Facing the connection between poverty and oppression during Pride

June 17, 2024
by Ty Gordon (he/they)

Maya Angelou stated, “You can’t know where you are going until you know where you have been.” Every civil rights movement is marked by a pivotal moment in history. These are events that ignite a transformative wave of social justice, redefining equality and human rights across the globe. We recognize June as National Pride Month to honor one of these historic moments for LGBTQI+ rights. In 1969, in Greenwich Village, New York, the Stonewall Uprising began in the early morning hours of June 28. That day, New York police raided the Stonewall Inn, a bar known to serve openly LGBTQI+ clientele. The raid prompted six days of protest and violent clashes with police. This act of civil disobedience started because LGBTQI+ people and allies rallied to assert their right to exist. While we have made some progress, our world still questions if LGBTQI+ individuals deserve the same rights as heterosexual/cisgender individuals. Being gay or queer is still illegal in countries across the globe.  

Our advocacy focuses on improving the lives of those experiencing poverty. In the United States of America, 28 percent of LGBTQI+ youth reported experiencing homelessness or housing instability at some point in their lives. For these LGBTQI+ youth with unstable housing, they are two to four times more likely to report depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts. Twenty percent of LGBTQI+ high school students experienced food insecurity. Fourteen percent of LGBTQI+ 18- to 24-year-olds reported not having enough to eat in the past week. Twenty-three percent of income eligible LGBTQI+ adults are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). As an organization, we focus on food insecurity, housing instability, and economic justice. Our advocacy must center people with lived experience of these issues, including those who experience poverty-worsening oppression due to sexual and gender identities.  

As the world comes alive with vibrant Pride colors, joyous parades, and a shared spirit of love and acceptance, we must remember the past. We cannot forget the sacrifices of those who fought for their rights in 1969. Pride Month is more than just a celebration — it is a powerful reminder of the ongoing struggle for justice. It is also a tribute to the resilience and contributions of the LGBTQI+ community. As advocates, we play a critical role in fostering a more inclusive world. It is important to call out the injustice that causes LGBTQI+ people to have higher rates of food insecurity and housing instability. We know that LGBTQI+ communities incur trauma from economic distress and lack of safety. We must advocate for representation in all parts of our nation as we stand in solidarity and support. We must educate ourselves and others to dispel myths and to support our community. 

We are in the 21st century and we see how ignorance and prejudice lead to harm. We see lawmakers all over the country proposing and passing legislation designed to dim the existence of LGBTQI+ individuals. Policy can either cement or prevent discrimination. When decision makers codify oppression into law, people cannot equitably access health care, housing, and economic security. Bad policy can cost lives, and standing up for those who need us the most is what we do. It is not our job to judge or question the existence of any human being. Instead, it is our job to ensure that we educate and advocate for all parts of our community.   

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