Ariana Grande makes surprise appearance during LGBT benefit


Ariana Grande made a surprise appearance during her brother Frankie Grande’s virtual fundraiser for the Los Angeles LGBT Center on Thursday night.

“I want to send a hug and so much love to anybody who needs it and feels extra isolated,” the singer said during the two-hour Rainbowthon event.

The benefit also included appearances and performances by Kristin Chenoweth, Jewel, Deborah Cox, Shangela, Imogen Heap, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” judges Michelle Visage, Ross Mathews and Carson Kressley, Margaret Cho, Charles Jones, Alexandra Grey, Shoshana Bean and “Making the Cut” winner Jonny Cota.

“It was important to us from the very beginning that we kept our doors open for the clients who need to see us, people who really needed to know that we would be here for them,” the LGBT Center’s chief of staff Darrel Cummings said.

Cummings said that the center has been able to maintain the same level of services it was providing before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Although we want this pandemic and crisis to be over, it’s important that we’re staying safe right now and staying healthy and happy,” Gigi Gorgeous said. “I urge you to support the center tonight and donate when you can…I donated because I know even $1 could help someone going through a hard time right now — [someone] who’s stuck at home and can’t get support and love that they need, can’t get the meal that they need, can’t get treatment and can’t thrive and live their beautiful lives the way that they deserve to.”

The Rainbowthon also noted that the center’s annual AIDS Life Cycle bike ride has taken a big hit after it was cancelled this year. Organizers were expecting to raise $17 million, but have only brought in $7 million so far in the wake of COVID-19. The 545-mile ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles usually takes place between the last week of May and first week of June and benefits HIV/AIDS services at the LA center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

English comedian Miranda Hart provided some laughs when she bemoaned the number of celebrities who have been performing “Smile” during various COVID-19 relief benefits, including Patti LaPone, who sang the song during Rosie O’Donnell’s fundraiser for The Actor’s Fund. “I was shocked to see she was still alive,” Hart deadpanned. “I mourned her death years ago so she should not be singing anything in her condition. She should be resting.”

Hart went on to sing “Smile,” but didn’t finish because, she joked, it was “boring.”

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