Entertainment » Music

Swish Straight Allies Raise Money for Marriage Equality Campaign

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Thursday Aug 2, 2012

The straight allies of Swish have teamed up with singer/songwriter Cassandra Kubinski this month to raise funds for marriage equality. The campaign, launched with a special July 26 concert at New York City's Metropolitan Room, will donate proceeds from the downloads of two new singles to fund "Straight to the Polls," Swish's fall ad campaign that encourages straight allies to speak out in support of marriage equality.

"Cassandra is a rising star and straight ally who cares very much about marriage equality, as does Swish, and she believes strongly that straight allies can play a very important role in the LGBT movement," said Swish President and Co-Founder Sue Sena.

Sena said that Kubinski, who wanted to lend her time and talent to the movement, approached Swish with a single she had written to sing at her best gay friend and his fiancée's wedding.

"When Phil and Shawn asked me last August to write a wedding song for their December wedding, it was such an honor," said Kubinski. "For me to be a part of people's lives like that....Hopefully they will revisit what I wrote throughout their lives together."

Kubinski said that she interviewed the men about their relationships, and asked them to send her three examples of songs they loved. She took their answers, meshed them with the vibe of those songs, and the results was "On My Way Home," which she described as, "about not just traveling the road of life, but the journey of coming to find each other."

Her friend Phil Zipkin then wrote an accompanying single, "Eleven Times Over," which Kubinski also recorded acoustically, via Kalehoff Productions. The men encouraged her to release the singles and let the proceeds benefit a charity working toward marriage equality. So she reached out to Swish, and together they produced the July 26 single release party. Between now and August 16, 25 percent of the proceeds of the online downloads of these songs on iTunes and CD Baby will benefit Swish's marriage equality campaign.

To download the songs, visit:
"On My Way Home" CD Baby
"On My Way Home" iTunes
"Eleven Times Over" CD Baby
"Eleven Times Over" iTunes

Straight Allies Donate Talent to LGBT Fight

"All I was thinking was, ’How can we have the story of these songs become bigger than the songs?’," said Kubinski. "I have attended Swish events, I know what kind of work they’re doing to promote harmonious relations and the ability for people to get married regardless of their sexual orientation and I believe in that. Part of what’s great in creating music is that it’s such a powerful, emotional motivator. And these two songs have the stories to match the passion."

Initial response to the songs has been strong, with a lot of associated social media activity. Swish and Kubinski are committed to the goal of getting 1,000 downloads by August 16.

"It’s going to be social media campaign to encourage straight allies to speak out in support of marriage equality, campaign in their state and go to the polls to ensure that marriage equality isn’t prohibited in their state," Sena said of "Straight to the Polls."

"I think it will help cause a shift in perspective to see that it’s not just the LGBT community fighting for themselves, but that there a lot of straight people willing to be vocal about this," Kubinski added. "I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a friend or family member who is part of the LGBT community -- those are our people, our community."

Swish has been a visible presence at New York’s Gay Pride march for 10 years. This year’s "We Are Family" contingent drew more than 200 marchers, about the same number that came out to march with Swish in the Los Angeles Pride parade.

"Pride was amazing this year!" said Sena. "We were in L.A. Pride, and then at our 10th NYC Pride march, and it was our biggest contingent of straight allies and LGBT loved ones to date."

Sena started Swish in 2003, with the help of a small group of activists and concerned citizens. Swish began life as "Straight Women in Support of Homosexuals," a formal recognition of the vital role "fag hags" have played and continue to play in the life and struggle of gay men. The organization has since welcomed straight men as members.

Swish’s program is four-pronged: Pride; Swish voices blog; community services and advocacy; and Swish Nights Out, a series of monthly educational networking events.

"We initially came together to create a straight ally contingent of 35 marchers in the NYC Pride March, because other than PFLAG, there wasn’t one for friends and peers," Sena recalled. "We now have 3,000 members worldwide, working to build a world that includes equality, freedom and love for all LGBT people."

Swish has grown a lot, particularly in the last three or four years. Sena said that the commitment and compassion of members like Kubinski is just the latest example of how members use their time and talent to lend support to the LGBT movement.

The fundraising campaign for "On My Way Home" and "Eleven Times Over" runs through August 16. Both songs can be downloaded at iTunes Music Store or www.CDBaby.com. For more info, visit www.swishpride.org

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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