Money in the Mouth

For a long time I’ve supported the Human Rights Campaign–one of the largest and most well-known LGBT civil rights advocacy groups in the world. But as of today, I have severed my ties with them–and here’s the reason why.

To give a bit of background, I believe in pe’ah, the ancient Jewish practice of leaving the corners of our fields for the poor and those who cannot help themselves. Since I don’t have a farm, though, I try to put my money, whatever I can, into worthy causes I support. Sometimes this means I make microloans on Kiva, sometimes it means I support causes on GoFundMe (like this effort to help LGBT youth in my hometown), and sometimes it means I make monthly donations to non-profits–like the Human Rights Campaign.

For a lot of months, I gave a small donation to the organization, helping them do the great work they do in furthering global LGBT equality. Then, in December when my wallet was stolen and I had to cancel my credit card, it stopped. And the spring semester was so numbingly busy that I never got around to setting up my monthly donation, so since sometime in January, they’ve been calling me back with pleas for moneys.

Naturally, I screened their calls.

Then, a few weeks ago, the Advocate released an article calling the HRC a “white men’s club,” and I was sorely disappointed. Reports of employees experiencing sexism, transphobic prejudices, and racial discrimination not only illuminated faults facing the entire queer community, but also confirmed rumors that I have actively defended the HRC against in the past. I felt betrayal, but sadly I wasn’t as surprised as I wanted to be.

Since then, I’ve still ignored their phone calls, knowing I’m between jobs (since I work on campus, I’m seasonally unemployed over the summer) and couldn’t make any contributions anyways. But this report still loomed in the back of my mind.

Finally, today, I had enough. When HRC called, I answered the phone, and when they asked if I’d resume my monthly donations, I told them I had read the Advocate’s article and that I was disappointed by the lack of inclusion within the organization, and that I would not financially support them again until all these problems are fixed. At the end, I implored the caller to make note of why I was withholding my donations so that the HRC can see that its supports value true diversity and want the organization to turn itself around.

It felt freeing, standing up for what I believe in, but it’s unfortunate I had to take that stand in the first place. The queer community has been one of the most marginalized throughout history, and seeing the most visible leaders of our movement perpetuating the same biases that hold down so many of our own voices is simply sickening. Queerness transcends all races, colors, creeds, and classes–through the pursuit of love and self-determination, the LGBT community stands to bring together many diverse groups and forge a new sense of camaraderie and understanding, but the HRC failed to see this.

I still believe in supporting great causes, and once I’m back on campus, with any sort of income, I plan to resume making regular donations to advance the world in the ways I believe it needs to be, but I won’t be putting my money into HRC’s pockets until they have conclusively proven themselves worthy of receiving the support I can give them.

Instead, I’ll be giving my money and time to other organizations, and I implore you to do the same. Right now the National Center for Lesbian Rights is top of my list, but I’m also considering the Transgender Law Center and the local Equality North Carolina. If you’re looking for a one-time donation instead, you can also lend a hand to my own fundraiser to help my fiance and I offset the costs of his immigration since we’re both students.

If these causes don’t stir your passions, don’t just stop here. Find an organization that supports what you stand for, or even donate your time rather than your money. Regardless how you do it, serving others is one of the most rewarding things any one of us can do.

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