On Wednesday night at the prestigious Clapham Grand, performers, influencers, members of the trans community and allies came together to raise an eye-watering £40,208 for charity Not A Phase – it’s a triumphant tale of how huge social media followings can be leveraged for social action.
At the heart of the We Stand With You fundraiser is viral TikTok star Max Balegde. The content creator, who boasts three and a half million followers on the social media platform, was moved to action after ‘transphobic’ comments by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the Conservative Party Conference last month.
An emotional Max shared a video online appealing to his army of followers that they do something to show solidarity with the trans community and, after just four weeks, that journey culminated in a night of star performances and speeches at The Clapham Grand.
Big Brother star Hallie Clark, TikTokers Joe Baggs and Jack Remmington, activist Jaxon Feeley and pop star Caity Baser are just some of the names who are present to add their support to the work of Not A Phase during the evening. West End stars Claudia Kariuki and Jaz Terry bring the house down with a duet and Sadie Sinner whips up the crowd with a powerhouse performance.
There’s also a trademark camp sing-song from viral sensation Bailey J Mills, while Sex Education stars Ant Lexa and Felix Mufti provide an edge with a performance of their original music.
The packed Clapham Grand has come out in support of Max’s good-willed event, but it’s all about Not A Phase with the £40,000 raised going straight to the charity.
Founded in 2020, Not A Phase is a trans-led grassroots charity that works to ‘improve the lives of trans+ adults, through awareness campaigning, social projects and funding trans+ lead initiatives’. Speaking to CelebMix backstage, founder Danielle St James explained just how special the We Stand With You is to the charity.
Danielle said: “It makes everything we do possible. We are a really small charity but we’ve made a silk purse out of a sow’s ear for three and a half years and we have a big service across the UK. Unexpected boosts like this allow us to not only keep going, but look to grow as well. It’s vital.
“It started as a direct conversation between Max and I. I saw a very emotional reaction to Rishi Sunak’s statement and Max breaking his heart on camera. It reminded me of the start of Not A Phase when we thought, we just have to do something.”
Within minutes of reaching out, Max and Danielle were on a video call and the idea of We Stand With You began to form. A month and a half later, with the Not A Phase founder tying the knot in that time, the ambitious idea came to fruition.
Explaining how the idea first began to form, Max told CelebMix: “Four weeks ago I made a video responding to what the Prime Minister said, and I had no idea it would blow up how it did. I thought, if everyone shares the same opinion, why don’t we actually do something?
“I was very naive and was like, let’s do a march. We had 20,000 people interested in getting involved at the time and there was nowhere safe to do that, especially with trans people being marginalised and not having the best relationship with the police. That wasn’t even an option.”
When first sharing videos about a potential march, Max quickly came under heavy criticism online for looking to go down that route due to safety concerns. The TikTok star listened and engaged with feedback, found Not A Phase and ended up using his enviable list of contacts to pull in favours from stars for the Clapham Grand fundraiser.
“Sometimes in that instant galvanisation mistakes are made – I saw what he was trying to do [with the march] and it was great, but the wrong direction,” Danielle, who is full of praise for Max, added.
“It’s not only helpful, it’s vital. I spend so much of my time throughout the year telling people they have a duty to stand up for us. As trans people, our voices only go so far, we need people who have a platform and the privilege – people are more open to listening to a gay guy than a trans person – and Max realised that.
“I think he deserves so much credit. This hasn’t been without criticism and rather than shy away from it, he’s listened. He is, to me, a shining example of advocacy.”
Not only does the night at The Clapham Grand raise tens of thousands of pounds, five thousand of which from Max himself, the venue is filled with hope and electricity.
That’s in no small part helped by headliners Black Peppa and Bimini. The former brings Beyonce’s Renaissance tour to life with a rip-roaring lipsync as the latter closes the night with her trademark brand of riotous dancefloor fillers.
“The amount of people that have shown up, I cannot believe it,” an emotional Max Balegde says as he summed up the night. “It shows how powerful this cause is and how important it is. I’m so proud of it.”