Then-Gov. Pat Quinn is shown signing Illinois' marriage equality law. Now that that fight is over in Illinois, some LGBTQ activists say it's time to tackle the issue of poverty in the gay community, which is more widespread than generally believed. | Source:  "All gay people are wealthy? That's rich." Mark Brown, Chicago Sun Times

“Then-Gov. Pat Quinn is shown signing Illinois’ marriage equality law. Now that that fight is over in Illinois, some LGBTQ activists say it’s time to tackle the issue of poverty in the gay community, which is more widespread than generally believed.” | Source: “All gay people are wealthy? That’s rich.” Mark Brown, Chicago Sun Times

On March 26th, 2015, CEO of Chicago House, Reverend Stan Sloan along with partner advocates from the Williams Institute, the Center for American Progress and the Vaid Group LLC, hosted a donor meeting on the LGBTQ Poverty Collaborative to address and prioritize the national issue of poverty within the LGBTQ community.

Right on the heels of the Equality Caucus Congressional Briefing of the 114th Congress, which was hosted by fellow advocate Illinois Representative Mike Quigley, Sloan and partners proposed to donors what he terms a “crazy ambitious” plan that will unfold over the coming years. Alongside Sloan were fellow leaders Dr. M.V. Lee Badgett, Founder and Director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration, Professor of Economics at University of Amherst, and Research Director Distinguished Scholar at The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law; Laura E. Durso, Director of LGBT Research and Communications Project for the Center for American Progress; Urvashi Vaid, President and Founder of The Vaid Group LLC and Senior Fellow and Director of the Engaging Tradition Project at the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, Columbia Law School; and Bianca Wilson, Senior Scholar of Public Policy at The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law. The group laid bare the goals of the LGBTQ Poverty Collaborative, a project founded in the summer of 2014.

While seeking to improve the economic security of those within this community, the Collaborative also seeks to clear the misconception that there is a vast amount of wealth held by everyone who identifies as LGBTQ. Sloan and partners presented astounding statistics of why this misconception is not only false; but as he and co-contributors explained the factors that contribute to  the growth of this “invisible”group of people within the LGBTQ community.

“LGBTQ people living in poverty are invisible. There’s a reason for that: the LGBTQ movement has made faster progress than any movement in the history of the United States on civil rights. And we did so by allowing the media’s images of us as wealthy and powerful to be our main narrative, despite the fact that in reality we are disproportionately affected by poverty. As we continue making progress toward marriage equality and toward medical advancements in HIV treatment, it is time to help our friends living in poverty in LGBTQ to gain the visibility they need to move out of poverty, and to break down the external systems of prejudice and discrimination that keep them trapped therein. It is also time to help our community realize the depth of need, and to have ‘LGBTQ people take better care of those in need in LGBTQ.’”

To combat this untruth and to spur action, the Collaborative detailed a two-year plan that emphasizes research, policy development and coalition building to bring the issue of poverty within LGBTQ community to the forefront of the LGBTQ movement. Representatives from foundations and corporations were in attendance at the meeting, including but not limited to, the BMO Harris Foundation, Chicago Community Trust, Chicago Foundation for Women, MacArthur Foundation, McCormick Foundation, Pierce Family Foundation, Kinowerks Foundation, Prince Charitable Trust and Polk Brothers Foundation. Jim McDonough on behalf of Alphawood Foundation committed $100,000 over 2 years and Jay Paul Deratany of The Deratany Firm committed $50,000 over 3 years to launch the efforts.

With pilot programs set to debut in Chicago later on this year, the $864, 388 goal to push this initiative into the national spotlight already seems more than attainable. Click here to read more about the LGBTQ Poverty Initiative.