In order to eradicate poverty, we must constantly seek to deepen our knowledge about the communities of people driven into poverty. Differences across race, gender identity, age, sexuality and geography, among other variables, have to be analyzed. When organizing, advocacy and policy reflects all of our personal identities, we strengthen our ability to fight for, and achieve, economic justice for all.
It’s been nearly fifty years since the Stonewall uprising, a series of demonstrations in New York City led by the most marginalized members of LGBTQ communities—among them a number of fierce transgender people of color, young people experiencing homelessness, gender nonconforming women, and men engaged in sex work. The uprising grew out of our community’s frustration at being forced into dark corners and erased from mainstream society. In the decades since, many advocates have stood on the shoulders of those who rose up at Stonewall, building community and fighting for the needs of people living at the intersections of multiple marginalized identities.
At the same time, other LGBTQ advocates have cultivated an image of our community that is wealthy, white, male, and monogamously partnered. This intentional cultivation was in some part a response to conservative attacks on our community that painted us as anti-family, but in equal parts it was a call to our community to assimilate into the cultural norms defined by our detractors and a perpetuation of racism and class bias.
The reality of our community belies this carefully curated image. U.S. LGBTQ communities have seen some remarkable gains in the half century since Stonewall, yet for the most marginalized in our community, much has remained the same.
LGBTQ people—especially LGBTQ people of color and transgender and gender nonconforming people—are more likely to be living at or near the poverty level. We have more need for social safety net programs, like Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and employment and housing programs, yet we face pervasive discrimination when attempting to access such programs. We lack explicit and broad nondiscrimination protections at the federal level, and even where those protections exist, people living at the intersections of multiple marginalized identities continue to be shut out from the services and supports we need.
In order to meaningfully meet the needs of our community, it is vital to prioritize racial and economic justice. This report is meant to help coordinate that prioritization across the LGBTQ movement. By collating the stated priorities of activists, advocates, service providers, and LGBTQ people living in poverty across the United States, we’ve provided a roadmap for those looking to deepen their understanding of how to advocate effectively for LGBTQ economic justice.
- Excerpt from Intersecting Injustice, Executive Summary