The LGBTQ Equality movement has made great progress over the years, but for many, equality is still out reach. Same-sex marriage is legal, but in many states employees can be fired for being out at work. This community continues to struggle with higher than average rates of poverty, homelessness, discrimination and more. And for some, including immigrants, people of color, and those who are transgender, the rates are even higher. This discussion continues in part 2 (The Status of LGBTQ Equality).
Rea Carey, Executive Director of the LGBTQ Task Force joins Robert Traynham to discuss the Status of LGBTQ Equality and her organization’s efforts to create change.
Interview recorded on May 17, 2017. Hosted by Robert Traynham. Part 1 of 2.
Read a partial transcript of this interview below:
Traynham: For much of American history, being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender meant living a closeted life. And while the atmosphere is much more accepting today, the LGBT community continues to struggle with many issues including discrimination, homelessness, and poverty, just to name a few. Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Comcast Newsmakers.” I’m Robert Traynham. With me is Rea Carey. She is the executive director of the National LGBTQ Taskforce. Rea, thank you very much for joining us.
Carey: Thanks for inviting me, Robert.
Traynham: Let’s talk about the issues that are so important in our community. Most importantly, I believe, is discrimination. Fast-forward to 2017. How far have we come as a community?
Carey: Well, it depends on your perspective in some ways. If you grew up in the ‘40s, ‘50s, ‘60s, or ‘70s, we’ve come a long way. If you are newer to this movement, we have a long way to go. And both are true. In some ways, we have made a lot of progress. People are able to be more out in many workplaces, but not all. People are able to get married. But as we know, marriage did not solve all the problems for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families. So, in some way, we’ve come a long way, but I so appreciate your introduction because I think it’s so easy for people to have read the news over the last couple of years, see our progress — in particular, on marriage equality — and think, “Ah, things are going better.” But when we look at issues like homelessness or poverty or even immigrants, there are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people who are facing tremendous challenges.
Traynham: You know, it’s the soft underbelly, as I call it, where, yeah, it’s out there, but we don’t know a lot about it in terms of awareness. I’m not sure a lot of people know that there’s a pretty high suicide rate in the LGBTQ community and/or homelessness and/or poverty. Can you walk me through some projects and/or programs that you have at your organization to help combat some of the stigmas, also some of the unfortunate situations that we find a lot of our brothers and sisters are in?
Carey: Well, I’m so glad you use the word “stigma,” because it’s something that still exists today, whether you’re a teen at school who’s afraid to come out and how your peers or your teachers might react…
Traynham: Or your family.
Carey: Or your family, certainly. Many young people, unfortunately, are still kicked out of their homes simply because of who they are. And that still exists in the United States.
Traynham: And does that lead to the homelessness rate to a certain degree?
Carey: It certainly does. It certainly does. Also, for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families, particularly people of color, are at much higher risk for poverty in this country and homelessness. So they’re — You know, we’ve done surveys, particularly with transgender members of our community. Every single area of their lives, there is discrimination — in healthcare, in housing, in education, in their place of worship. And so, for so many people, there are no — there is no safe refuge.