Over the weekend, as there were Pride celebrations in many parts of the world, I visited with old friends. What was completely astonishing to me was the state of poverty that we find ourselves in right now.
All of us are well over 50. We are the only ones to lose our home at this point; the other friends are barely holding on. Of the four of us out the other night at the Egyptian museum, only one of us has a job. The other three hobos, I mean homos, have all been gainfully employed all our adult lives. One has owned and operated several businesses over time. Her unemployment just ran out on Friday. She is one of the 1.3 million who were dropped that day.
My unemployment ran out back in April. No income since then so my spouse is trying to keep both of us afloat.
The other friend is on disability and her partner is her paid caregiver. The Governator is about to drop that program so that poor disabled will continue to bear the burden of this Depression. They live a half hour drive out of town and cannot afford to move in closer to town so they are facing down foreclosure also.
I have to give a shout out to fellow blogger Patricia Nell Warren for also talking about the financial crisis many lgbt folks find themselves in, including herself. We are losing our houses, our savings, and our dignity in this disaster.
In all the latest rumblings about LGBT rights, I wonder how we get more of our own folks realizing the recession is a queer issue? ENDA is a jobs bill, so is DADT. But ultimately my life and ability to be a participating member is tied up in the Senate and their lack of understanding of our realities - straight and LGBT.
It was finally explained to me during my last visit to DC. It is an obvious answer, really. None of the legislature, Senate and House alike, ever see needy people every day. There is always money in DC so since they don't go outside of the comfort zone of the Hill and their homes, why would they see the other realities?
There is no urgency on the economy. There is no urgency on anything. When I heard the President tell the folks on the Gulf Coast that they were not going to be forgotten, I thought, "Well what about the rest of us? You have forgotten about us and left us. We have no help and there is no help on the horizon." Abandoned.
Let me ask this - how many unemployed people were invited to the White House cocktail party last week? All the glowing reports of words from the President are irrelevant without action. There is no action because we have been forgotten and left behind. Again.
This continued depression has a strong effect on our community. How many LGBT centers are struggling? The AIDS prevention money was stripped from the California budget so who will be the next wave of infected gay men in California? How many activists are sidelined because they have no resources and cannot devote time to planning or activism because we are crippled by poverty? Getting turned down repeatedly for jobs doesn't do a lot for a person's self esteem, trust me.
There is a price to pay for this disaster. Unfortunately, those who should be paying for it are summering in the Hamptons. The rest of us are stuck with the bill, both financial and emotional.
So during this month of Pride, while we celebrate all our victories over the years, try to remember those on the sidelines, struggling to keep our heads above water. Equality should mean an equal chance to contribute to our communities, live a good life, and hold our heads high.
Mr Fierce Advocate, this is your chance to make a difference for all of us.
(Picture via Minnesota Public Radio)