By Erin Caine

Lifestyle Editor

When disaster befell a UK-based charity for transgender kids, an unlikely hero appeared.

The charity, Mermaids, was granted £500,000 ($646,550) by Big Lottery Fund, with the plan to open 45 locations in the U.K.

After TV writer Graham Linehan (notorious for his continued hate speech online) prompted a wave of anti-trans backlash, however, Big Lottery decided to undertake a review of the grant.

In response to this, Mermaids CEO Susie Green said, “It is very sad to see that a white, privileged man has decided that he knows better than the parents and young people directly affected, seeking to undermine funding for often lifesaving support for children to achieve their best in the face of bigotry and prejudice.”

In the midst of the turmoil, a guy streamed himself playing “Donkey Kong 64” for 57 hours straight and raised $340,000 in the name of Mermaids and trans rights.

The gamer in question, Harry Brewis (aka “Hbomberguy”), initially started the live-stream on Twitch with the fundraising goal of just $500—which he met before it even started.

In the chat feature, countless viewers pitched in with personal stories, words of support, and general excitement about the event. The stream got some major buzz and publicity, as well, from numerous celebrity guests.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined the chat to discuss trans discrimination and economic inequality (and to talk about how much she loved playing games like “Super Mario” as a child). Meanwhile, the likes of Cher and author Neil Gaiman tweeted out their support of the fundraiser, further boosting its visibility.

Some celebrities of the gaming industry also made an appearance, such as John Romero, creator of the groundbreaking 1993 game “Doom.” Grant Kirkhope, who composed the music for “Donkey Kong 64” back in 1999, even offered a voice clip of the titular character saying, “Trans rights, okay!”

Though the support certainly came out of left field, Mermaids was “overwhelmed by all the love,” according to their Twitter account. “Thank you [Brewis] for making this happen,” they said. “You are a hero! Love wins.”

After the event (and 100 percent game completion), Brewis said in a Tweet, “There is so much more work to be done, in so many places. And we can do it, together. A brighter world is there for the taking.”

If you want to support some U.S.-based LGBTQ and trans rights organizations, here are a few:

1. The Trevor Project, the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth.

2. The TransWomen of Color Collective, which “supports the narratives, lived experiences, and leadership of trans and gender non-conforming people of color.”

3. The Sylvia Rivera Law Project, named for a Stonewall Riots icon. This organization works to “guarantee freedom for all people to self-determine gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination, or violence.”

Though hate and discrimination against the trans community still unfortunately persists, we shouldn’t underestimate the unifying power of compassion … and Donkey Kong.

The Elm

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