As Amit Khanna saw his 30th birthday draw near, he wanted to do more than just get wasted with friends in a bar. So he’s making his May 11 party — YOUnique Ties — a fundraiser for the anti-homophobia organization Jer’s Vision.
Jer’s Vision is the brainchild of Jeremy Dias, who faced homophobic harassment from high school officials
when he tried to start a gay support group as a student. After settling out of court with the Algoma District School Board in 2005, Dias put the money into creating the organization. Jer’s Vision organizes scholarships, school workshops and conferences to teach kids about the damaging effects of homophobia and bullying and promote diversity.
The party’s a landmark moment for Khanna, a former teacher and first-timer to event planning. He’s wanted to give back to his community for years. “For years, I wanted to start my own charity . . . because I really believe in the power of education,” he explains. Now, he says he’s excited to support the educational work of someone else. Khanna hopes to raise at least $4,000.
Khanna discovered Jer’s Vision while he and his wife were searching for charities. He says he hopes to bring straight people’s attention to the issue of homophobia. “Youth dealing with their sexuality — and for lack of a better term, not dealing with their sexuality, even committing suicide — it’s kind of really been out there,” he says. “And I think the straight community doesn’t really understand it and doesn’t really relate to it or connect with it.
“The straight community needs to understand that . . . if you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem.”
Amit promises that YOUnique Ties will be a fun event – and not “another boring fundraiser.” The event will feature comedians Andrew Johnston, Aastha Lal and Mo Arora. There will also be prizes for the most creative neck tie, bow tie, hair tie or scarf, as well as a raffle and a 50/50 draw.