Usually the term Family Values is another way of saying Anti-Gay (and anti-bisexual, transgender, and lesbian). Just like some groups believe they have exclusive rights to God and Faith, some of these same groups act like they have the monopoly on family, values, and the potent patented formula of family values. Hang on. LGBTQ people for ages have carved out for ourselves our own self-styled families–chosen families.
Have you heard about Casa Ruby in Washington, DC? Started by Ruby Jade Corado, a transgender immigrant from El Salvador, Casa Ruby provides housing for transgender adults and youth. I learned about this amazing project through a recent NPR story: Casa Ruby is a ‘Chosen Family’ for Trans People Who Need a Home.
Lately I have gotten some people’s attention when I say, I’m not an environmentalist, but I am concerned about climate change as an LGBTQ issue. They are like–Wait, What??? How is global warming a queer issue? Wow, there are lots of ways, I respond including the plight of LGBTQ homeless adults and youth during a disaster like Super Storm Sandy or Hurricane Katrina. These are folks who often stay as far as way as possible from traditional shelters that make like miserable for gender non-conforming folks and openly gay folks.
This week on the Climate Stew Show, I look at LGBTQ homelessness and seniors in the light of our climate crisis. There is important community building work for us to do. We have skin in the game.
Here is a clip where I talk this issue (transcript below)
And using some imagination, I look back from the year 2165, 150 years from today, and introduce the world to the Queer Family Alliance and their amazing work in providing safe and loving shelter for LGBTQ people (transcript below)
Now I guess it is my turn. What is a reason to respond to climate change? Well as a long time LGBTQ activist, I think of climate change as a very queer issue, one that directly affects LGBTQ people. Right now in most cities in the US there are people living on the streets, including youth. Up to 40% of these homeless youth are transgender, bisexual, lesbian, gay, queer, genderqueer. Many times they don’t feel safe in traditional homeless shelters where people are forced to go to either all male or all female spaces with little regard for gender identity and presentation. Often shelters are run by churches where it is unclear how welcoming an LGBTQ young person might be especially if they are gender non-conforming. As a result, they often avoid shelters. For the same reason transgender adults who live on the streets also steer clear of the shelters.
So what happens in a time of extreme weather? When we have Superstorm Sandy or Hurricane Katrina, what happens to the folks living on the streets? What happens to these LGBTQ young people? Similarly what about the many LGBTQ senior citizens, many of whom live alone without supportive family nearby. Many do not have children checking in on them.
As I think of the projections for more storms, more extreme heat, more displacement, I wonder about the role of LGBTQ community centers, of religious communities that seek to be open and affirming, of cities that have anti-discrimination policies when it comes to employment but may not take into consideration the needs of transgender, bisexual, genderqueer, lesbian and gay people who need shelter and temporary housing or during a time disaster relief. A reason to act on climate change is for the homeless and elderly LGBTQ people in their time of need.
Now your turn. What about you? Now that you heard some people share their thoughts, what are reasons beyond polar bears and other species and regard for future generations, that we should act. Send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org’s email@example.com or share your thoughts in the comment section of this podcast at climate stew dot com or let me know over at the Climate Stew FB page or on my Twitter feed. Let me know if I can share some of your thoughts with listeners.
That Day in Climate History–The Queer Family Alliance
I am Timothy Meadows. It is Saturday, June 1st 2165 and time for That Day in Climate History. By the year 2020 the increase and intensity of extreme weather events created chronic crises for cities globally. The disaster especially affected those people without homes or reliable housing. In the early 21st Centuray, transgender, gender queer, bisexual, lesbian, and gay youth comprised up to 40% of all homeless youth in most major US cities. In addition many transgender adults were unemployed, underemployed, and homeless. Because of strict gender policies in both public and religious run homeless shelters, many transgender, gender queer, and queer homeless people found these shelters unwelcoming and unsafe. During times of heatwaves, flooding, blizzards, and dust storms, many lost their lives.
As a result the Queer Family Alliance formed. Inspired by the work of Casa Ruby, a collection of alternative housing for homeless transgender, gender queer, and queer adults and youth started by Ruby Jade in Washington, DC, a group of activists in 2021 decided they needed to expand this type of work to other cities. In their mission statement the Queer Family Alliance proclaimed, “Since some of us could no longer find shelter with our families, we sought out a chosen family. In providing safe, loving, and supportive homes for LGBTQ adults and youth, we are demonstrating our family values.”
In coalition with community centers, affirming faith communities, and transgender, gender queer, bisexual, lesbian, and gay organizations, the Queer Family Alliance established over 250 homes and shelters in 50 cities throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. In addition to shelter, they provided assistance in obtaining employment, permanent housing, health care, and healthy food, much of it grown in Queer Family Alliance community gardens. It is estimated that by the year 2060 over two million people found temporary and longterm shelter through the Queer Family Alliance.
On this day in 2165 we remember That Day in Climate History.
Climate History is brought to you by Exxon-Mobile Renewables—proud sponsors of the 2165 Arctic Games.