At home and abroad, being gay is not always so fabulous. It’s still a dangerous, lonely place out there for many of us. This holiday season, support those domestic and international nonprofits that are making the world a safer, more hospitable place for the gay community.
With one in four homeless teens self-identifying as LGBT, we have placed special emphasis on those organizations helping out gay youth in our year-end recommendations. If you don’t have the time (or the patience) to mentor at-risk youngsters, then go Gaga with a check.
With the “Kill the Gays” bill still floating around the Uganda Legislature—and stories of honor slayings, rapes and murders all too common—we’ve also included a number of groups that aid LGBTs in Africa.
Of course these are just the tip of the iceberg— there are countless nonprofits in need of your financial help. We encourage you to look for smaller, local organizations as well.
1. The Memphis Gay & Lesbian Community Center has begun relying on donations to stay afloat but in May the organization’s executive director estimated that the group needed $45,000 to survive. The Center has been serving the LGBT community in the mid-South since 1989.
2. The Door in New York City operates 65-unit housing complex for disconnected youth (26% of whom identify as LGBT). Those aging out of the foster care system in NYC face a lack of resource assistance from the government, according to spokesperson Amanda Peck.
3. Ruth Ellis Center in Michigan is the only organization in the Midwest dedicated to serving the needs of LGBT homeless and runaway youth. With 40% of homeless teens in the Detroit area identifying as LGBT, its work is vital. The focus is on providing short-term and long-term residential safe spaces in the form of semi-independent living arrangements and transitional housing. Wanda Sykes (right) has personally pledged her support.
4. Wezesha in Tanzania houses LGBT folk who have faced violence and rejection from their families and who have lost their homes. They are currently raising money to help out with accommodations, health services and food for 25 people in Der se Salaam. You can contribute here.
5. Howard Brown Health Center in Chicago was a pioneer in the early days of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Since then the clinic has been instrumental in HIV prevention and treatment. They put together the Brown Elephant resale shop, with proceeds helping to fight AIDS.
6. Youth First Texas gives the older and wiser gays in Dallas the opportunity to become mentors and life coaches to LGBT youth ages 14-22, helping them with practical life skills like job hunting and saving for a first apartment.
7. St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation is a San Diego-based nonprofit focused on LGBT global equality. (They also support Ugandan Bishop/gay-rights activist Christopher Senyonjo.) St. Paul’s just helped release queer musician Joseph Bukombe from a U.S. detention center. (He stayed in America illegally rather than face returning to his native Uganda) and is sponsoring a young transgender Ugandan who was abducted and tortured before being granted asylum. Tax-deductible donations can be made here.
8. Larkin Street Youth is a San Francisco organization dedicated to helping homeless youth by offering shelter, food, addiction counseling, mentoring, recreational activities and more. In many ways it is a model of what a LGBT services nonprofit should be.
9. Lambert House in Seattle is a community center dedicated entirely to the needs of LGBT youth under the age of 22. It focuses more on social and community activities that form strong, lasting bonds. As Neil Patrick Harris said, “What really matters is the greater community that surrounds our children.”
10. Gay Kenya helps people in Kenya who have been thrown out of their homes and even assaulted for coming out. The non-profit is looking to raise $4,000 from a minimum of 50 donors in by December 31. The innovative safe-spaces facility will provide for immediate protection, an opportunity to engage with career counselors and family mediation services.
There are many, many more LGBT organizations both in the U.S. and abroad that need your help—ones fighting for marriage equality, AIDS research, workplace rights and other issues of vital importance to our community. Giving money to any of them is a wonderful thing—giving of your time is a true blessing.
Have a favorite LGBT charity? Pass it along in the comments (and include a website!)