Topical Cream is a New York-based arts organization supporting the work of women and gender non-conforming contemporary artists.

On April 27th, 2020, Topical Cream partnered with artist Alice Longyu Gao to launch The LGBTQi+ Creators Fund. Born in China, Alice Longyu Gao is a pop-star based in New York, currently quarantining in Los Angeles. Even though she is a classically trained musician, Alice got her start in nightlife in New York City and has since grown to have a cult following. In March, Alice approached Topical Cream’s Marcella Zimmermann (a long-time friend of hers), inquiring if she knew of a non-profit organization that would be interested in partnering with her to raise money for LGBTQi+ and female-identifying artists working in nightlife and performance. Having served as a highly-active board member for a little over a year, Marcella immediately thought of Topical Cream.

Alice Longyu Gao hosting the virtual fundraising party on Zoom for The LGBTQi+ Creators Fund on April 27th, 2020.

Alice envisioned The LGBTQi+ Creators Fund having a free online application, and she hoped to crowd-source the funds directly from her community, with Topical Cream’s help. The singer felt confident she could convince her colleagues in the music industry to get on board to support those who were in need after COVID-19 had temporarily halted the city’s nightlife. It was clear to Topical Cream and Alice that performers and others who work in nightlife (many of whom identify as LGBTQi+) weren’t getting the same amount of empathy for their situation in the press as those working in other public-facing service industry jobs.

Nat Puff kicking off the Zoom party.

The fundraiser took place as a three-hour party over Zoom and was hosted by Club Quarantine, which was recently featured in The New York Times, as well as Really Like to Party. The party included donated performances from artists in the LGBTQi+ community, including Dorian Electra, 100 GecsHANACowgirl ClueAlex ChapmanNat Puff aka Left at London, as well as a surprise performance from Nadya Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot. Four-thousand people across live-streaming platforms joined the effort, ultimately raising over $7,500 for the grantees.

Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova playing The LGBTQi+ Creators Fund fundraising Zoom party.

Fifteen grantees were chosen by Topical Cream’s board through three rounds of voting. As is the standard with need-based grants, the identities of the grantees—many of whom are from vulnerable communities, with some even facing homelessness—were kept private. 

One of the female-identifying artists who was chosen openly admitted that COVID-19 had taken a toll on her mental health and that these funds had “lifted her spirits and had given her hope.” Over forty-percent of the selected grantees identified as transgender or gender non-conforming.

All images courtesy of Club Quarantine.