A 60-hour Donkey Kong charity marathon just showed the internet can be a force for good

Images from live stream of Donkey Kong 64
John Shafthauer

In December 2018, the Big Lottery Fund proposed a grant to transgender charity Mermaids. This became subject to review following a campaign led by the writer of Father Ted, Graham Linehan. The campaign – which has been described as “anti-trans” – brought the story to broader public attention. It’s this that led video maker Harry Brewis (HBomberGuy) to play 60 hours of Donkey Kong 64 in aid of the charity. Viewers of Brewis’s live video stream raised barrels of money:

The campaign

In December 2018, Linehan posted a message to the Mumsnet forum. He called for people to contact the Big Lottery Fund in order to “force a review”:

Mermaid’s chief executive Susie Green responded:

Mermaids understands that people may not know exactly what we do and how we support families, therefore we want to make it clear that part of the lottery funding is for family support groups across the country to allow parents and their children to meet in person, sharing experiences and reducing isolation and loneliness.

Media coverage

Many people, like journalist and trans woman Paris Lees, condemned the campaign:

Others in the media portrayed a different message. The Times, which has previously published untrue information about Mermaids, branded the charity a ‘sex-change charity’:

A response piece to this noted:

no child under the age of 16 will ever undergo any degree of “sex change” (whatever image that might conjure); the only form of medical intervention provided to under-16s on the NHS are hormone blockers, which, far from “sterilising” children as transphobes often claim, simply delay puberty, thereby preventing trans and gender-variant kids from the potential long-term harm done by irreversible hormonal development – whether ‘natural’ or medically induced. Mermaids, moreover, is not even a healthcare provider – they may offer data and opinion on policy, like many charities, but the service they provide is one of education and community.

Positive response

As a result of all this, the campaign against Mermaids has backfired:

Lots of people have been celebrating the achievement online:

The stream itself included guests like Owen Jones, Chelsea Manning, Mara Wilson, and US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

It also gave people the opportunity to draw some fan art:

Collectivism

Over the past few years, trans people have faced numerous attacks from the media and anti-trans campaigners. Brewis hasn’t just helped raise money for Mermaids, he’s also helped show how much support there is out there. Hopefully, this signifies the start of a good year in the fight for trans rights.

Featured image via screengrab

Get involved

  • Learn more about Mermaids and support it here.
  • View Brewis’s (HBomberGuy) video essays here.

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