What do you get when you mix Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Donkey Kong's voice actor and a very tired YouTuber? A highly successful Twitch stream for a trans charity, of course!
Over the past few days, YouTuber H.Bomberguy (Harry Brewis) has streamed Donkey Kong 64 to raise money for trans charity Mermaids. The stream began on 18th January, with the aim of fully completing Donkey Kong 64: a feat which has apparently eluded H.Bomberguy since childhood. We can be thankful it's taken him this long, however, as his ambitious mission has raised over $340,000 (£233,490).
The charity in question - Mermaids - is a British organisation focused on "raising awareness about gender nonconformity in children and young people". It provides vital support for trans kids and their families, and has won several awards for its work over the years.
To hear more about Mermaids directly from the people who run it, make sure to check out their website.
Somewhat unusually, H.Bomberguy's stream was motivated by a recent campaign against Mermaids when the charity was selected for National Lottery funding. Led by writer Graham Linehan (Father Ted, The IT Crowd) and papers like the Times, Mermaids was labelled an "aggressive group" seeking to encourage child sex-change procedures. Linehan also promoted an email campaign against the charity on Mumsnet, in which he called for National Lottery funding to be withdrawn (which has since been deleted). Ultimately this prompted the National Lottery to "undertake a review of [the] grant", which meant Mermaids lost out on £500,000 worth of funding. For now, at least.
In response to this, H.Bomberguy set up the stream to combat the "woefully misinformed" media discussion surrounding the de-funding of Mermaids - and also to spite Graham Linehan. Viewers have been using the Twitter hashtag #ThanksGraham to simultaneously mock the writer and promote the charity stream. Every cloud has a silver Linehan.
Can whoever bought the web address https://t.co/TgG9Mp6Qjx and made it redirect to my stream please get in touch you absolute genius— Hbomberguy (@Hbomberguy) January 21, 2019
The stream wasn't a one-person mission, however, as H.Bomberguy was joined by a number of famous faces (or rather, voices) via Discord. John Romero, co-creator of Doom, popped on for a chat - along with activist Chelsea Manning, and even US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Legendary video game composer Grant Kirkhope, who voiced DK in Donkey Kong 64, also dropped by to leave a special voice message:
Over the course of the stream, H.Bomberguy smashed several previous funding targets (the first of which was a humble $500) and looks set to raise even more in the coming days. It's an impressive feat - not only in terms of the money and awareness raised for Mermaids, but for the sheer physical endurance of 24-hour charity streaming. The final time was 57h 48m 32s - not exactly a world record, but some toilet and sleep breaks were necessary.
Importantly, members of the trans community stated the stream helped them feel supported and recognised. One trans viewer I spoke to, Athena Paradigm, felt the stream was "something world-changing to see and even be a small part of".
"There was such energy, such hope, and so much love for my trans siblings," she continued. "My biggest worry now is that this was just a spark that flares brightly and dies quietly. My biggest hope is that this becomes an unstoppable movement of irrepressible good."
Another trans woman, Lauren, told me she "still has a stupid smile on [her] face from it the day after".
"Seeing the solidarity of everyone joining in the stream and offering support reminded me of that first feeling after I transitioned, except instead of the fear and loneliness, it's the feeling that everyone is there for you and will have your back when you need it most."
Thank you all. So much. I didn't plan for this, and I never could have done. A lot of more specific thanks are in order when I can get to them, but first and foremost for the sake of best keeping track, donate from now directly to @Mermaids_Gender athttps://t.co/HvVtlEd5j4— Hbomberguy (@Hbomberguy) January 21, 2019
With the speedrun complete and the fundraising goal well and truly smashed, H.Bomberguy is now having a well-deserved rest. You can catch up on the entire stream over on H.Bomberguy's Twitch channel - and, if you're as impressed by the event as I am, you can donate directly to Mermaids here.