Waymon Hudson

Let's Talk Stimulation: The Economy & the LGBTQ Community

Filed By Waymon Hudson | February 10, 2009 4:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Living, Living, Politics, Politics, The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: economic crisis, health care reform, nonprofits, scholarships, stimulus package, stimulus plan

We have lots of issues facing us as a community. They are all extremely important (I'm not one to make grand "this is the number one issue facing LGBTQ folks" statements). But one that seems to not get included in the mix very often is something that impacts our community harder than most-

It's the economy, stupid.

Perhaps it is the idea that many (including those in our own community) have that we are all well-to-do, comfortably situated people who may have to tighten our Gucci belts and not buy that third home in Palm Springs. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. The economic meltdown is effecting everyone, but the LGBTQ community has unique challenges during these times.

All around me, my friends in the community are in a state of shock and panic as the economy collapses. Jobs, services, homes, healthcare- all things that many already struggled for in the LGBTQ world- are disappearing at a rapid pace.

Let's face it, we all need some serious stimulation.

While it may not make the cover of the gay magazines, our community is in crisis. The whole country is getting hit hard, but people who are already on the receiving end of economic disadvantages and discrimination are barely scraping by.

Take, for example, the conversation I had with one of my friends who is going through the early stages of her transition. Nearly in tears, she told me that while she was happy she was finally on the path she knew she belonged, she didn't know if she could survive to complete it:

What chance do I have in getting another job after losing mine because I started my transition? Wall Street businessmen with master's degrees aren't able to find a job. Try being a trans woman trying to get a second interview.

It's the same all around. People who lose jobs from discrimination then see that same attitude keeping them from getting work again.

And healthcare, if they can even afford to keep paying for COBRA or some other horrendously expensive version of insurance, runs out with the unemployment benefits. Even if the person has a significant other, shared benefits are impossible to come by in many states with no relationship recognition.

The crumbling economy also leaves our community with nowhere to turn as non-profits and other service providers have to cut programs or shut their doors. Everything from food banks to support groups are turning LGBTQ people away because they just can't survive in this economic climate.

It's not just those in the workforce that are seeing the economy destroy their lives. Many of my friends in college are seeing financial aid dry up. The credit crisis is cutting off student loans. Schools are slashing grants. The life blood of many of these LGBTQ young people is disappearing:

School was my only chance to get away. My parents disowned me when I came out and don't offer any support for school and I know I won't survive in the town I'm from. I don't know how I'm going to do it.

We are in a crisis. Our community is facing some of their darkest times on many fronts. Yet because it doesn't fit into the the overarching "gay agenda", we see little or no talk about it. Even worse, by not recognizing it, we can't begin to ease the effects on those affected in our community.

So let's keep fighting, marching, and organizing for our rights. But let's also make sure we are working together, as a community, to ease the devastation of the economic crisis.

A little LGBTQ stimulation may go a long way.


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DanaRSullivan | February 10, 2009 4:40 PM

Thanks for this! Also thanks for acknowledging that passing ENDA and repealing DOMA are necessary for financial stability for many people, and that there are other things on the table as well.

That's why I'm not a "this should be the number one issue" type-person. There are lots of ways to help our community, but we have to recognize the underlying effect the economic meltdown is having on LGBTQ people.

steve tabarez | February 10, 2009 7:34 PM

I too deplore these arguments of which right is more important and should take precedence over the other as noted in another discussion here on BP. I advocate a unified, concerted, directed approach to full civil rights under THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT. First, because an incremental approach just doesn't work. The gains have been marginal at best and does not address that until recognized, all gains are temporary, as California showed us. Why is it relevant to this discussion? Money. The waste of it as we fight the same fights over and over. And in each of the segmented rights we fight for, seperate organizations spending money and hiring staffers, employing different strategies for a single right, that rightly could, and would be covered under the the CIVIL RIGHTS ACT. We call that duplication of efforts, duplication of service, and dysfunctional and disparate means of achieving a a incohesive, ununified goal. WASTE. The money that could be saved by unifying our seperate rights causes into a unified, singleness of purpose could free up money and people to address the concerns u cite. And get rid of the ones that don't do what they say they do as cited in the post by Patricia Nell Warren last week. Economic necessity should compel us to think about it.

Amen! Amen! STEVE - and I ain't a religious dude.

Who in their RIGHT MIND will continue donating money to purchase "Good P.R." in order to GAMBLE for EQUALITY?

The saddest (sickest?) part of it all?

We placed a vote on family rights right next to votes on property taxes, school levies, and H.O.V. lane issues.

We ALLOWED a vote on our family and children's legal worth. Self-esteem issues, anyone?

steve tabarez | February 10, 2009 7:35 PM

I too deplore these arguments of which right is more important and should take precedence over the other as noted in another discussion here on BP. I advocate a unified, concerted, directed approach to full civil rights under THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT. First, because an incremental approach just doesn't work. The gains have been marginal at best and does not address that until recognized, all gains are temporary, as California showed us. Why is it relevant to this discussion? Money. The waste of it as we fight the same fights over and over. And in each of the segmented rights we fight for, seperate organizations spending money and hiring staffers, employing different strategies for a single right, that rightly could, and would be covered under the the CIVIL RIGHTS ACT. We call that duplication of efforts, duplication of service, and dysfunctional and disparate means of achieving a a incohesive, ununified goal. WASTE. The money that could be saved by unifying our seperate rights causes into a unified, singleness of purpose could free up money and people to address the concerns u cite. And get rid of the ones that don't do what they say they do as cited in the post by Patricia Nell Warren last week. Economic necessity should compel us to think about it.

I plan to do everything possible to help The Obamatron. He's the first African American President, and it's critical that he succeeds, for the nation and for the moral strength of liberalism.
I'm going back to taking the bus to work, and thinking about how to spend strategically on industries I want to strengthen. I'm doing research on socially responsible and green industries. If anyone has an idea about this, I'm all ears. Buying American should help. In the past, I didn't care because so many American industries were corrupt, like the auto industry building gas hogs to fatten the oil industry. But now it's crucial to buy American, and give to liberal charities. Things could get pretty bad, and we need to take care of the unfortunate.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | February 10, 2009 11:14 PM

Thank you Waymon,

I just hope we do not overly "buy in" to being in despair. The majority of employment comes from small business and industry and this may be a time to consider cooperative ventures with many GLBT persons forming their own businesses. This could be done individually or in groups. You know your capabilities: I don't care if it is dog grooming, computer services, house cleaning, house painting, carpentry, gardening, or any service industry. If you have skills and are ready to work, pool them with people who will not discriminate against you. Empower yourself, be prepared to sacrifice, and all will be well.

And Wilber, "buying American" would sink us. We need to export and must remember the Chinese are holding a billion in our government debt already. Best not to be nationalistic, it would hurt us. Better to concentrate on developing green industries and remember, it was individual greedy Americans who wanted the oversize SUV's, Our "big three" turned a blind eye to the best hybrid technology until it was forced upon them. We have a lot of catching up to do IF there is to be an American car manufacturer left in fifteen years.

Waymon
As much as I want to do all I can to help fix the economy my civil rights as an equal citizen guaranteed by the U.S. constitution comes first. It's LGBT liberty or death. Obama is not going to push for a civil rights bill for us. In fact, he is perceiving the economy getting worse and setting up "faith based" initiatives to feed the masses at churches with kitchens. Straight lawmakers laughed when we mentioned that same-sex marriage can add to state and Federal revenue contrary to evidence from the Congressional Budget office, the state of Calfornia and MA.
People in political power are too arrogant and greedy. No one has the answers to fix the economy and with nuclear war in the middle east a possibility, get ready for the worst possible scenario.
President Obama on our rights as follows :

http://www.advocate.com/exclusive_detail_ektid53285.asp

Everyday Transperson | February 11, 2009 6:27 PM

Waymon,

Yes, we can talk till we are blue in the face about the horrible economy and how much our "community" is in crisis, but no matter how bad things get for GLBT folks there always seems to be fancy conventions and dinners held at fancy hotels and our GLBT "Leaders" still live it up don't they ???? (the historically straight corporate model, yet now those folks are starting to be held accountable, not our GLBT folks though............(ironic)) Funny how no one posts a blog about this hypocrisy or for the GLBT "elitists" to start giving back to our own to help ease this crisis at home.

How many folks at that "Creating Change" convention in Denver last month stood up and spoke strongly on the very issues you raise ??? I didn't think so....... Most seem too busy in schmoozing with A-list concierges and setting lobbyist appointments with politicians to get involved with what is REALLY going on !!!

So Waymon, its one thing to bring real economic issues to the surface, but it is quite another to actually practice it with others who don't practice what they preach........... (nothing personal, just trying to make a point)

Thank you for your time.

Actually, economic justice was a huge issue at Creating Change and had many heated discussions, much like what goes on here.

As for making words into action, remember that this is a blog- a place of words. Action is happening (at least in my community in South Florida) as many of us work to connect the dots between race, economics, and LGBT issues.

I obviously can't speak for anyone but myself, but I know that a lot of the issues I bring up are to make people think, discuss and then act in their own lives.

steve tabarez | February 11, 2009 8:39 PM

Everyday Transperson, in many ways Im with you on that. It is a real issue, especially given the economy. And noone seems to want to talk about it, or go on record. I was going to do piece on that, and had 3 attendees lined up. They a, had the same concerns: cost of projectors(speakers,session leaders), cost of housing, the lack of people who weren't professionals in the movement, the over emphasis of bloggers and technology, the catering to donors, the cost of making it a pageant rather than hands on workshops to combat the isms, and the lack of any final product to take with them as a handbook to use on the FRONTLINES. They also felt that the poor and working class of the LGBTQ communities were intentionally left out so to make the donating class comfortable. Sadly, tho committing to talk to me further, OFF THE RECORD, they all backed off. All told me initially they were reluctant for fear of what the others would say. There went my piece. It should be talked about. And looked at.

Everyday Transperson | February 11, 2009 9:27 PM

Steve,

Thanks so much for sharing this. I am sure your experience was only the tip of the iceberg about what is going on............ I applaud your efforts to speak openly about this.

steve tabarez | February 11, 2009 11:07 PM

No, thank you Everyday Transperson. You are one a few who speak up for the common folks in our communities. So do I. And it ain't always doing it. I take my share of hits for it, but they can't say anything 2 me that straight people haven't said to me before. I would like to talk 2 u further as I think u have alot to say. I also have an intro piece on another site coming out on Sat., and think u might be able to appreciate my take on things. E-mail: st.keepinitreal@gmail.com I want ur take on things too. STEVE

steve tabarez | February 11, 2009 9:48 PM

Here's an idea. I think that beginning with next years conference in Dallas, that exactly one third of available slots should be available at no cost to the poor and working class LGBTQ'S. With exactly one half of those going to residents of the host city/state. With lodging and transport paid by the National Organizations. And to ensure they go where intended, that would mean no aides, no interns, no trainees, or assistants to anyone working, lobbying, or fundraising for any sponsoring org. or agency, or for any political party, or government agency. That would also include any members of any student/college organization whose groups gets funding from their colleges for activities and discretionary use. Preference given to the actual users of the services/charities that get charity funding from the national organizations. Whataya think folks?

That's a great idea, I think.

But to play devil advocate- if it is a training type situation, what will reach more people- teaching the people who use the service or teaching those who provide the service so they can further spread what they learn? It's a hard line to decide.

I don't have all the answers by any means and I think you and Everyday T have lots of good ideas. I just think there might be a middle ground we are all missing.

steve tabarez | February 13, 2009 5:07 PM

Well, I woul hope that one might not need training to attend a conference. The idea is to get the focus off of being/becoming an insular entity. To not be a structurally corporately cultured entity, that self perpetuates itself. Remember, eventually, if the groups do their jobs, they will be the temporary organiztions they were designed to be. And, cease to be the career launching pad they have become. That wasn't the purpose. The inclusion of the one third I propose would also serve to keep the focus on the ones on the frontlines. The examples of which they were created to help. I think that also helps the the ones who recieve the services to carry on the message and the services.

I think that's a great idea and theory (the orgs being temporary because the problems get fixed), but I'm not sure how realistic it is. I don't ever forsee a day when the world is magically better and there is no need for groups to provide services to economically disadvtaged people or thiose that are discriminated against.

My other thought, off the top of my head, would be how to reach the most people and be the most effective as a means of spreading ideas and action throughout various communities. As much as people decry the "big money" of major orgs, the money isn't unlimited and can be spread pretty thin, I'm sure.

I'm just trying to figure out how to best spend the money, resources, and time to effect the most people. In a perfect world, realistic ideas like that wouldn't be a consideration and we could get everyone involved or hold mini-sessions around the country. I'm just not sure how it's possible.

steve tabarez | February 13, 2009 6:39 PM

Well, tone aside, I think you kno I am not the starry -eyed idealist, that doesn't kno the realities of how things work. I am merely stating because of the breadth, and the depth of my real life experience that things like I proposed can be done, and can work. Constant review of missions, goals, objectives, and targets are a must to keep any entity true to it's core mission. And especially with organizations that live off other peoples money. It sometimes means merging, collectively pooling resources and people, and definitely requiring themselves to cap the amount they spend on management, overhead, and discretionary spending. By design, orgs. who soley do fundraising do so so they don't have to. That is why to alot of major LGBTQ orgs. donations are not tax deductible. Most fundraising orgs. are designed to perpetuate themselves, and many spend more of the money raised on themselves than on the causes they support. And the pursuit of money ends up taking precedence over the causes they support. That also usually means donors end up dictating what counts. Im not sure thats the way.

Constant review of missions, goals, objectives, and targets are a must to keep any entity true to it's core mission.

I couldn't agree more. I think we have to ask questions, challenge, and make adjustments.

As I've said before, however, I don't feel the Task Force is a donor run, solely fundraising org. In fact, I know they have lost donors because of some of the social, racial, and economic justice work they do. I've also seen their effectiveness in simply supporting local orgs to do the work needed in communitites instead taking over, like many other groups do.

I think we have to be careful at painting all groups with one large stroke.

Everyday Transperson | February 14, 2009 9:23 PM

Waymon,

I thought long and hard about posting a detailed response concerning new ideas and perspectives on this issue, but I've really lost all hope at this point that they would do any good really........

I am a realist, and as such I tend to observe things closely and see things for what they are.

If you notice, each time this subject is brought out into the open for discussion on here, the only people who seem interested in establishing an open and honest dialogue about it are you, Steve and I. And all we receive from the "broader" GLBT audience is silent crickets in the night..........The rest of the "popular" participants on this blog, well, most appear to only be interested in kissing each other's asses and supporting corporate America and lobbyists than actually attempting some kind of change. And why should they really ???? The current system works for THEM, so why screw up a good thing, right ???

And, sorry to say, but the idea of "challenging" status quo ideas has been proven time and again NOT to work. Perhaps you are not aware, but people are ruined and kicked to the curb in the GLBT community for "challenging" those "leaders" in power. Why ???? because like straight corporate and political America, our community organizations are a sea of corruption and what better way to cover it up than to get rid of (oops, subtly weed out.........we have to be "politically correct" here) those problem people who threaten it and/or know too much. Trust me, that article I referenced earlier doesn't just occur within the city mentioned, it is a GLBT national phenomenon...........Please re-read the article again and get the meaning of what is going on.

So Waymon, you and I and Steve can bring forth good ideas here, but how far will they go in the REAL GLBT world. Knowing the current system, either the ideas get quickly ridiculed by the crporate / political elitists or some opportunistic "leader" will take the ideas and run with them and take all the credit themselves. Either way, none of us will ever get invited to present our ideas, let alone get credit for them. So what's the point ???

Lastly, it is so easy to speak about disenfranchised people from an outside experience. I propose this Waymon: (and I'm being totally serious here)

Take a few days out of your schedule and park your car. Save maybe $5, if that, put away all of your credit and debit cards. Leave the cell phone and the computer at home. Bring no change of clothes. Put yourself in the heart of the disenfranchised GLBT community, talk to the people who are homeless, who live on one can of donated ravioli for a few days, who have nothing but the clothes on their back and a small shopping bag with all they own. Talk to the people living with AIDS and hear about them count the days until death because they are too poor to get medicine. Have a chat with the boys and girls who prostitute themselves or who deal in drugs because they have given up all hope that anyone will ever give them a chance at a legitimate job and this is the only way they know how to survive. Stay out till the wee hours of the morning on the street and try to figure out where you will sleep with no money and no credit and pray that the weather works in your favor. Try going to a GLBT community center and be turned away because you either "challenged" the wrong people who work there or because their budget wouldn't allow for a program you need and then see one of the center's "Executive Directors" pull up in a Lexus and boast how much money they received at Black Tie. Oh, not to mention that he or she earns close to a six figure income................

Then and ONLY then do I feel that you and other convention goers have the right to speak for disenfranchised GLBT people at those events. Walk a mile in their shoes, live the disenfranchised life for a few days, feel firsthand the desperation, the fear and the hopelessness that being disenfranchsed has to offer, feel the exclusion and the exploitation of the GLBT elitists and THEN post an article about realistic theory.

I really didn't intend such a long response, but I really don't feel like this discussion is headed towards any kind of awareness or tangible change but just a dialogue among three folks who just happen to take part in an honest dialogue about a critical subject in our community.......

Again, I don't think further ideas or perspectives on my behalf would serve any useful purpose. Re-read the referenced article, take the "field trip" and THEN speak more on the subject of the disenfranchised GLBT community (aka the A-List gays/lesbians, and a few token trans folks vs. the rest of us, who in so many words they tell us to go screw ourselves.

Thank you for your time.

I'm a bit confused- we seem to agree on most things we are saying to each other, but then you seem to go after me talking about issues of disenfranchisement (it is so hard to tell tone and meaning on blogs/comments sometimes).

I never claimed to speak for anyone other than myself and my experience (which, by the way, is something you might be surprised about- my background and life are not what you apparently think they are. I've lived that "feild trip").

I just am unsure of the problem of writing about an issue you obviously care about and (it would seem) mostly agree with. I appreciate your ideas and comments and think that is what spaces like this are for.

Everyday Transperson | February 12, 2009 12:31 PM

Steve,

Thanks for the link and I will connect with you soon.

Concerning the conference next year, you might want to research a little bit of GLBT history of the city you mention before you seriously consider your proposal there, because those Dallas GLBT A-List corporate / political airline worshipping "activists" will eat you alive when they discover such a proposal is in the making........... Have a look at this article, it might be of help:

http://www.dmagazine.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=&nm=&type=MultiPublishing&mod=PublishingTitles&mid=7155F7796F354F21B1183937D847D6DF&tier=4&id=62B9259DBF29479CB8D12F2271598CA8

Trust me, this is a REAL phenomenon, with REAL people involved and REAL GLBT people who have been totally ruined by this underground "elitist" system. The problem is, these "untouchables" have too much money and "influence" (muscle) and have networks with everyone in the non-profit sector and also with local law enforcement to be exposed or stopped. ANYONE who threatens or exposes this system is quickly and effectively filtered out...... Oh and did I mention that many are corporate big wigs who have no problem showing everyone how they have finally "arrived" in mainstream corporate America as gay men and women.............

So Steve, please be careful because GLBT non-profits and business "Leaders" and the individuals associated with them are often not what they appear to be on the outside, especially in the above named town.

Thank you for your time.

steve tabarez | February 12, 2009 1:32 PM

Thanks, will take a look at it, though I know TX. And that area especially as I was born just SW of Dallas, and moved back for a short while a few years ago.I moved back to MI!!! I have familyin DFW area, including a lesbian cousin and her wife. As for my idea, altho a good one, I kno that it is too good an idea to ever be taken seriously. Not by just the leadership of the National Orgs., but also by many who post and visit this site regularly. Both on many levels, lack the vision, the foresight, the grit or determination to actually question themselves, or the orgs. about the need to re-tool, and change the focus of these orgs. In many ways, their focus on fundraising means that many get left out, and left behind. Both ideas i posted here are valid. With the economy worsening,the examples Waymon cited are sure to get worse. AND, the national orgs. should be compelled to do their part. Email me, Everyday Transperson.

steve tabarez | February 12, 2009 5:02 PM

Thanks so much for forwarding that article to me, Everyday Transperson. I had heard of them b4, and also kno that info on them is scarce since they do alot under the radar, Im told. And they have that old, texas oil man postu1 of : if they contribute, they run it. I'm sure they had a big part in getting next years convention held there. They definitely want to move things from activism towards money buys all. They definitely aren't gonna lookout for everyday people.

steve tabarez | February 13, 2009 12:10 PM

Thanks, John Bisceglia. Recieved some e-mails with url to your blog. Seems u must have had a really slow day to post some of my comments from this discussion. It's good to know that at least someone is at least, paying attention, and listening. Or has the conviction to publicly acknowledge that they may even agree. Especially agreeing with those that many seem to see as not of their kind, as if people like myself, and Everyday Transperson, got our tickets to this soiree by winning our tickets as a FAMILY DOLLAR door prize. Creating Change? Or, MORE OF THE SAME?? It is one thing to throw out platitudes, and say you understandstand or agree, but quite another to stand with, and speak for, and show conviction by not being fearful of being seen as too closely aligned to THE FAMILY DOLLAR SET. Or worse, just ignoring us. So, a public acknowledgement to you. Check out my Intro piece at GAYAGENDA.COM, tommorow. Would love to get ur take. STEVE

steve tabarez | February 15, 2009 1:43 AM

I promised myself to stay away from this discussion today, from this whole other world called the blogosphere, and these communities that have been so readily constructed to take the place of the one inhabited by the ones you talk about Everyday Transperson. But, your last comment just wouldn't let me. You see, only the people that have lived and seen the life we seek to speak for, can understand the anger we have, can see and understand the chasm that exists, and can see the devastation and wreckage that accumalates from the indifference of those, however well intentioned they are, that fail to see the massive institutional changes that must take place. And honey, this world is not the place to speak to it.For these communities don't include people like you and me. The very foundation on which they were built and meant to serve were people who have the means to access it. So in this reality, the ability to see what we speak of just isn't there. And they just don't want to hear it. I suffered my first censorship today, as my first piece as a contributor was relegated to a letter to the editor, without being told of course. The topic was of course this media and the classism that runs rampant thru it. Imagine my anger ET. Cuz it wasn't just about that, but the story of a poor, working class guy who had to struggle to eat, and be brown, and be gay. And, how now, given this economy, I may soon be out in that real world you talk about. So, I hear you Everyday Transperson. PEACE