A night of entertainment supporting sex workers

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Comedy, camaraderie and a good cause will be on display later this month at Solidarity Is Sweet, an evening of entertainment designed to benefit and support sex workers.

The queer-focused event will be held Jan. 24 at Calvary United Methodist Church in West Philadelphia.

All proceeds from the event will be donated directly to Project SAFE. The peer organization, founded in 2004, is run by and for women, nonbinary, gender non-conforming and trans people in the Philadelphia sex and drug trades.

“We exist because sex workers in our city (and around the world) are not having their basic human rights respected,” said the organization in a mission statement posted on their website. “Sex workers are stigmatized, criminalized and killed for their profession. Our community deserves more, and we work to ensure people have access to basic needs and harm reduction supplies alongside our community building and advocacy efforts.”

Solidarity Is Sweet is sponsored by Philly SocFem, a local socialist-feminist working group invested in dismantling white supremacism and patriarchal capitalism across the region. Their ongoing series of fundraisers have previously supported the successful City Council campaign of Working Families Party candidate Kendra Brooks and raised funds for a nationwide Socialist Feminist convergence held in Philadelphia by the collective in April 2019.

“Solidarity Is Sweet: A Night of Queer Comedy to Benefit Project Safe grew out of the exciting realization that we could build momentum for sex work decriminalization, uplift local queer performers, forge strong coalitions with other leftists and support sex workers rights simultaneously,” said Maggie Hart, co-chair of Philly SocFem. “As socialist feminists, we believe that it is paramount to advocate for the community members who are the most marginalized under capitalism.”

Hart views solidarity with sex workers as an extension of the collective’s central mission.

“The fight for the decriminalization of sex work is a labor issue, a race issue, a gender issue and a class issue,” she told PGN. “We’re looking forward to bringing more people into this pressing work and raising as much money as possible.”

The event will feature performances from the Philadelphia-based queer comedy duo Queerbait; nonbinary comics Oliver de Luz and Gab Landrum; Philadelphia performer Tan Hoang; and New York-based comic TIM KOV.

In an emailed joint statement to PGN, Rose Luardo and Shannon Fahey, the comics behind Queerbait, described their excitement at being tapped to perform for a worthwhile cause.

“Being asked to perform in Solidarity Is Sweet to benefit Project SAFE is a spectacular honor for two freakish Queerdos like us,” they said. “We are humbled and excited to contribute our fashion-forward comedy to an incredible cause.”

Hart hopes that Philly SocFem’s collaboration with Project SAFE will extend beyond this fundraiser.

“We have much to learn from them in terms of their radical approach to harm reduction, community support, and medical and political advocacy,” she told PGN. “This past December, Philly SocFem organized a political education panel with two Project SAFE organizers and local documentary filmmaker Vicky Funari. Additionally, multiple members of Philly SocFem are regular Project SAFE volunteers.”

Tickets for the fundraiser, which runs from 7 to 9 p.m., are $18 and can be purchased on Eventbrite. Those wishing to support Project SAFE’s mission but who cannot attend can make a tax-deductible donation through the organization’s website.