Actor and writer Jeffery Self was spending a few days with his parents in New Orleans when on Sunday morning his mother woke him up with news of a shooting in Florida. Initially, he assumed his mom was just receiving news of Christina Grimmie's death, which had happened 24 hours prior, but a quick scan of his phone made it clear that this was another matter entirely.
After processing the tragedy in Orlando, which left 50 people dead and more than 50 wounded, Self decided to do something positive to help the community heal. On Wednesday from 3 p.m to 6 p.m. PDT, Self and several of his friends who are also part of the LGBTQ community, will host a telethon.
"It's about starting a positive conversation. It's about moving forward. It's about being there for each other. This is me with my iPhone in my living room on Facebook Live, but that's the most I can muscle up in the next 24 hours to put something together," Self announced on Instagram Tuesday.
The simple plan has a profound goal, according to Self: "I just invited over a lot of queer performers and friends of mine to my living room to gather together and laugh and talk and bond and perform. Some of them are going to sing, answer questions on Facebook Live chat, we going to show, I hope, what a wonderful community this is."
While he is determined to showcase in the telethon positive examples of the LGBTQ community, like he has for much of his career, Self is also terrified that the Orlando shooting is "going to make queer kids even more and more afraid of coming out or living their truth."
The night before he announced the Facebook Live telethon, he attended a vigil for victims of the Orlando shooting in Los Angeles.
"It was so inspiring and powerful to see that many queer people in one place. There was an element of it where you did wonder 'Is this safe?', but it is safe and I think we have to keep gathering together. I think there may be a lot of people out there, like a 16-year-old in the middle of America in some small town who doesn't have anyone to talk to about this who feels safe talking openly about their queerness and their fear surrounding [it], and I hope by doing this on Facebook Live that we can answer those questions and, more importantly, we can just be there to show healthy examples of queer people living their lives in positive ways."