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Show Your Love a Valentine’s Day bash in support of LGBT Youth Line

 A group of young Toronto gay gays are making sure you don’t spend this Valentines Day with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s watching re-runs of Will & Grace.

Jeff Brown, Andrew Edwards, Jason Yantha and Andrew Gouveia, four best friends working as a collective called The Haus of Jaja, are hosting a queer V-Day event that takes the pressure off of being single and ready to mingle, with the focus of giving back.

“Gay men are less committed to a traditional Valentine’s Day, which is about dinner, dates and chocolates,” says Edwards, 25, who works in technology sales. “There is an opening for a good event that supports a good cause.”

That idea lead to the creation of Show Your Love, a Valentine’s Day bash in support of the Toronto LGBT Youth Line, a toll-free phone service provided by youth for youth that provides on-call support, information and referrals for at-risk youth.

“We’re a group of four young gay men trying to make an impact,” says Jeff Brown, 27, who works in human resources. “At our age it’s hard to get involved with charitable organizations and have some creative control. We wanted to form a project that we could steer ourselves.”

The fundraiser, taking place at the The Pilot Tavern’s Stealth Lounge in Yorkville, is the first of many fundraisers The Haus of Jaja plans to host this year. The ambitious group, who have backgrounds in media, marketing and public relations, have secured all the V-Day party essentials, including pink and red balloons, a drag performance by local diva Scarlett Bobo to a hot guy balloon pop.                               

“Two hot guys will be covered in balloons and we’re auctioning off popping the balloons so we can get them down to their skivvies,” says Edwards. “It’s going to be like cupid exploding.”

The collective chose to support the Youth Line because it wasn’t that long ago that they themselves needed someone to reach out to. “It hits home,” says Edwards, who grew up in Richmond Hill. “Being a gay youth is scary and being confused about your sexuality can take a toll. That’s something the Youth Line deals with on a daily basis.”

Gitanjali Lena, Executive Director at the Youth Line, says the Haus of Jaja’s efforts are timely as February tends to be a slower month for donations. The money raised at their event will directly help the organization acquire a new server, which will improve their ability to connect with at-risk youth online. “As a tech-based non-profit that provides online services for LGBT youth as well as traditional telephone support, a new server is something we really need,” she says.

The Youth Line, which relies on 40 volunteers aged 26 and under, operates six nights a week from 4pm to 9:30pm. In five hours it averages six calls, eight chats, seven texts and four emails from youth, says Lena. “We’re getting less phone calls and more chats and texts. Youth are changing how they seek support,” she says.

The Haus of Jaja hopes to raise $10,000 for the Youth Line through their Valentine’s Day event, a goal already on its way thanks to support from the Bank of Montreal and other corporate sponsors.

“We’re a lean, mean, nimble team of people who are passionate about what we’re doing,” says Brown.

For more on the LGBT Youth Line, go to youthline.ca.

Show Your Love a Valentine’s Day bash in support of LGBT Youth Line

Show Your Love presented by the Haus of Jaja is on Fri, Feb 14 in the Stealth Lounge at The Pilot Tavern. 22 Cumberland St. 8pm. $10 at the door.

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