LGBT hunger and poverty

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Tonight 1 in 3 LGBT persons in the United Sates will go to bed hungry because they do not have the resources to get food.  The rate of poverty for children of female same-sex couples is 41%, and for male same-sex couples it is 29%. For transgender persons, the poverty rate is at least 59%.  These are just a few statistics that paint the true picture of the LGBT communities.

Society believed a lie, that LGBT communities were more affluent than the population at large, because a marketing firm created a false picture to sell more advertising.  They created it by selecting a very specific group of people – the donors to several national LGBT civil rights organizations – who by-and-large are more affluent, but are not an accurate representation of the true demographics of LGBT communities.  (As an aside, this marketing firm has made the fight for equality harder because conservatives used their “data” to say there was not a need for equal civil rights protections.)

The reality is that gay men make between 10% and 30% less than straight men for the same jobs.  The reality is that 40% of the homeless youth population is LGBT, and of those 59% experience sexual violence (rape) and 62% commit suicide. 

In housing and healthcare, the numbers are as staggering and destructive.  Housing takes up between 60% and 70% of take home pay for those at or near the poverty level of $11,670 for a one person household (add $4,060 for each additional person in the household to find that poverty level).  30% of the transgender community is being denied housing, and another 19% are harassed when they seek housing.  Even after “Obamacare” many LGBT persons lack adequate health insurance due to states not expanding Medicaid. Up to 25% of the LGBT people lack the coverage to meet their healthcare needs.

The rate of LGBT poverty, hunger, etc. in Nashville, Memphis, and Knoxville is nearly twice as high as it is in New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles and other very large metropolitan areas.  In outlying or rural counties, LGBT poverty rates go higher, to nearly three times that of the major cities mentioned.

A few years ago I cast a vision to end poverty, as we now know it, in Middle Tennessee.  The church I serve, Covenant of the Cross, began a program we call Covenant Cupboard – a program that seeks to provide assistance to anyone who had a need.  In 2013, over 4,000 people were helped via that program, receiving some of the over 49,500 meals, 300 medical clinic visits, or help with shelter and utilities.

This year we realized that we had to make Covenant Cupboard a non-profit, to expand and sustain our ability to help. The needs are getting so great that more resources are needed.  We give people food based on one question only – “Are you hungry?”  Few people come asking because they feel great about it, so we decided that we do not care who you love, what you do, your race, or anything other than “Are you hungry?”  Of course we help with healthcare, housing and LGBT homeless youth as well via this program. But as the truth about our community’s need becomes clearer, the question is not what we will do. The question is what will you, the reader, do?

For more information, to help, or get help, just email me, Pastor Greg Bullard, at pastorgreg@covenantofthecross.com or call 615-612-5040.