Last year, the Grammy-winning rock band fun. and fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff's sister, designer Rachel Antonoff, launched The Ally Coalition (TAC), a gay rights organization "with the purpose of inspiring people, in particular their peers in the music, fashion, and entertainment industry, to take action for LGBTQ equality."
Backstage at their big Yahoo! On the Road gig at San Francisco's Nob Hill Masonic Center on May 31, Jack and fun. frontman Nate Ruess spoke with Yahoo! Music about what TAC is doing and why LGBTQ causes matter so much to them. There was a lot of serious, important talk, but the interview ended on a light note…just to keep things, well, you know, fun.
YAHOO! OTR: Let's talk a bit about your organization, the Ally Coalition. What's it all about?
JACK: It's a nonprofit that we started based on a lot of work that we'd already been doing. We raise a lot of money, spread a lot of awareness, just kind of do what we can, given that we have a lot of resources because now the band is known.
YAHOO! OTR: What are some of your ongoing endeavors?
JACK: A dollar from every concert ticket sold gets donated — so that, as you can imagine, really adds up. And then a big thing we do is we work with a lot of high school GSAs [gay/straight alliances]. We've also been doing a lot of work with gay homeless youth, which is a big issue that not too many people — including us, until recently — knew how serious it was.
YAHOO! OTR: There are a lot of worthy causes you guys could have gotten behind, and all three of you are actually straight. So why was this cause in particular the one you wanted to focus on?
NATE: For us, we felt like this was the most important. Especially now, you can see things are starting to change for the better, but there's still a lot of work to do. This just felt like something we could be unified about and speak with a lot passion about. I mean, you can find a lot of things to be passionate about, but for us, this feels a lot like the Civil Rights Movement of the '60s. And we want to be a part of it.
YAHOO! OTR: Any cool reactions you've gotten from fans about what the Ally Coalition is doing?
NATE: Yeah, it's really cool for someone to write us a note and say they were on the fence about these issues, and then we helped supply certain information and they now stand with us. That's an incredible thing.
JACK: We talk to a lot of straight allies and a lot of gay/trans/bisexual kids also, so we kind of hear about it from all sides. It's really cool to hear the stories from the people that actually are dealing with this stuff, and those are the really inspiring moments. Like, we did something with this one GSA and they were like, "We had so few members, but then the next day everyone in school was signing up and we were the coolest club!" That might sound silly or high-schoolish, but that's really the trickle-down effect: acceptance, and people thinking something's okay and in some sense cool.
YAHOO! OTR: So would you guys ever do an allstar Ally Coalition charity song, a la Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas" or USA For Africa's "We Are the World"?
NATE: Well, yes, but it would have to be really good — and it would have to have Dan Aykroyd, just like the original "We Are the World."
YAHOO! OTR: Of course.
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