Saturday, July 27, 2013

Funds for Wolfson's Freedom to Marry Pay, not SF Gay Shelter?

(Queer homeless 24-bed shelter on S. Van Ness Avenue is in Supervisor David Campos' district and needs money to open in January 2014. Credit: Rick Gerharter, Bay Area Reporter.)

Professional public relations expert Jennifer Jacobson emailed me this month with the following pitch:

I thought you would like to know about the new crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the nonprofit, Freedom to Marry. The campaign just launched and was started by four LGBT companies who are donating all of the campaign's "thank you gifts" - Wolfe Video, Sweet Travel, and

As if gay marriage efforts and Evan Wolfson's Freedom to Marry organization don't have enough funds, Jacobson is trying to use my blog to ship money to a nonprofit whose revenue in 2011 was $5 million. I was only interested in posing questions to Jacobson and had no interest in helping pay Wolfson's $213,600 salary.

If Wolfson were committed to transparency and posting the IRS 990s for FTM and FTM Action on his site, I'd link to his tax reports, but he refuses to voluntarily post the 990s as dozens of other LGBT nonprofits do on their sites.

My questions to Jacobson asked why FTM couldn't turn to FTM donors Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes and his husband Sean Eldridge and ask those super wealthy gays for the $25,000 she hoped to raise via crowdfunding, what exactly the money would go toward, could she and her colleagues instead raise funds for an LGBT homeless shelter in San Francisco's Mission District and expressed my fatigue over gay marriage pushing economic hardship many queers are dealing with off the Gay Agenda.

Jacobson replied:

I agree that there is more to be done, that this is not the only issue. The companies involved and Freedom to Marry (as well as myself personally) see marriage equality as a human issue; the more people who know about it, care about it and offer to help, the better. Is it only part of a larger narrative? Yes. Is there more that can be done to help the LGBT community? Of course. 

Why not do something different? We believe this is a key issue toward equal treatment for the LGBT community in the U.S. and this is a time in which we can have a large impact. We will of course, consider other crowdfunding campaigns in the future, but we have to start somewhere.

But while she's feeding me platitudes about equality and human issues, thousands of needy and economically-hurting queers are waiting for our issues of affordable housing, decent healthcare services, employment with a few benefits, education without crushing debt - regardless of marital status - keep wondering when our issues will be addressed.

As to your other point [about rich gays Hughes and Eldridge], I think it's valid, but we do not think anyone should simply rely on the wealthy to affect social change (though we couldn't do it without them). This campaign is about getting everyone involved; it gives everyone a chance to say they were a part of something meaningful, regardless of how much they can personally give.

Just how vague can this campaign be over all and why can't Jacobson explain what the money raised will be used for? Even if it's not for Wolfson's generous compensation package, the money will be a drop in FTM big money bucket. 

The resources expended on this crowdfunding effort would be much better put to use buying beds and toiletries for the desperately-needed queer homeless shelter in San Francisco. Let's reorganize our priorities and find a better balance to our collective gay concerns.

No comments: