June brings the launch of summer and a month of celebrations in support of LGBTQIA+ people. It is PRIDE month – time to celebrate the history and accomplishments of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and gender non-conforming/expansive people. It is a time to stand with our friends, family members, neighbors, and coworkers. This year it is especially important for those of us involved with nonprofits to take time to understand the challenges that LGBTQIA+ organizations are facing. It is also time for all of us to look at how we welcome and support the LGBTQIA+ people within our nonprofits.
Here are a few suggestions for what we can do as nonprofit leaders. Reach out to LGBTQIA+ serving organizations in your community. Get to know them and let them know that you support them. Ask what you and your nonprofit can do to demonstrate that support. Provide resources and services as you can. Increase your knowledge of LGBTQIA+ people, history, culture, and issues. Become an advocate: talk with others about the issues facing LGBTQIA+ people and the impact these have. Use your communication and online channels to spread the word and to help break down barriers. Increase capacity and understanding within your nonprofit: step up and offer services to members of the LGBTQIA+ community and their family members. Participate in community-wide conversations and actions and have an open-door policy to those organizations and individuals who need to be heard and who need help. Members of our community are under attack now – who’s next?
We are based in Memphis, TN and so we reached out to OUT Memphis the local organization that supports and advocates for the LGBTQIA+ community of the Mid-South. We spoke with Anu Iyer, director of community family initiatives. We asked her what she would like to people know about OUT Memphis. She shared with us that OUT Memphis was founded in 1989 and today focuses on social services and advocacy. They operate a community center, a youth emergency center, and have a building for administrative services. They also rent out 23 to 25 apartments to young people in need of housing addressing the critical issue of homelessness amongst LGBTQIA+ youth. They focus their work in three areas: young adults and homelessness; health and wellness; and community and families. Their youth group is for people 12 – 17 years old and is open to all LGBTQIA+ youth. The majority of participants identify as gender nonconforming or on the trans spectrum, making this group increasingly important as hostility and political attacks on trans youth increase. Anu reminded us that this year alone, over 400 anti-LGBT bills have been introduced across the country with the bulk in the South. OUT Memphis partners with organizations such as CHOICES, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU to ensure continuity of health care and that people have a safe place to come to regardless of what else is happening.
It’s time for all of us to support our neighbors: reach out to the LGBTQIA+ organization near you.
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Copyright 2023 – Mel and Pearl Shaw of Saad&Shaw – Comprehensive Fund Development Services. Let us help you plan for 2023! Video and phone conferencing services are always available. Call us at (901) 522-8727. www.saadandshaw.com