Every year I do a post around the holidays to remind readers that the Salvation Army is a rightwing organization that discriminates against LGBT people. It's an old boycott stretching back about a decade, but this year my annual post really took off.
News outlets worldwide have reported on my post both pro and con, but my favorite so far is the Christian outlet, World Magazine, who called me "The Red Kettle Menace." Somehow I have become the "leading voice in the Grinch-like campaign" according to another outlet.
So far the post has been shared on Facebook over 64,000 times. It's been picked up by MSNBC, USA Today, Perez Hilton, The Miami Herald, Huffington Post, Australia's Christianity Today, the Charleston Daily Mail, Dan Savage, and so many LGBT and Christian outlets it's become impossible to count.
At an event last night for LGBT bloggers, journalists, and org's communications staff members, several state-level comm directors came up to thank me for the post because they'd been contacted by local media outlets for comment on the story. They got free publicity without even issuing a press release! As soon as last night's Glee Christmas episode aired and the kids were shown ringing Salvation Army bells, the texts, Facebook messages, and tweets started pouring in.
While I'll usually just glance at another outlet covering something I've written and never peek into the comments section, for some reason I've dived in - compulsively reading their readers' thoughts on the Salvation Army. I've noticed that one of the first justifications people use to continue giving to a bigoted charity is exemplified by commenter Tabitha Woodruff here on Bilerico. "Is there ANY evidence to support these allegations? Any citations? Proof?" she asks. Apparently actually reading the article - which includes the proof she wants - is too difficult. That part of the "proof argument" aside, the other side of the coin is the folks who ask for more personal stories. "One anecdote does not a case make," says one of the World Magazine commenters.
While I thought some of the most persuasive arguments were the Army's various governmental lobbying efforts and threats to close soup kitchens, most reports focused on the two sentences about the evangelical charity's refusal to help me and a past boyfriend. I like the idea of sharing more personal encounters with the Salvation Army from the LGBT community though; not everyone has had a bad experience since quite a bit of discretion is given to the local offices. Since I've been keeping tabs on the various stories, I've gathered below several comments left on the sites from LGBT people who've experienced discrimination by the Army. Just for giggles, I've thrown in examples of the "Christian love" some of these folks are showing for the LGBT community as well.
This is not, by any means, an exhaustive list of outlets covering the story. If you know of others I missed, drop them in the comments section and I'll add them. If you've been discriminated against by the Salvation Army, tell us about it.
Be warned, a lot of these comments either describe discrimination that's happened to the authors or contain anti-LGBT remarks. I find it interesting that you can find the most bigoted and downright hateful remarks left on Christian sites with no moderation.
Xion: People who engage in strange sexual behavior can give to whomever they will, but what is the point of protesting charitable organizations who won't embrace certain kinds of sex? How queer!
Sawgunner: Look now for the sodomites to demand hotels remove the Word of God from hotel/motel rooms, otherwise no LGBT bookings.
We mustn't upset anyone's sex fetish. Pursuing any perversion one cares to pursue is a sacrosanct, fundamental and now even Constitutional right.
Gregory: Back in my theist days in the mid to late 80s, I was a deacon at the Metropolitan Community Church in Tucson. MCC is an evangelical denomination that serves a mostly lesbian and gay demographic, and MCC-Tucson was, at the time, located downtown.
We occasionally got homeless people coming by the church in need of services; often, they were gay and knew that they could get help from us. We kept a list of service agencies in the area, and would refer people to where they could get the assistance they needed, such as food, shelter and clothes. On that list was a SA men's shelter three blocks from the church.
Eventually, the Salvation Army learned that the community church down the street from them was run by and for *gasp* homosexuals, and that we welcomed people rather than condemned them. The Tucson commandery sent us a polite but pointed letter informing us that all of their shelters and other services have been instructed NOT to take our referrals. It seemed they preferred to have gay men sleeping on the streets where they might be assaulted, robbed, even freeze to death... than emulate the Good Samaritan.
Anthony Profeta: YOU MUIST BE A SINGLE LESBION GIRL ARENT YOU, JUST GO BACK TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM YOU DONT SPEAK FOR ANY OF THE PEOPLE I KNOW. aND YOU SPEAK FOR A VERY SMALL NUMBER YOUR A LOSER BOTTOM LINE AND NO I DONT HAVE TO AGREE WITH YOU PIG
LISTEN YOU ARE SUCH AN ATTRACTIVE GIRL WHY DOES IT BOTHER YOU SO MUCH THAT SOMEONE HAS AN OPINION THAT THEY ARE SICK OF THE GAYS ALWAYS CRYIN DISCRIMINATION. THERE IS NO DISCRIMINATION IN THE SALVATION ARMY THEY HELP ALL. TRUST ME IF YOUR MOM WAS GAY YOU WOULD NOT BE HERE. GET IT. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU SUCH HATE AND VITRAL.
Ed Himes: YES. I was discriminated against TWICE by the sloth salvation army simply because i was gay....that is example enough !!!!!!!
I would NOT give the salvation army a white dried dog turd out of the woods!!!! They refused to let me do my community service there , once when i was in trouble in Michigan; simply because i was a homosexual. Later in Tennessee, the sorry sloth salvation army refused to help me, before I got my disability, in paying a $40.00 water bill....This organization is a cover up for the works of SATAN !!!!
Michael Dean (in reply to Ed Himes above): ..... from a homosexual criminal now living off the taxpayer who dares compare a Christian group to do satan's work.... what a piece of work YOU are.....
shle896: I worked in media relations for the state headquarters of the Salvation Army about ten years ago, when they unceremoniously fired me after just a few weeks when they discovered I am gay. I was totally incredulous. I later discovered my immediate superior who fired me is a closet case who tried to pick me up at a bath house.
greendyke: Three years ago one of my community college students became homeless during the semester. The only shelter in our midwestern capitol city with any openings for women and children was a SA shelter. This lesbian household was told they had two choices: One of them could live on the street and the shelter would take the other mom and the kids as a "family," or they could all sleep on the street. My student let her partner and kids be a "family" in the eyes of those abusive fuckers while she slept outside. Two school employees even called to try to intervene. My dear great aunt dedicated her life to working with the SA, but that evil organization will never get a cent of my money.
Danny: I have always boycotted the Salvation Army. I was on the streets in San Diego, and went to them for help, they told me that there were better places for someone like me to go. Didn't give me any idea of where those places might be, but turned me away just the same.
GJSmith: Perpetually peeved perverts. Oops, deviants. Let them start their own "charity"... Who cares what two adults do in the confines of privacy, but don't call the 2-5% of the population normal, that engages in a destructive lifestyle. Ever hear of AIDS? That population also seeks to force acceptance through coercion, codifying a change in the status of marriage by redefining the terms. Forcing sex-ed at the Kindergarten level?? Yet another instance of the left seeking to force their views on others.
Don Surber (the author of the article): I guess going after the Boy Scouts and the Catholic church are passe. The perpetually peeved seek fresh horizons for their ever-ire.
ursomniac: The SA has - on many occasions - denied aid to people who they discovered were not heterosexual but ALSO to heterosexuals who allowed non-heterosexuals to live with them (and would directly or indirectly benefit from the aid). In one case, they told a woman with young children whose husband had just died that before they'd help her she had to evict her late husband's brother who was living with them and dying of AIDS-related complications.
Priya Lynn: I know a couple who went to them for assistance and were told they'd only get assistance if they ended their relationship. Just because a lot of churches have this stance doesn't make it right and doesn't make it not homophobic.
Jamie Riehle: Having worked at TSA for a number of years, I'll say this. Their official policy is that they don't discriminate against those seeking services. They are techically a church and are therefore exempt from certain laws. As an employee I was expected to exhibit moral behavior consistent with the Corps (church), and could be dismissed if I didn't. That said, the type of staff they tend to attract are those with faith-related biases, which leads to both overt and covert discrimination. I often intercepted or was asked to take gay and gender variant clients, because I made them feel comfortable. Yeah, their internal policies suck, as does ignorant staff, but the money that goes in the kettles feeds, clothes, and shelters people all year long. It goes directly to client services in the neighborhood you dropped your change. I'm not prepared to tell a church what to do, but I resigned due to these issues.
PAPA: Please good people ignore the sodomites and their disgusting actions. The Salavation Army and Catholic Charities are two Christian organizations that in no way discriminate when it comes to feeding the poor and clothing them, these pathetic sodomites would have you ignore the plight of our most needy to satisfy their perversions, put a little extra in this year.
Abeca Christian: Actually it is not a punishment but a blessing. They can do without the dirty money from those who commit sodomy.
Gabriel: ...Every time I see a Salvation Army Santa/person, I pop whatever change is in my pocket into the bucket and I tell them exactly why I am doing it - TO HELP THEM IN THEIR BATTLE AGAINST THE HOMO-NAZIS!
Seafury: Many of those complaining may have at one time or another been assisted by the Salvation Army and don't want to admit it.
Other Outlets Covering the Story