Zero21 Social Club reaches out to Knysna residents

Vida Fantabisher was honoured to perform at the #4Knysna event on Thursday June 15.

The entrance at Zero21 Social Club was lined with donations from the patrons who visited on the night to support the event and join the party afterwards.

More than R5 000 was collected from the door proceeds and donations including clothes, food and blankets were collected.

Two weeks ago, a fire ripped through a large tract of the Garden Route, claiming seven lives and leaving thousands of people displaced.

About 500 homes were razed to the ground. More than 1 000 firefighters from around the country had been called to help with firefighting operations. And with Knysna being a “a home away from home” for many in the LGBTIQ community, with the annual Pink Loerie and Mardi Gras and Arts Festival seeing hundreds of people flock to Knysna each year to celebrate gay culture, it was only fitting that the Zero21 Social Club contribute in some way, said the owner, Roberto de Faria.

The idea started with a Facebook post from a regular visitor to the Pink Loerie and Mardi Gras and Arts Festival, who suggested that the LGBTIQ community in Cape Town find a way to support the victims of the Knysna fire.

Mr De Faria said he commented on the post and said that he would help, and that his doors were always open to assist.

“Riaan (Chetsworth Phillips) and I chatted a bit, and it all just snowballed from there. Everyone wanted to help, and everyone was willing to give.”

He said in the LGBTIQ community, there is a huge following for the Pink Loerie and Mardi Gras and Arts Festival.

“They are always so welcoming and supportive of the gay community, and we wanted to show them that we care for them and support them as well, and Zero21 has supported them because they have created a safe space for us, just like Zero21 has.”

Riaan Chetsworth Phillips, who organised the fundraiser along with Mr De Faria, said the Pink Loerie and Mardi Gras and Arts Festival has been supporting the community since its inception in 2001. “It’s known as the home away from home for many of us, so I just asked the LGBTIQ community to give back.

“The people of Knysna have always been so accommodating, and have always been there for us when we attend the festival, now we want to be there for them.

“We want to show them that we appreciate what they have done for us over the years. It’s our turn to give back to them.”

He said he was overjoyed to see how many people wanted to help when he posted on Facebook. “Everyone wanted to be a part of it. They know what Knysna means to them and what it means to the community as a whole. The LGBTIQ community just came together and decided to support us in our plight and just show the love.”

He said the items donated, as well as the door fees, will be split among different organisations assisting in the Knysna fire relief, but will go mainly to the Pink Loerie. The main performer at the event was Vida Fantabisher, a regular entertainer at Zero21, and when Mr De Faria approached her and asked if she would perform at the fund-raiser, she was more than happy to help.

“I attend the Pink Loerie annually, and I was crowned Miss Mardi Gras 2016. I have to go back to hand over my crown, so when we saw the news about the fire, we were devastated. It was very upsetting. “It’s very sad, but we are doing what we can. They were always there for us, now we need to be there for them.”
Mr Chetsworth Phillips said they will still be taking donations of blankets, clothing, non-perishable foods, or anything that will keep people warm. Mr De Faria said the drop-box will be kept at the club for another two weeks.

To donate, contact Riaan Chesworth Phillips or Roberto de Faria through Facebook.

The Pink Loerie did not respond at the time of going to print.