Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Why We Need a Culture of Giving in the LGBT Community

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | March 02, 2011 12:30 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: LGBT organizations

The other day I put up a post entitled "Why You Shouldn't Donate To The National Stonewall Democrats."Bigspender.jpg

The title was tongue-in-cheek, designed to pique interest, and it did, but it also started a controversy in the comments section and on Facebook about why my title was a bad one.

Many people wanted to see "Why Shouldn't You Donate To The National Stonewall Democrats." And so it was. But a lot of people also noted that they would like to donate, but have really, really tight budgets. This got me thinking about our relationship to giving money in the LGBT community. I'm talking about the wider community, not just the people with lots of discretionary income and wealth.

Money = problems
Giving is problematic.
Being asked for money is like being asked to jump off a cliff

And yet, in the cruelest paradox of all, this shapes the very organizations that we count on to change the culture, to create a space for us to live, as overly-focused on money, money, money, give, give, give, now, now, now. And it makes us as resentful as any adolescent dependent on their parents yet despising them at the same time.

Change is needed. But how?

My sense of our community is that our relationship to money is problematic. It might have something to do with oppression -- it's not been easy for us to make it in a capitalist society that awards wealth on the basis of fitting in and adhering to a philosophy of wealth accumulation above our own, hard-won, personal identity.

It might have something to do with the contradiction that overcoming oppression always requires creating a unitary identity among a group, which has many other divisions and biases that need to be smoothed over in order to create the political representation necessary.

Whatever it has to do with, I don't think it's a controversial proposition that we do not have a culture of giving in the LGBT community. Or, perhaps more accurately stated, our culture of giving is a bit cramped, distorted away from the many and skewed towards the few with high incomes and wealth. And in order to have high income and wealth in our society, one largely needs to "fit in" with the wider culture. The transperson, the person of color, the low-income queer -- these are unlikely to become captains of industry in today's United States. It is the winners of the game -- the gender-conforming high-IQ white person of good breeding and education who works like the devil to make it -- who determine what our organizations are doing because they can afford to fund them and call the shots.

By this I do not mean to denigrate the hard work and dedication of those persons who have "made it." I only mean to call attention to the uneven level of the table and suggest a reason why we do not have a culture of giving in the wider LGBT community. I believe that the wider LGBT community perceives our organizations as divorced from themselves, partly because those organizations are, partly, divorced from the wider community because of social forces and power relations that are hidden, subtle, and destructive of unity.

But it is unnecessarily defeatist and unrealistic to cede the game, and suppose that the way-it-is can never be reshaped into the way-it-should-be. If that were the case, then there is no point in supporting any LGBT organization, because we would then have to concede that there can be no progress in LGBT rights, a proposition that is clearly wrong.

Projector Joe Mirabella commented that he wished he was a billionaire, so he could give a lot. I thank Joe for his virtuous dreams, but I wish to demur. It is not necessary to be a billionaire to sustain the many LGBT community organizations for which we have good wishes, but no cash. Frankly, I'm happy with my professor-on-a-professor's-salary lot in life. It is not necessary for us to be billionaires. What is necessary is that we give a dollar here and a dollar there, and that everybody does it consistently.

When I was growing up in the Jewish community in 1960's suburban New Jersey, with first-generation parents with few resources, there was a culture of giving pennies. I remember the square tin box, with a slot on the top, and the pictures of smiling Israelis and the map of Israel. Every day we put a penny in, and within a few months, there was a heavy box of coins that went to the Jewish National Fund, a charitable organization specializing in development of Israeli land and infrastructure, especially planting trees. It's still around, and thriving. It was built on pennies from millions of Jews around the world, many of whom felt that having a Jewish homeland was the only way to forestall another Nazi holocaust, a horror not far separated in time from my birth date. Whatever you may feel about Israel, and I won't explain my complicated feelings here as it would take a book, the fact is that Judaism has long had a culture of giving to the community, far more rich and devoted throughout the anti-semitic centuries than I can explain here, and those pennies in the "pushkah," as we called it in Yiddish, built the modern State of Israel.

Projector Yasmin Nair also got me thinking when she commented that there are a lot of worthy local orgs that need more even more than National Stonewall Democrats. She's totally right. Why did I write a post about the National Stonewall Democrats? Because of the fact that there was a crisis there. It was called to my immediate attention by the story, and by the fact that I know and like Michael Mitchell, and I responded. I also, miraculously, pulled out my credit card, normally reserved for the delicious trips to the bookstore and buying irresistible new clothes that tug on that card as surely as if it had strings. But why should crisis be the driver of giving? That rewards the squeakiest wheel, not necessarily the wheel most deserving.

I'd like to see a culture of giving permeate the LGBT community. But it's easier said than done. The truth is that most of us don't have $20 to give each organization whose work we value. I sat down to create a list of the organizations I'd like to support, and quickly came up with 20. That's $400! Darn, if I had $400 extra dollars to throw around, I need to get new tires, and I could really use a picture on that empty wall, and I should be putting more money away for retirement, and I have a few bills that are late, and I probably should pay down some of that credit card debt.

Then there's also the problem that giving in the modern era isn't easy. It's easy to pull out my credit card in the store, and give it to the clerk. They don't make me sit down and fill out an application. But when I went to give to NSD, I had to fill out my name, address, email address, telephone number, age, occupation, employer, and then that looong credit card number, which I got wrong twice, and the CSV or whatever that little number is on the back, and gosh knows what else. It took me like ten minutes! And then I went to another organization on my list, and now I didn't have the desire to give another $35, so I wanted to give a dollar, just to say thanks, keep up the good work, like I used to put pennies in the pushkah. But they don't take a dollar. The minimum contribution was $10 online. I could have written out a check for a dollar, and address an envelope, and put a stamp on it and brought it to the post office, like my grandmother used to do. She wrote a lot of checks for a dollar. But doing that 20 times is incredibly time-consuming. I'm running as fast as I can to keep up, and there's no time for writing out checks.

Organization after organization had $10, $15 or $20 limits, and long online application forms.

But the reason I want to give to non-profit organizations doing good work is the same reason I give my son $20 on those rare occasions when I get to see him at college -- it makes me feel good. He's a good kid, and he's doing well in school, and I remember when I was in college with no money, and my parents would shoot me a few bucks. It's for a good cause. It's a vote of confidence. Plus I might need someone to feed me my applesauce when I get feeble. And do I really need to order that General Tso's chicken from the local delivery joint? Better to have a salad.

Figuring out which organizations to support can be incredibly daunting, like the prisoner released after 20 years in jail, who finds it difficult to choose from among the hundreds of kinds of shampoo in a store, and who decides that perhaps shampoo isn't a necessity and they can use the bar soap already sitting there in the shower. There are thousands of non-profits out there doing work that I agree with. But I don't resonate with all of them. For example, there are microlending organizations in developing nations that are doing great work supporting local businesses in impoverished areas, particularly for women. I think that's great work. But I don't resonate with them that much. In my daily life, based on where I am now and what I am up to, I think most about LGBT and educational issues. It's not better than someone else's life, but it is mine, and that's what gets me out of bed in the morning feeling chipper and ready for another crack at this crazy thing called life.

My donating strategy is to decide which organizations I most resonate with, meaning their work makes me feel warm inside. That's different for everybody. I also rank them, because some make me feel warmer than others.

But there's still that pesky application to fill out. I thought, there's got to be a better way. And I found it, though it's not without its own problems.

Using PayPal To Donate

PayPal is amazing. It's easy and free to a href="http://paypal.com">sign up for an account. The downside is that they do have a small charge to send money, and they take about 4% off the top for donations. But it has Mass Payment function. Then you set up an excel spreadsheet with the email addresses and amounts you want. Directions are here. Setting it up takes some time, yes, but then you're free and clear. (If you want me to send you my excel spreadsheet, just shoot me an email and I'll send it along. You can edit it, of course, to put your own orgs in.)

Now, I was able to set up my list, and click once, and send my few bucks into the pushkah electronically.

Unfortunately, you can't do this with the political funds, because there's information they have to collect by federal law, and they're not set up to do it via Paypal. But I only give to two, so for them I bite the bullet and go to their website.

Gold Level

There's usually one organization that I most resonate with. That one's the gold standard for me. It's been different orgs at different times. Out of my $50, I'll give them $15.

My primary give right now is GetEqual. And now I get to tell you why, which is kind of fun. I resonate the most with GetEqual because I believe that direct action is absolutely necessary to the political climate we're in, if we are going to get any progress. I saw how the other orgs cozied up to the Administration and to Congress during the fight over ENDA, and it made me ill. I had some screaming arguments with executive directors and major donors over their dumbass strategy, and, while it's water under the bridge, and I forgive them (and hopefully they forgive me), I saw the light and its name was Direct Action. GetEqual is also the only organization of its kind. I felt so strongly about it that I joined the Board, spending more hours than I should working on it, and I'm fundraising for them. Here's my donation page. Would you please give me two dollars for direct action by clicking here? (Our website apparently can't take only a dollar. I'm working on that.)

It's not just the dollar. It's the vote of confidence that you're giving, to say rock on, and that means a lot to the people who are putting their shoulder to the wheel and sometimes wondering if this is really a good idea.

You may have a different organization in mind as your primary going-to-get-me-what-I-want. That's the beauty of this. We all have different ideas about how to get where we're going. And we can all do what we want.

Silver Level

Next, I give $5. Hey, I wish it could be $20. But I just got an email that "Your current billing statement for your Verizon wireless account is now available to view in My Verizon." Isn't that wonderful? Thank you for your thoughtfulness, Verizon. Now my cellphone is a cause I can believe in. I love my Droid. I'm not giving up my Droid for that Verizon iPhone just yet. But the bill is more than $5.

Nevertheless, my Silver level is for the political orgs, because I believe political representation is also essential to bring us to the promised land. It's better than relying on the fickle courts. Electing pro-equality representatives also has a ripple effect, because when the masses see their elected officials espousing the cause of LGBT equality, many being to realize that LGBT rights are important and a worthy cause, and their opinions begin to change. You may disagree, and I respect that. But this is my few shekels we're talking about here.

So I give $5 to National Stonewall Democrats, and the Victory Fund.I go to their websites to make the contribution, because they need certain information under federal law, and they're not set up to do that via PayPal.

I also give $5 to local orgs like the New York City-based Trans Legal & Education Fund, which does great work on trans rights, and Ali Forney Center for Homeless Youth, which takes homeless LGBT youth off the streets and teaches them how to live a successful life.A lot of those are trans youth. I get the email addresses from their contact pages.

Bronze Level

Lastly, there's the organizations that are doing work I want to see in my local area, that are doing work I like nationally and internationally, and those from which I have benefited educationally. So $1 goes to the following orgs that I was able to get contact info for.

Sylvia Rivera Law Project (They do excellent legal work on issues for trans low income people and people of color.)

Hudson Valley ARCS (Aids Related Community Services)

Audre Lorde Project (I used to live right down the street from them in Brooklyn - they do great work.)

Hudson Valley LOFT LGBT Center (I like their events.)

Manhattan LGBT Center (Sometimes I go to events here.)

Gay Pride Rockland (the name is regressive, but the organization's not, and it's a heck of a party at Pride.)

New York Civil Liberties Union (They do good work on trans issues.)

National Center for Transgender Equality

Task Force


Out & Equal




International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (The name is long enough as it is, and they do plenty work on trans rights.)

Sexual Minorities Uganda

Sometimes my budget's been $10, sometimes it's $5,000 (which it was, once, when I received a couple of big contracts). Not a problem -- simply multiply or divide. Right now I feel comfortable with a $250 annual budget.

Sometimes I can do my current budget twice in a year. When I can, I do. That way, I don't get into a situation where I've given more than I really should. Yes, all of these organizations I mentioned really should get $35 each, or $50 each, or $1000 each. But I can't do that and balance my budget.

One thing I found interesting is that, although I gave large donations to some organizations, thousands of dollars (and these were not large organizations), my large donations seemed to go as unappreciated as my small donations. So it really doesn't matter if I give a $1; they're just as happy. And if they don't want my two dollars? Too bad. Let them send it back.

There are some organizations I specifically don't donate to, although in some cases I have in the past. That's because I don't like how they've done things recently. I won't list them here, because it would just get me enmeshed in controversy with those organizations' supporter. I say, let them live and be well, and work hard for those organizations. Giving is not an obligation. It's an act of generosity, and generosity is something inside that can't be dictated.

There are some people who are struggling to pay the rent, who are in debt, and who really shouldn't give. I've been there, and I say take care of yourself first. But when you are in a position to give a dollar, give a dollar. If a dollar seems a ridiculous amount to give, it's not. It's a vote for the work of the organization, and the more people that give a dollar, the more that organization will thrive (if managed well -- if I think they're not managed well, no donation).

What's your giving strategy, or what would you like it to be?

What organizations haven't I mentioned that I and others should consider (and tell us why). Feel free to put a link in to the org so we can give if we resonate to what they're doing. No two dollars will be refused, trust me.

But more broadly, what do you think of our culture of giving in the LGBT community? Why do you think it is the way that it is. How can it be opened up to the masses? How do we create the type of advocacy culture that we want, instead of complaining about the one we have?

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LGBT folks give to charity at a far lower rates than the general pubic. I remember that from Grant-Writing School. Remembering the utter lack of support for the Bear History Project, I find it VERY easy to believe.

Good point, Les. Why do you think that is?

Thank you for this post! I couldn't agree more about the culture and planning our giving.

I'd like to add that in my world, since I'm very political but come from an activist background the way I keep it straight is to; give to issues and causes in odd numbered years and political campaigns in even numbered.

Some organizations transcend that and I'll do a small monthly re-occuring donation (roughly that of one Happy hour a month). I give 3 glasses of wine ($25) a month to National Stonewall and two glasses of wine ($15) to Young Democrats of Georgia. It adds up and is a bit easier on my budget.

Oh yeah no organization is going to get rich offa me this way-but if about 100 of us do this, they can comfortably budget monthly, without having to live off of big fundraisers and expensive staff time sucks chasing a one time donation.

I also find that my commitment is valued by the orgs and their leadership. This affords me a relationship with them, and a opportunity to monitor their behavior and decisions. Anyone heading off a cliff w/policy stuff gets cut off.

Again, thank you for your leadership. I look forward to reading more of your work!

Cindy Rizzo | March 2, 2011 1:25 PM


Thanks for this. It's a great discussion especially given the MAP data that came out today (www.lgbtmap.org).

I like the 3 tiers you created (gold, silver, bronze). I do a similar thing but with amounts.

I think filling out a form is only one small barrier, and not really the most important, imo. What stops people from giving (and not just in the LGBT community) is a lack of credible info on the effectiveness of organizations--who is doing the most good for our community and who is best positioned to use the money well. This is no longer viewed as just a matter of looking at operating vs program expenses, it's now a matter of outcomes. Which organization has had the greatest impact?

If we could have that kind of information available and market it well, and create the same culture of giving that you grew up with, then I think we could move this forward.

Cindy, thank you so much for pointing me to the 2010 National LGBT Movement Report of the Movement Advancement Project. It notes that 2010 budget estimates are down 18% from 2009, and that orgs are faring relatively well at retaining smaller donors, but are losing larger donors ($1,000+) right and left. Nonetheless, LGBT social justice advocacy is a good bargain, as evidenced by their efficiency, with an average of 79% of expenses spent on programs and services, 9% on management and general expenses, and only 12% on fundraising.

Obviously, smaller donors can make a bigger difference in this environment!

The whole report is here, well worth a read.

Thanks for your thoughts Julianai. I love your idea of donating a glass of wine!

Christopher Massicotte | March 2, 2011 3:26 PM

This is a fantastic piece. As a white guy who has sorta made it (but not conformed!), it has helped me understand where others are coming from, and how to encourage them to "get in the game". I budget my LGBT giving at 2% of my take home dollars. How great would it be if we could get participation up to 25 or even 50% of the LGBT community? Money is the most important thing in the movement right now. It pays the salaries of those who work day in and day out to either elect candidates supportive of Equality, or tirelessly lobby those elected officials on behalf of our community. I would love to start a campaign of LGBT giving called "Throw in your two cents". I have come across a number of well meaning activists who have never donated their money to the movement. How about while giving us your two cents... you give the community... two cents?

I've always been a "money" person when it comes to the LGBT movement, and I'm so thankful for this post. So much that I'm going to give $2 to GetEqual - not because I support everything that they do... but because you asked!

Thanks Dr. Weiss!

P.S. As someone who was close to National Stonewall Democrats... I can tell you that your post on giving raised well over $1,000! That's real money!

Christopher, thanks so much for your input as a "money person." :) I'm glad to hear that National Stonewall Democrats heard from the community with a vote of confidence, though I wish it could have been more. But as I said, even pennies can build a movement if enough of them come often enough.

Christopher Massicotte | March 3, 2011 9:09 AM

I forgot to give to GetEqual! So I just did.

It is a lot easier to give to political orgs when you aren't desperately trying to save up for $50,000 worth of medical treatment that is excluded from insurance coverage.

I didn't only talk about political orgs. I also talked about non-profit orgs. Everyone can give, even if it's only a penny.

Desiree you might not have noticed but organizations like NGLTF and NCTE are trying to eliminate the word transsexual in favor of solely pushing use of the word transgender. They have gone so far as to refer to SRS as transgender surgery in the media.Transgender is an umbrella term only transsexuals need SRS.How do you think them pushing the use of the word transgender and a survey that says your more likely to commit suicide if you have transgender surgery is going to help you get the insurance coverage I'm sure you desperately need and want.If there is any validity to their claim that post-ops have a higher suicide rate it is because of the confusion they are causing over who is actually TS and who is actually TG and who really needs the surgery.The vast majority of research I've looked at says the overall satisfaction rate and suicide rates are greatly improved for post-op TS's over pre-op ones.Now some people would love to argue and point fingers and say those who think like me are trying to close the door on surgery to them. I say look at your damn survey and your actions then look in the mirror and say yeah it's me trying to close that door on surgery for everyone by pushing an umbrella term instead of pushing it only for those who really need it.

Thank you, amym, for your thoughts. I would like to try to keep us on the topic of creating a culture of charitable giving in the LGBT community. I thank you for your points about the important difference between transsexual and transgender identities, and the importance of not pushing them on unwilling subjects. Agreed.

Jillian and thank you for your polite response.I would love to whole heartedly support the LGB(T?) community. But to who do I direct my time and money that supports all, but recognizes and appreciates the differences between being TS, TG and a child with gid and their individual needs without causing undo confusion and harm? I know from what I've seen that NGLTF and NCTE are unworthy of my efforts or funds are there any organizations that still seperate TS,TG and kids with gid? and if there isn't would you support one that does?

I used to give to several GLB(T?) orgs, but once I realized that I am not really welcome in the LG community, I stopped. Really, none of it is my fight anymore, I have everything I need--I am legally a woman, I am already married from before I transitioned, I work at a stable company where I won't get fired for being trans or gay (though noone sees me as gay, b/c I transitioned there and they all know my history, or if they came in the last couple of years, have been told, so they all see me as a weird guy, and not a lesbian).

I have found that I really don't fit in the lesbian communities, though I do participate in the GLB(T?) group at work, and am getting involved with queer youth, so I don't have a lot of identification with that community.

How do you feel about this? I am happy to be convinced I am wrong. :)

I used to volunteer and give money to the lgb(T?) community until I realized it doesn't respect my right to solely identify as Transsexual.Umbrella terms are great as long as only T people are stuffed under them. I'll consider donating my time and money again when one of two things happen. First the easy one removing transsexuals out from under the umbrella and quit calling SRS transgender surgery it shows how ignorant and disrespectful of Transsexuals the lgbtg community is of all transsexuals gay and straight identified (that includes TS's that call themselves Transgender).Second drop the lgb and make them all T there is scientific evidence that suggests it is most like true anyways ( MRI scans showing opposite sex brain structure), but still quit calling it transgender surgery your scaring the LGB's out from under the umbrella they made.

I'm sorry you had bad experiences, amym. There is a lot of work to be done. I believe it will happen, though there will always be a lag between personal and political identities. I suspect by the time you and I are sitting in our rocking chairs, we'll be shaking our heads at the young people with their new-fangled words and their angry denunciations of the oldsters who insist on calling them by the old names.

Amy, the way I see it is that transgender and transsexual are separate categories -- transgender refers to non-traditional gender role, transsexual refers to a mismatch between gender identity and natal genitalia. The categories only overlap isofar as some people are *both* transgender and transsexual, but remain distinct in definition.

In other words, I'm not transgender because I'm transsexual; I'm transgender because I'm transgender, and transsexual because I'm transsexual.

I understand your feelings, Carol. I feel much more welcome in the gay and lesbian community than I once did. I had a lot of concerns about fitting into the lesbian community.

My experience at my synagogue, which used to be a gay synagogue but is now an LGBT synagogue, has changed radically over the past decade. While some lesbians were confused by me, others have been very welcoming, and I met a wonderful woman there with whom I had a 5 year relationship and we are still good friends. We still laugh about my telling her I didn't identify as a lesbian, because I was afraid of being accused of colonizing lesbian experience, and her crestfallen look. While there are still people in the lesbian and gay community who are living in the Mezozoic era, I have found that most now are pretty hip to understanding a wide range of identities, including mine, as being part of their community.

I also feel that, though I could go stealth, I don't want to because I want young people not to have to go through the types of horrible experiences during transition that were the norm in the past. In addition, not everyone can pass, or wants to, and they shouldn't have to. They should be respected for who they are.

My experience with the gay community over the past several years have been much more positive than in the past, and I feel a strong sense of identity and community. This is partly due to my inserting myself into the political arena, despite my academic misgivings, and getting to know more gay people. As a result, I now give to gay organizations and hope to create change, however much or little, from the inside. I recognize that many trans people have not yet had these positive experiences with the gay community, but I believe strongly that must and will change.

If an organization is LGB(t) in nature, and you have concerns, by all means don't give. But organizations that are radically inclusive of trans identities and concerns, like GetEqual and the Task Force, just to name two, they deserve our support. Even if it's only a dollar a month.

Jillian what do you think being forced to be associated with the gay community does for heterosexual identified twoman? I see the NGTLF as pushing a negative agenda and trying to shove a word that is overused and misinterpretted over all T heads. I predict by the time we're old and gray NGLTF and NCTE will have been called to task and will no longer be allowed to use the word transgender. The young people I know are surprised by what they didn't know when they're shown it. Do I think all LGB people are bad absolutely not but those who think they have a right to speak for me or other heterosexual identified T's are wrong.How many parents of young kids that they call transgender do you think have thought any of this through. They may know for sure their kid has a GID but they don't know what that kids sexual orientation is going to be.The word transgender and its use by the gay community is pushing all those kids into the lgb(t?) community without allowing them the choice.Don't you find it at least a little disturbing? I see it as the same as performing surgery on an interrsex child before they're old enough to understand.The day is coming when LGBTG people are going to find themselves faced in politics and schools by T people and parents of GID kids who don't agree with their agenda. I for one plan on starting to lobby groups that cater to parents of GID kids, legislatures, schools and other T people to bring limitations on the use of the word transgender.

Jillian, thanks for your well-reasoned response!

I do have a couple of different perspectives on some of your points, but they aren't related to donating, so I will keep them to myself.

Carol :)

I spend too much money on coffee... maybe I can make coffee at home and give that $1.85 I didn't spend to charity? That's $12.95 a week! $155 a year!

I recommend Bustelo, an excellent and very inexpensive Mexican coffee. 1/4 the price of Starbucks and every bit as good.

Great post, Jillian. You're right - we don't have a culture of giving, especially when compared to religious communities (Mormons tithe 10%, and they're serious about that).

I agree with Cindy too about the problem with some of these orgs wasting money so it makes it hard to want to donate to them. When that 7-year-old sent $70 to HRC, my first thought was, "Oh isn't that nice. Joe can buy a third of a tie now." Or with GetEqual: Does a woman with a 90K income really need to take my $20 when I'm applying for welfare here?

And if the point of giving is to have a voice in these organizations, good luck trying. They appreciate all donations, but certain donations they appreciate more.

At the same time, there's lots of work that should be supported and I do support as much as I can (especially people in independent media). But the big nonprofits don't strike me as all that deserving, and lots of people, when they think of charity, think of the big nonprofits.

I don't want to crush anyone's charitable impulses, but there are people out there willing to take advantage of those impulses. Folks should be careful is all.

Good point, Alex, we should give to organizations we value. If independent media is your thing, I support you 100%. If someone likes GetEqual (or me), I support that too. As I point out on my GetEqual donation page,, I think we need direct action orgs to push for change, as well as orgs that do more traditional lobbying and impact litigation. Queer Rising is another direct action group that deserves support. They had a great action the other day in Manhattan.

What are some of the independent media groups you support?

beachcomberT | March 3, 2011 11:09 PM

Thank you, Dr. Weiss, for a thoughtful post. In these wretched political times, private, grassroots giving is going to be crucial for maintaining a safety net. Cities and state are running on empty, and the federal government chooses to waste money on Afghanistan and boosting profits for the pharmaceutical, health insurance and banking industries. My religious belief prods me to give away at least 10 percent of my income. Most of it goes to my tiny gay-affirming church, which pays its pastor less than minimum wage and everything else is done by volunteers. Because I sit on its board, I know personally that every dollar is stretched to the max, but we manage to help at least a few people with emergencies, like a rent or car payment. As for GLBT causes, I direct most of my donations locally but send occasional $10 or $20 gifts to Lambda Legal and the ACLU and a few others. People should use web sites like GuideStar or Charity Navigator to research national nonprofits. So why are gay people sub-par givers? I think the under-40 crowd tends to be caught up in conspicuous consumption -- designer clothes, sports cars, nightclubs, expensive vacations, etc. They think you have to throw around a lot of money to be an A-list gay. Fortunately age helps cure many of that delusion, but a certain percentage continue their Big Spender routines, hoping to impress the twinks.

I'm in agreement with everything you said, BeachcomberT. I can barely remember the last time I bought clothes. I definitely need a new suit. I'd much rather spend it on building the world I'd like to live in.