LGBT group
After reading a Rolling Stone article about the gay-bullying problem and suicides in the Anoka-Hennepin school district, comedian Aziz Ansari was inspired to action. He contacted the reporter, Philadelphia-based Sabrina Rubin Erdely, to find out if there is an LGBT charity that would directly benefit the students of Anoka-Hennepin. Erdely suggested Justin's Gift.
Tammy Aaberg, the president and founder of Justin's Gift, named the non-profit after her son, a former district student who committed suicide in 2010. She was ecstatic at news of the Ansari event in Los Angeles.
"We're really, really hoping we can get more things started," she says. "If they raise a lot of money -- oh my gosh."
The comedy benefit is just the latest in a ripple effect caused by Erdely's story, which came out early this month. According to Erdely, Ansari already hosted an impromptu event inspired by her story, and it was so successful that he's headlining a larger one tomorrow night. Included in the line-up are comedians Chelsea Peretti, Nick Kroll, and Hannibal Buress, plus an unnamed special guest.
Aaberg says she was aware that some sort of benefit was in the works, but didn't realize that Ansari is already running with the idea. Although the Anoka-Hennepin kids won't be able to attend, she says that a big donation would be a huge help in starting an LGBT drop-in center for troubled kids, as well as serve as a meeting place for support groups. Currently, the five-member board meets in her home, and the group's events are held mainly at a local church.
"I would like to get our own place," she says. "Get furniture -- a place set up so the kids can come in. That would be so amazing."
This is just the latest bit of good news for LGBT advocates in Anoka, which just in the last month have seen significant changes, including the death of the neutrality policy and an apology from the district superintendent.
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