This morning, I got a red-alert email from an activist friend of mine, Cat White, who lives in Los Angeles County. Cat is a marriage-family therapist intern and interpreter for the deaf, and a vivid community figure who has worked widely around L.A. County and surrounding counties. Energetic and outspoken, Cat knocks herself out for the
people she cares about. This morning she was letting her list know that Ventura County Rainbow Alliance in Ventura, CA, north of L.A., is closing its doors on July 29th due to cut-offs of government funding. Cat worked for VCRA as an intern before leaving recently to work for an agency closer to her home.
Cat's message should be a wake-up call to LGBT people everywhere in the U.S.
As the budget-cutting massacres continue to splash real human pain on America's walls, our own biggest centers in urban areas may weather the storm somehow, since they have access to private A-list donors. But the smaller LGBT centers in suburban and rural areas, which seldom get A-list attention, are surely suffering - along with the people they serve. Their clients are typically under-18, elderly, transgendered, homeless, indigent, unemployed, or those who need HIV/AIDS-related or other health-related services.
Those state and federal powers who are axing services everywhere don't give a frick about human needs - they're too busy protecting their own jobs, and
their perks. Please read Cat's message urgent message follows after the jump:
Here is Cat's message:
Absolutely heartbreaking!!! VCRA is a wonderful and much needed organization. In Ventura County, this is going to hit especially hard to the LGBT community due to the racism and homophobia rampant in that area. This is not the time to go back in the closet because of yet another Center closing. VCRA provided vital services to ALL in Ventura County: Free AIDS testing, Mental Health Counseling for HIV+ and their families, a food bank among other services.
I have done what I could to support them. I ran a marathon to help raise money for these much needed services. I drove to and from VCRA on my own dime to provide services I was not getting paid for, when I could least afford to do so, in order for indigent LGBT people to get desperately services they needed.
Due to this center closing, these people will not get ANY services they need. Will they go hungry? YES Will there be more cases of HIV in Ventura county? YES!
What have you done to support a smaller LGBTQ community center? What will you do now?
Now is the time to start thinking about other communities other than your own. Can you imagine what it will be like if the center in your community closed? What would you do? Imagine not having a personal vehicle: the time to take a bus 60 miles from your home, the numerous transfers, the dangers involved!
Remember that adage: They came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a JEW... When they came for me, no one else was there to speak out for me. WE MUST make sure that history does not repeat itself.
Please think about supporting a smaller LGBT Center outside of your community instead of buying that latte, or that new flat-screen TV. The smallest amount will be gratefully accepted.
If you are unsure of what smaller community centers might be in need, please contact me, and I will send you a list, and what more you can do to lend your support.
In an interview with me this afternoon, Cat adds the following request: "If anybody knows of a struggling center in their local area, anywhere in the country, I'm asking that they let me know about it. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org."
This is the moment of truth, folks. This is when we find out how much we care about what so many of us choose to call "the LGBT community." Many in government don't care about us -- they'd like to see us disappear. Few in the mainstream world are going to help needy LGBT people.
Even the knothead extremist church people take care of their own. So...are we willing to take care of our own needy community members? Fifty dollars a month, or even $25 a
month, from a lot of people in a given area will go far to help a struggling little center stay open. The fate of our grassroots community services is going to be up to us.