Why Hunger and Poverty Are LGBT Issues

From the Center for American Progress

Economic insecurity

  • 20 percent: The amount of female same-sex couples who are raising children and living in poverty, compared to 9 percent of married heterosexual couples who are raising children and living in poverty
  • $41,000: The average income of Hispanic lesbian couples—the average household income of a Hispanic heterosexual couple is $44,420
  • 21.1 percent: The poverty rate of black lesbian couples versus 4.3 percent for white lesbian couples and 14.4 percent for black gay male couples
  • Twice as likely: Lesbian couples who are 65 or older are twice as likely to be poor as heterosexual married couples that are the same age.

This is why our blog has been encouraging you over the years to be aware of human services issues. These poverty stats are very telling about the realities LGBT families face in a safety net that is inadequate in general.

I’m going to spend some time exploring the impact of poverty and the human services world on LGBT persons. But let’s start with some basics.

  • Family composition determines eligibility for benefits so the legal relationships of the LGBT household does matter.
  • Many human service programs are provided by faith based or private organizations. Perceptions about their LGBT friendliness matters.
  • The myth of gay affluence = most LGBT people are not rich. We aren’t.
  • Vulnerable people usually are on the ugly end of a double whammy.
There is some amazing work being done on homelessness, housing, health issues. What I’m hoping we’ll see is better information on how to connect LGBT persons with food stamps, food pantries, clothing allotments, utility assistance and so forth.

The image I included mentions that 21% of male same-sex households raising children are living in poverty as of 2009.

That’s horrifying. We have a lot of LGBT folks who are struggling to get their basic needs met.  It is important that we as a community take a step back to identify the mechanisms most effective to address the added stressor of bigotry in addressing poverty.

Equality is the answer, but marriage will not solve these problems. Protecting people from discrimination at work, providing health insurance, sending a strong message about tolerance – these are important factors. Continuing to remove the stigma around anything LGBT is critical. When you are worried about feeding your family, you don’t need to worry how you’ll be treated by the person filling out your application for assistance.

You can help. Support organizations that provide human services to LGBT community, that don’t shy away from the word “gay” and that help.



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