Sunday, June 7, 2015

A CALL TO ACTION: Organizational Control & The SGL-BT/LGBT Community

In my experiences as a Gay/SGL Black man, I had come to the conclusion a long time ago that organizations are not good for people of color to join when they are inspired to get out on the ground and do the work. We meet someone who inspires us to be part of the change and are welcomed by different people and their open arms only to find out that they are part of a small insular group that roam like nomads from org to org until they control it and then institute a level of group think that is not even comprehend-able. They see your potential and talent, but not for your benefit, they are automatically trying to figure out how you can work for them and for free. They want you to volunteer your ideas, time and then when they are done with you, they get rid of you. This is not a symbiotic relationship by any means, we as people of color, those who have tried out being in orgs have been subjected to being made to feel like our ideas and checks on the privileges on our White counterparts are from a place of anger and disruption.

They, White and Black are intimidated by anyone who can operate autonomously without the blessing of their org or even some group of establishment gays who feel like you should go through them for mentorship and approval before you go and stand out.When did we get to a place where people and orgs want to control how an individual wants to fight for the rights for all in their respective communities? They refuse to have events centered on the issues of SGL-BT/LGBT persons of color and when we try to do it for ourselves, they tear it down, denigrate it and tell others to avoid it.The awful truth is that not only is this attack from our White counterparts and straight folks, it is coming from within our own ranks! I really don't need to know why this happens, what I am concerned with is how we can work around the blockages.

Now let me step back just a little bit and say that organizational control is very tricky. The first thing that happens is that we (POC) are under represented when it comes to the board rooms and administrative staff of these organizations. Case and point, when we look at Legacy Community Health Services, the work that they do in the Houston SGL-BT/LGBT community is great. But their organizational structure is not the best in my opinion and here is why:

1. When doing their outreach to the SGL-BT/LGBT communities of color, they decided to create a separate facility that is designed to only to cater to cis-gender Black men under the guise of being a drop-in center for all. As I stated in my last post: "It is sad to see that we have drop in centers like Msociety and others that only cater to CDC codes like "MSM" (MEN who have SEX with MEN). WHERE IN THE HELL ARE THE ALL ENCOMPASSING TRANS RESOURCES? That is one of many questions that come to my mind as I write about homeless folks within the LGBT community. I mean Legacy is really great at helping those in TRANSition along with all of the required processes, please correct me if I am wrong."

2. Not only is it an issue that there is a lack of Trans resources, but a lack of resources for the Lesbian community as a whole as well. There is only one organization that I know of that caters specifically to our ladies (xoxo) and that is LHI (Lesbian Health Initiative).

3. Organizations including but not limited to Legacy put these out reach posts in areas that many people don't come to unless there is an incentive for a gift card or a pass to some event that does not address the community needs that are clearly before their eyes. why not have multiple locations, in areas that need drop-in centers? Access is very important in doing outreach and getting folks educated about STDs/STIs.

We have organizations that help or at least try to influence how policy is shaped on the municipal and state level and they have great rates of success. One thing that bothers me is that as much as I want and fight for marriage equality, I need these orgs to stop overlapping on the same issues and focus on what is happening on a local level. SGL-BT/LGBT homelessness in youth AND adults is a very serious issue and I see places like Grace Place doing GREAT work and then we still have issue of SHELTER and EMPLOYMENT. Remember when I asked "why it is so hard for the LGBT homeless to find shelter, help and care without being HIV positive?"

Organizations want to be the go to place for all issues and YET they cant address them properly because they aren't hiring people who have experience in the communities of color that the orgs claim to want to reach so badly. They say "its not in our budget, but we do need volunteers," and "we just can't find someone who is qualified for the position." I call bullshit!
Now keep in mind that this permeates all areas of our society, especially politics in the context that you can have a few token Black folks on your board and it be clear that it is not indicative of the actual racial make up of the org itself. Once again, I assert that my decision for not joining orgs has been proven over and over again, and that wont change in my mind anytime soon.

We must take the responsibility to take care of ALL of the parts of the LGBT community. We cannot fix it all at once, but we need resources to be available to ALL and VISIBLE TO ALL. SO I AM ASKING THOSE OF US IN THE HOUSTON LGBT COMMUNITY TO WORK FROM WITHIN THEIR OWN LANES AS INDIVIDUALS AND NOT JUST WAIT ON SOME ORGANIZATION TO SAVE THE DAY.

THIS IS A CALL TO ARMS - ASHTON P. WOODS