The other day my five-year-old asked why the man outside the grocery store was ringing a bell. When I told her that they were raising money for people who were poor or homeless, she immediately wanted to donate. I told her that she could (she gets an allowance and a third of it goes into a share jar exactly for this reason), but that I didn’t feel good about giving money to a group that doesn’t have a good track record with gay people. Of course, then my nine-year-old asked why. I explained that it probably wasn’t anything personal. If they met our family, they’d probably like us a lot.
We passed the red pail and my five-year-old decided not to donate after all. But then we got in the car and she wanted to know who she should give money to. Each month we donate to our local food bank. Wanting to pay for meals for folks who don’t have enough to eat, especially this time of year, makes sense to my kids. As does donating to organizations that take care of women like Planned Parenthood and RAICES helping refugees and immigrant families. So I mentioned all three of these organizations and we planned to send a little extra money this month.
But this conversation made me stop and think. I have a roof over my head and can keep my family warm, well fed, and happy this cold December. We can have hot cocoa with marshmallows whenever we want (though not as often as the five-year-old would like). And there’s more. I’m married to the woman I love and a legal parent to the kids she carried. I have a job where I can be out and still be successful. I write stories about women loving women and my parents tell their friends.
I’m not naive. I know that none of this happened simply because I worked hard. Other people worked hard for me to get to this place. Maybe, I realized, it’s time to pay something back in a bigger way than my annual HRC membership.
This is where you come in. I would like to donate all the proceeds I’ve earned from the sale of my books this year. Yep, all of it. But I want help picking where the money should go. Here are my top choices:
“The mission of Inside/Out is to empower, educate and advocate for lesbian, bisexual, transgender, gay, intersex and questioning (LGBTIQ) youth from Southern Colorado….providing much needed assistance to homeless youth rejected by their families and forced to live on the street. With the help of contributions from people such as yourself we are able to purchase clothing, toiletries, food, and help fund activities to provide life experiences these kids wouldn’t otherwise be able to.”
“Point Foundation’s purpose is to empower LGBTQ students of merit, many of whom might otherwise be at an academic and social disadvantage as a direct result of their sexual orientation or gender identity. While empowerment is a lofty goal, Point Foundation achieves it by providing education, mentorship, leadership development, and community service training; as well as the financial ability to attend the nation’s foremost institutions of higher education; to our scholars. ”
“The Sylvia Rivera Law Project works to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination or violence.”
“The Audre Lorde Project is a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming People of Color center for community organizing, focusing on the New York City area. Through mobilization, education, and capacity-building, we work for community wellness and progressive social and economic justice. Committed to struggling across differences, we seek to responsibly reflect, represent and serve our various communities.”
“The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning youth.”
Which would you pick? Tell me in the comments below. And here’s to a very merry and gay holiday!