Josh Hutcherson is inviting you to watch some celebrities “battle” each other in beach volleyball – all for a good cause.
The Hunger Games star is co-hosting the celebrity “Battle on the Beach” volleyball match with former NFL star Terrell Owens on August 28 in Long Beach, Calif. The event is part of the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball and will benefit the LGBT ally organization Straight But Not Narrow, which Hutcherson co-founded in 2011.
“I’m excited,” Hutcherson tells PEOPLE of the event. “It’s my group vs. Terrell Owens’ group. What’s great about TO, there’s a lot of homophobia in team sports, so to have a Hall of Famer like him come out in support of this is massive.”
Fans interested in watching Hutcherson’s team battle Owens’ at 12:15 p.m. PT on Sunday can attend the free festivities in Long Beach on a first come, first served basis, but the space fills up quickly. In addition to the volleyball game, fans can attend a special performance by DJ Thomas Jack on Saturday August 27 at 6 p.m. PT. The first 100 people to bring electronics to the event that night will gain VIP access to the concert. For more information, visit the website here.
“It’s a really fun event all around,” says Hutcherson. “A lot of great volleyball players will be there, there’s great music, Thomas Jack will be there, and it’s really about making it comfortable and fun for everyone to hang out and have a good time, while also getting some press coverage to get the word out and bring out people to support the cause.”
That cause is Hutcherson’s organization Straight But Not Narrow (SBNN), which prepares and trains young adults on how to become allies of their LGBTQ peers. It’s an issue very close to the actor’s heart.
“My family had very close family members who passed away of AIDS in the ’90s, so equality and supporting the LGBTQ community has always been a big thing for us,” says Hutcherson. “For me as a straight white male, it felt like there weren’t a lot of organizations geared towards bridging the gap between the gay and straight communities and bringing them together. I wanted to start an organization where we could talk about the importance of being a straight ally to the LGBTQ community and make it a place where people felt comfortable in their own sexuality to come out and say they support these communities and try to bridge the gap in understanding.”
Hutcherson and SBNN hope to raise funds to take their message to young people all over the country.
“We really want to do a bus tour,” he says. “Go around the States, visit a bunch of schools. Every donation is going to be going towards trying to make that a reality.
Our goal is really to get into schools and to be able to talk to young people. It’s very challenging with school boards to get information and things that surround this so-called taboo issue into schools where they really need it.”
For more information about Straight But Not Narrow, visit the organization’s website. For more information about the “Battle on the Beach” on August 28, visit the World Series of Beach Volleyball website.