Why I Ended My Fiscal Sponsorship Relationship with Persad Center

My fiscal sponsorship relationship with Persad Center has formally ended. I made the decision earlier in the fall after two specific incidents made me aware beyond a shadow of a doubt that allying the #AMPLIFY and other community art projects with the current incarnation of Persad was both unhealthy and hurtful to my LGBTQ neighbors.

I had hoped to walk away quickly, but even that process was tumultuous and disorderly because of the internal chaos at the organization. I anticipated feeling sadness and regret over closing this chapter of my work, but I just feel overwhelming relief that it is finally done. And that makes me feel sad. I regret not leaving sooner, but it took a swift kick to help me see that being without a fiscal sponsor was the only ethical choice for me.

My friends they wash the windows and they shine in the sun
They tell me wake up early in the morning sometime
See what a beautiful job we done
I say let’s put on some tunes sing along do little all day
Go sown to the riverside take off our shoes wash these sins away
The river said la la la
Shame on you

Jay Yoder was fired the very day after they and I arranged to meet to work on some grant applications for AMPLIFY. Their post on Facebook confirmed some suspicions many of us had.

This comment in particular resonated painfully with me

I was directed to apologize to Delta Foundation for saying Persad would sponsor People’s Pride. I made the call. Delta’s representative scolded me and told me the organizers of People’s Pride were not the “right” People of Color to be working with in LGBTQ communities.

Another reckoning moment for me came while watching Facebook live video recorded by Ciora Thomas on October 13. I’m watching and nodding as she’s describing some of her concerns when suddenly she said my name. Full stop by me. She spoke about receiving AMPLIFY’s sponsorship check for People’s Pride the same day Persad said that they froze all accounts. That check authorized by me to support People’s Pride in the name of AMPLIFY came through Persad. And she pointed out it was public knowledge that Persad was the fiscal sponsor for our projects.

That hit me hard. I’m grateful, I guess, to have helped her put the pieces together and she certainly wasn’t blaming me. But I don’t want my name and the projects I work so hard on to be that directly tied to oppression of the voices of Black trans women and other QTPOC.

It was a wake up call that I needed to find a new way of doing this work. So I set up several meetings with people who could advise me. And I decided that pulling the plug was necessary for me personally and for the integrity of these projects. The compromise was no longer one I could rationalize.

I go down to Chicano City park
Cause it makes me feel so fine
And when the weeds go down you can see up close
In the dead of the winter time

But when the summer comes everything’s in bloom
And you wouldn’t know it’s there
And the white folks like to pretend it’s not
But their music’s in the air

So we are without a fiscal sponsor right now and that has to be okay. I have a plan that will take about six months to implement so we may be shifting around some of our priorities to accommodate that timeframe. #AMPLIFY will continue accepting Q&A’s and promoting the existing contributions. But we won’t be able to move to the next level of processing the data and information without a 501c3 so that will be postponed by at least a year. That’s unfortunate because we have a pretty substantive database of qualitative information that could be useful for all of us.

I am still a patient-client at Persad Center. I deliberately use the word patient because a healthcare relationship gives me certain rights within the organizational framework and I feel so uncomfortable there that it seems necessary to keep reminding everyone of that boundary. My choices to find the care that is appropriate for me are very limited so stripping away all of my connections with Persad except that one was one of the few ways I could limit their influence in my life.

I wish I could say good things about the organization and their support in helping us get to this point. But the compromises and chaos in the organization just makes that insincere. I’ll give them credit for their work, but the trauma and damage inflicted by the current Board of Directors is so insidious, so vicious, so deeply embedded in racial injustice that I can’t actually think of anything positive to say. I’m nowhere near as magnaminous as Jay Yoder or as to-the-point as Ciora Thomas here because I feel a real and lasting personal pain. I’m ashamed I didn’t leave sooner.

I no longer stand with Persad. I don’t want the organization to merge with Allies or to go under, not without a clear and transparent accounting with the LGBTQ community. I need the clinical services they offer, services I cannot find anywhere else in this region. I’ll develop a Plan B, I always do. But I don’t know that I can forgive the people who work at and serve on the board of Persad who continue to shirk responsibility for their actions. I doubt that my forgiveness is even a concern for anyone but my own conscience.

Let’s go road block trippin’ in the
Middle of the night up in Gainesville town
There’ll be blue lights flashing down the long dirt road
When they ask me to step out
They say we be looking for illegal immigrants can we check your car
I say you know it’s funny I think we were on the same boat back in 1694

I said ooh la la
Shame on you

It is frightening to be without the safety net of a fiscal sponsor and have so much on the line. I question how we get from here to the next phase of our growth, but we’ve made our way quite well since December 2005 when this blog first came to life.

If you would like to join us, we have options for you to make a recurring investment or a one-time donation. Both are helpful. Our archives are so large that we’ve outgrown almost every webhosting option and must move to a semi self-hosted server and hire a monthly manager. That requires funding, of course. We have monthly fees to be able to curate and share content. The list goes on and on.

If you can help us continue to do the important work while we restructure and build a more appropriate foundation for our community art projects, thank you. When People’s Pride returns in 2020, we will again be a sponsor at whatever level we can afford. And we will continue to invest in queer and trans programming that rejects the undue influence of corporatized gay Pittsburgh.

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