Alex Blaze

Connecting the dots

Filed By Alex Blaze | May 21, 2007 1:29 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: gay Republicans, Human Rights Campaign, LGBT homeless

Homelessness among queers, which results in starvation, exposure, disease, and puts people in a position where getting out of poverty is nearly impossible, has reached epidemic. proportions. Queer homelessness is a public policy problem because of discrimination at publicly-funded homeless shelters, in terms of hostility, rules, and outright rejection, as well as a private sector problem, caused by job discrimination and family rejection, that can be ameliorated with public policy. So putting those two together, one would think that "America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality" would be all over this, right? Well, that notorious one would be incorrect.

Searching all over the internet and on the HRC's webpage, I couldn't find anything about them working directly to solve this problem. It wasn't listed on their homepage as an "issue", nor could I find any project that they're working on related to homelessness except for their work towards the passage of the ENDA, although that's a long way from solving the root causes of queer youth homelessness or even job discrimination in general.

But the epidemic disease, hunger, exposure, indignity, and death of our people and our youth caused by queer homelessness is a whole lot more important than gays and lesbians not being allowed to kill Iraqis. Just sayin'.

So I'm thinking, could this lack of attention have anything to do with the fact that gay Republicans give most to the HRC when it comes to political donations? This is a problem that if we work towards solving it will cost money, which of course means taxes (or at least more responsible use of tax dollars). I honestly can't think of any other reason.

Because while conservatives worry that gays have taken over their political party, maybe we should consider the possibility that Republicans have taken over our political voice.

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A. J. Lopp | May 21, 2007 4:12 PM

Having helped friends who ended up in homeless shelters, I can authoritatively say that, unless one can "pass for straight," survival in some of these shelters is virtually impossible. Moreover, some of these shelters are run by fundamentalist Christian organizations, and it was only by an advanced talent of "mental compartmentalization" did one of my friends survive many months in such an environment. I worried about the "religion abuse" he was experiencing, but thankfully I think he emerged OK due to his own mental resilience.

As soon as I am in a financial position that the possibility of *my own* homelessness is assuredly a thing of the past, I would gladly like to work in this area to help the GLBT homeless. The need here is like a bottomless pit, and one has to armor oneself against the enormity of the need in order to remain functioning and effective.

A. J. Lopp | May 21, 2007 4:27 PM

Sorry, but I have more to say ...

Several years ago in Los Angeles, the GLBT and cross-dressing homeless came to hang out at "The Village" which is a property of the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center, and is in the heart of Hollywood, right between Sunset Blvd. and Hollywood Blvd. The presence of the homeless offended some of the wealthy contributors, who said (paraphrase) "We didn't give our serious contribution money just to end up having this!" Others on the Board of Directors were plugged into the seriousness of the GLBT homeless problem, and I gather that a rather incendiary struggle ensued as to whether the homeless would be helped or run back out into the streets.

I do not know exactly how this issue was resolved; but suffice it to say that the GLBT communities in many major cities have noticed this problem, but very few have addressed it effectively. After the heroic job the GLBT community has done facing the AIDS crisis, it is unfortunate that we can't focus ourselves on this problem nearly as well.

Thanks for this important discussion, Alex. Having been one of those homeless LGBTQ youth, I think I have a little insight on the situation. It's not just the HRC that's complicit in the epidemic of homelessness. I think ALL gay-stream LBGTQ organizations are at fault. Just another reason we shouldn't be squandering our limited resources on marriage equality legislation (IMHO, anyway).