This note first appeared in the October 2015 issue of Options Magazine.
I’ve been questioning the future directions of Options and other LGBTQ nonprofit organizations. I’m confident in our organization’s decision to collaborate on some important work ahead, but some think Options should move forward without considering the larger concerns of the LGBTQ community. I find this suggestion to be self-indulgent, myopic, and detrimental to those who still struggle with their sexual orientation or gender identity. Progress is best made with concern for the collective good, not simply individual needs.
Yes, it’s important to celebrate individual or organizational accomplishments and activism, but it’s more important to have a holistic approach to solving the challenges our entire community is working toward overcoming. When you widen your perspective, you’ll find that HIV and STD infections remain prevalent; the abuse and addiction of and to alcohol and drugs impacts many; depression and anxiety have permeated our community; the coming-out process is an extremely difficult and scary experience to navigate; legal battles impacting trans people are being fought every day; and some religious institutions and elected officials are working to reverse progress that has been made.
When highlighting Options Magazine’s progress, this larger perspective is equally important. I ask you to think beyond your own connection to our publication and to remember the 30-year-old reader who is out, proud, and getting married, but nonetheless struggles with his family’s religious affiliations and lack of understanding of LBGTQ needs. Don’t forget about the 16-year-old who’s reading this issue in her local coffee shop, and for the first time in her life sees that our community is much more than a parade once a year. Don’t forget about the reader in his or her 60s who’s spent a lifetime seeking a healthy relationship but whose internal struggles have built too many walls for that to happen.
I implore you to widen your perspective and find a cause that impassions you. Be it RI Pride, Youth Pride, SAGE-RI, PFLAG, or one of the many other organizations in our community—get involved. We are all in critical need of your support. While we’ve made substantial strides in improving the quality of queer life, our work isn’t done. I’m not willing to let the nonprofits that have championed the progress of our community fade away. The purposes that queer organizations serve are just as vital and essential to us today as they’ve ever been. I hope you’ll join me in these efforts.