DMI Blog

Maureen Lane

There are No Homosexuals Here

"Meteor Blades" of The Daily Kos picked up on an important point embedded in the Iranian president’s statement that there are no homosexuals in Iran: how do our own policies deny the gay community?

When we discriminate on the basis of sexual and gender identity we are in effect denying that people exist. As in most discrimination, the drive to prejudice is based on stereotypes and the fears they provoke that are deep in us internally.

I have not written enough about the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Inter-Sex, Transgender, Two Spirit, Questioning and Queer (LGBITTQQ) community and poverty. In that way, I have contributed to denying the community. When you compound discrimination, the intersection of race, sexuality and gender can be profound on people’s ability to attain economic security and to get help when they are in need.

As Amber Hollibaugh, activist and writer, reported, “We punish people in this country for being poor and we punish homosexuality. When both are combined, it does more than double the effect: It twists and deepens it, gives it sharper edges, and heightens our inability to duck and cover or slide through to a safer place. It forces you to live more permanently outside than either condition dictates.”

Thankfully, here in NYC we have groups that are raising the visibility of poor and low-income LGBITTQQ in discussions of community quality of life, public safety, health, homelessness and other issues of economic injustice.

QEJ (Queers for Economic Justice – in the interest of full disclosure, I am a founding board member of QEJ) in collaboration with other groups spearheaded a change in NYC shelter policy: “As of February 1st, homeless couples who have registered with the City Clerk as domestic partners will be sheltered as families in the same way as married couples. This policy will apply to both opposite-sex and same-sex couples. In addition, the new policy grants "family status" to homeless adults who have other family relationships (e.g., grandparent and grandson/daughter, or siblings) who have resided together for six of the previous twelve months, and to street homeless couples who are assisted by an outreach worker.”

Poverty is an important issue in the LGBTTQ community across the generations . For example, the Peter Cicchino Youth Project sites, "Of the estimated 20,000 teenagers living on the streets of New York City, almost half self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered (LGBT). These teens have been thrown out of their homes or have run away from foster care because of homophobia, harassment, and physical abuse. " Young and old, we who identify in the LGBITTQQ community are faced with specific discrimination because of our identity: on the streets, in the welfare centers, in hospitals and bread lines.

I hope we can continue this discussion on the blog. Poverty in the LGBITTQQ community is a progressive issue.

Maureen Lane: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 6:48 AM, Sep 27, 2007 in Civil Rights | New York | Welfare | Youth | activists
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