On the twentieth anniversary of its founding, The Ali Forney Center (AFC) is hosting “We Are Family Dance-a-thon” on Nov. 20th, bringing together nightlife, culinary arts, and entertainment with live performances, DJs, and food stations to fundraise for LGTBQ+ youth. The dance-a-thon takes place on Trans Day of Remembrance at the Knockdown Center in Queens, and is co-hosted by Eva Reign and Marti Gould Cummings, who spoke with Flaunt about the importance of this event and their relationship with the community.
Chefs such as Eric See, Bill Clark, Tony Ortiz and more will provide culinary delights for the day, while DJs like Amber Valentine, Boyyyish, and Drew Baker will provide the music. Those who wish to attend can celebrate in-person or virtually, and can dance along with dance-fitness studios Forward_Space and Dance Church.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, this dance-a-thon, and its importance?
Eva Reign: I am an actress, writer, storyteller and all-around bad bitch. The dance-a-thon is a benefit event for the Ali Forney Center which supports houseless queer youth here in New York City.
Marti Gould Cummings: I am a NYC drag artist and political activist who has proudly worked with Ali Forney Center for the last 12 years as a volunteer, events chair, and board member. The Dance a Thon is important because not only is it bringing community together for a fun night but it is raising thousands of dollars to help the most vulnerable within our community. Our youth, especially our trans youth, need our support and these funds raised will go a long way in providing crucial services.
How did you get involved/why did you want to participate as presenters in this event?
E: My dear friend Dev Doe asked me to participate. Dev is one of the first friends I made in New York after only being here for a week. We met very randomly in the Village, and she hasn’t been able to get rid of me yet! I’m very honored to be a host for this event. The Ali Forney Center has helped so many people including some people I personally know. The New York queer nonprofits are very special to me because this city has been a mecca for LGBTQ around the world, and many of the nonprofits in this city have set a standard for the rest of the world to follow and learn from.
M: I got involved with AFC when I was in my very early 20s and have been with them ever since. I so strongly believe in the work they do. We are launching the first ever all trans housing for unhoused trans youth and being able to be a part of that is huge. Our young people need our support.
What do you hope participants of this event will take home with them when the day is over?
E: I hope participants feel connected to something larger than themselves. Community is what it’s all about.
M: I hope that people at this event will feel joy and celebration in a time in our country that feels so bleak and scary. We are a community and being able to come together as such to raise money for a great cause is what community is all about.
Can you speak on the relationship between NY and the queer community? How do you think they inspire each other?
E: New York is a legendary place for so many reasons but one of the biggest reasons is the queer community. Even before the Stonewall Riots with Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, this city was home to Mary Jones, a Black trans sex worker in the 1830s who lived in Seneca Village which is now present-day Central Park. Trans and queer people are embedded into the infrastructure of New York and vice versa. Every aspect of culture from the art, the fashion, the nightlife, the food are all directly influenced by New York’s queer community. We decide what’s cool, and the city listens.
M: NYC is the home of queer liberation. It is because of black and brown trans women that we have so many of the rights we have today. As those rights are being threatened and under attack we have to continue the fight that was started long before Stonewall. NYC and all 5 of its boroughs is the home to thousands of queer people of all backgrounds. We are the lifeblood of this city.
What comes to mind when you think of home?
M: Being with loved ones, chosen family.