This past week, WESA aired two segments addressing an often overlooked issue in the LGBTQ community – poverty.
Deanna Garcia put together a solid segment focusing squarely on poverty, using data from The Williams Institute as well as interviews with local leaders. She interviewed a local lesbian who is disabled and living on Social Security. Lynn spoke about the importance of her local food pantry to help her eat and the expense of her medications. In her words “it is a full-time job living without a job.”
Later, Essential Pittsburgh devoted 30 minutes to the unique challenges facing our community elders as they age. His guests were Kathi Boyle who coordinated older adult programs for Persad Center and Buzz Pusateri, a long time activist on LGBTQ and HIV issues who is now in his mid-seventies. Buzz recently moved into a senior community and spoke with eloquence about the programs and supports he relies on for a good quality of life. He also talked candidly about some of the challenges such as having to come out again to neighbors who might be hostile.
It was a solid segment, but also a little harrowing to think about how many barriers our elders face to age with grace, support and dignity for who they really are. We need to have these conversation because MOST of us are not going to retire to Florida or anywhere.
I often criticize the media for their coverage of LGBTQ issues, so I want to take time to point out how I think WESA got this right
- Language – this station once upon a time described as a homosexuals. Now they are having internal discussions about which acronym is most appropriate, how to balance self-identity with clarity, and so forth. That’s a tremendous change and a real testament to their realization that queer identity is complicated. Investing the effort to be fair and accurate is all we can ask.
- Background – I know that Deanna and the producers at Essential Pittsburgh did their homework. They integrated reputable research with a general understanding of the larger issues. Deanna’s segment included several diverse voices that often don’t get a chance to speak.
- Respect – It wasn’t easy to find people willing to talk about their experiences with poverty. WESA was willing to let Lynn just use her first name to give her some dignity as she shared very intimate details of her life. That opens the door to future conversations.
- Context – both segments referenced marriage equality, but focused much more intimately on the impact of economic equality and discrimination on the lives of people living in poverty.
Be sure to listen to the segment for yourself. I think you’ll learn something.