The words Family Values are coded language for anti-LGBTQ activism and the suppression of women’s rights. How many anti-queer organizations insert the words Family or Values or the potent combination of Family Values, into their names? I immediately think of the groups like American Family Association, Traditional Values Coalition, and of course the once massive and influential Focus on the Family.
The group Defend the Family, which has hunkered down to protect “the natural family, marriage, and family values,” on their website reminds donors of the Forgotten Last Days Warning about Homosexuality in the Bible. I of course read this and hear good news. Evangelists of old forgot to point out that there are actually homosexuals in the Bible. Churches have been misguided in their obsessive assault on the gays and the rest of us resulting in unnecessary suffering. But I may be reading to much into it.
Of course these pro-family groups are coalitions for certain types of families. They defend heterosexual marriages while focusing their fundraising activities on maligning LGBTQ lives, dreams, and our families. For many of us LGBTQ folks the words Family Values remind us that there are people working hard to maintain a legal and social straight supremacy over any type of family or person that falls outside of their sexual preferences and gender presentations.
It is easy to spend lots of time defending ourselves from the attacks. It takes a lot of creative energy. But lately I have been wondering about queer family values–no not marriage equality and at the acquisition of children. I wonder what have our values for family and community looked like in the past and how will they look in the future.
Here are two short monologues that explore these topics (full transcripts below if you prefer to read them instead of listening to my velvety smooth voice.) I am the queen of intersections, so I look at LGBTQ homelessness as a queer family values issue, one that may well loom larger in the coming years.
Now 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 email@example.com that’s firstname.lastname@example.org 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.