Dana Goldberg: Laughter With Purpose And Pride
Meet the country’s hardest-working comic, standing up for our cause.
While we’ve been waving rainbow flags, day drinking, and avoiding our exes—or not—standup comic and activist Dana Goldberg has been working and touring around the country to entertain and inform our LGBTQ community—and crack us up along the way. We caught up with the jet-setting justice seeker for mirth and more.
How was your Pride this year? What did you get up to?
My Pride season was pretty incredible this year. Partially because I’m an adult and making better life choices as to not day drink and make out with ex-girlfriends, but more than that I met some of the most incredible people on the road. My season started out kicking off the main stage of the Resist March in Los Angeles ahead of Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, Chris Rock and Adam Lambert. It was an honor to be on stage in front of more than 100k LGBTQ people and straight allies marching in peace and love to resist the hateful rhetoric coming out of this administration.
My next stop was in a little town called Bisbee, AZ. I fell in love with it. The pride parade lasted nine minutes, and they were every bit as excited as a three-hour parade. The next morning I hopped on a plane to NYC to perform at Trevor Live with John Oliver and Imagine Dragons for The Trevor Project. That was an incredible night. There is a lot of gay in Broadway, and there was a lot of Broadway at the event. We raised a lot of money and awareness to help continue to keep out LGBTQ youth safe and supported. My next event was at Caroline’s on Broadway to honor the brilliant Kate Clinton and raise some money for an organization called LPAC: The Lesbian Political Action committee. Thirteen years ago I had one of my worst shows in that club right in front of Gloria Steinem. I’m happy to say the show was awesome, amazing audience, made Gloria laugh, and she is still one of the sexiest 80-something-year-olds on the planet.
After NYC I headed to Lexington, KY for a 10th anniversary awards ceremony for the community. I tell you what, it’s an incredible experience to share the stage with icons like Meryl Streep and Katy Perry, but there is something deeply moving about hosting a gala in which they are honoring the home town heroes who day in and day out continue to push equality forward in some of the most ass backwards states in our country. I saw the same thing the next night in Salt Lake City for the Human Right Campaign Gala. This is Mormon country and our fight to protect our LGBTQ youth is being led by some of the most unexpected straight allies like Barbara and Steve Young. I knew he could throw a touchdown pass, I had to idea he and his wife have spent years keeping Mormon LGBTQ youth safe in their communities. There are so many amazing things happening all over this country, and I’m one of the lucky ones who gets to travel outside of my California bubble to experience it. Pride is stronger than ever in our country right now, and it’s been wonderful to witness. However, I’m exhausting just remember all of that. I need a vacation.
So basically you celebrated Pride by working.
And by accumulating as many airline miles as one can in a given month. (Laughs) I’ve also been able to enjoy some of the festivities between work functions, but this pride season has been a lot about making folks laugh and raising money for those organizations who are fighting tooth and nail to keep the forward momentum in our fight for equality. This administration has me fired up, so if I have to miss a little day drinking to resist what’s happening in Washington DC and around this country, so be it. Who am I kidding…I can do both.
Where will you be performing for the rest of the summer? Any activity you’re especially excited about?
My schedule has been a little exhausting, but deeply rewarding this pride season. June saw the likes of LA, NY, AZ, KY and Utah. In July I’ll be emceeing the 30th Anniversary Gala for LEAGUE at AT&T. This is one of the oldest corporate LGBTQ organizations in the country and they are one of the nation’s leaders for workplace inclusion as well as equality on a national level.
After that I’ll be flying to Portland on July 15th and 16th for the inaugural Portland Queer Comedy Festival. I love the city of Portland and try to get there to perform once a year. This time I’ll get to share the stage with some of my favorite comedians. There will be multiple shows each day so I’m also looking forward to being an audience member and supporting my friends.
What are your plans after Pride month? Any rainbows?
My exhausted lesbian ass is going to be on a plane to Hawaii for my first vacation in a year and a half. I’ll have five blissful days hiking (as I said…lesbian) and enjoying the waterfalls. After that, I hit the ground running again.
What comes next for you in 2017—in terms of events, attitude, and your main LGBTQIA mission?
I’m about to kick off a weekly video series fusing my comedy with political current events affecting the LGBTQ community and our allies (which is basically anyone whose moral compass is working). I’ll also be doing my first table read for a feature film called Genisis written by Audrey Evans. I’ll be co-starring along side Meredith Baxter and Suzanne Westenhoefer. My attitude is basically to stay as vigilant as possible and continuing to speak out against this administration. Since twitter seems to be the orange petulant child’s communication medium of choice, I guess I’ll keep doing that in 140 characters or less.
Tell us more about your involvement with the Trevor Project? And why that particular charity?
I’ve had the pleasure of becoming one of the Trevor Project’s key fundraisers at their national galas over the last couple of years by running the live auction. I get up on stage, make people laugh, and then I take as much money from them as I can. Usually people disengage during the live auction of any gala if they aren’t bidding, but I’ve found a way to keep them engaged not only through my comedy, but by keeping the auction exciting and fun. People tend to give more when they are happy, so that’s my job at these events.
I’m involved with The Trevor Project because I feel like now more than ever, the LGBTQ youth in our country are getting some very hateful messages not only from the administration, but from their neighbors, their churches and sometimes even their own families. Trevor gives these young people a place to turn if they feel scared or alone. It’s an incredible organization that is saving the lives of so many of our LGBTQ youth.
You also performed as part of Levity & Justice for LPAC. Can you tell me about that event and why you're getting behind the organization?
This LPAC event at Caroline’s was amazing. I shared the stage with several of my favorite comedians to honor the incomparable Kate Clinton. It truly was a night filled with laughter and adoration for such an amazing comedian, author, and advocate. I was also able to help LPAC raise over $50k that night so they can continue to support lesbian and queer politicians in the upcoming elections.
I’m excited to be working with LPAC because their organization is vital right now to garner support for not only female candidates, but more specifically lesbian and queer women of all backgrounds who are trying to win a seat at what is a VERY sis gender old white man’s table (worst dinner party ever). LPAC is working hard to support the political campaigns of those who are committed to helping move the fight for full LGBTQ equality forward and make sure we are equally protected under the law. In this political climate, these candidates don’t often get the national coverage they deserve, and LPAC is committed to changing that. I want women in Congress who are going to fight each and every day to protect the communities that are under fire from this administration. We should all get behind this organization.
You have a longstanding relationship with the HRC, hosting over a dozen annual events for LGBT civil rights. What is HRC doing for us to keep us vigilant under the current administration?
There is so much information circulating right now, it’s almost hard to keep up with. We have an administration giving mixed messages on their support of the LGBTQ community every day. We have a VP who believes children can be “cured” through reparative therapy. We have a Secretary of Education who has said publicly that she would not step in if schools discriminate against LGBTQ students. She is more concerned with a grizzly bear in the schools than she is with the civil rights of our trans students. The Human Rights Campaign is literally going into communities, knocking on doors, and trying to get people out to vote in the 2018 elections. We need politicians in place who will work to protect the precious ground we have made over the last 8 years under the Obama administration. The HRC is doing everything it can to hold this administration accountable for any actions that try and roll back the rights of the community.
What is the best way for Curve readers to follow you—from anywhere in the country?