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LGBTQI people are more likely than their peers to live in poverty

LGBTQI people are more likely than their peers to live in poverty, according to a report that shows how indicators of economic disparity including food insecurity, housing instability, low-wage earning potential and unemployment and under-employment are all heightened for LGBTQI communities.

The glam may be covering up the harsh truth?

Forget the “pink wealth” associated with the LGBTQI community members, since LGBTQI people are more likely than their peers to live in poverty, according to a report from the LGBTQ Poverty Collaborative, which shows how indicators of economic disparity including food insecurity, housing instability, low-wage earning potential and unemployment and under-employment are all heightened for LGBTQI communities.

In “Intersecting Injustice: Addressing LGBTQ Poverty and Economic Justice for All: A National Call to Action”, it was found that – in the US alone – one in four LGBTQI people—approximately 2.2 million people—did not have enough money to feed themselves or their families during some period.

Specifically, the report found that 25% of LGBTQI people experienced a period over the last year when they did not have enough money to feed themselves or their family, compared to 18% of non-LGBTQI people.

The figures worsen when race and age is considered.

Thirty-seven percent of black LGBTQI individuals said they did not have enough money to feed themselves or their family. Black same-sex couples are roughly three times more likely to live in poverty than white same-sex couples.

Also, elder LGBTQI people are more likely than their non-LGBTQI peers to rely on non-biological family support and care taking. This leaves them vulnerable to poverty, housing instability, and negative health outcomes.

In the years following the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York, LGBTQI people in countries like the US have made significant advancements, including successfully pushing for marriage equality and the ability to be able to openly serve in the military. However, this report’s authors believe that “advocates have created a narrative that contradicts reality”.

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“It’s been nearly 50 years since the Stonewall uprising, a series of demonstrations in New York City led by the most marginalized members of LGBTQI communities—among them a number of fierce transgender people of color and young people experiencing homelessness. In the decades since, many advocates have stood on the shoulders of those who rose up at Stonewall, cultivating an image of our community that is wealthy, white, male, and monogamously partnered. This intentional cultivation was in some part a response to conservative attacks on our community that painted us as anti-family, but in equal parts it was a call to our community to assimilate into the cultural norms defined by our detractors and a perpetuation of racism and class bias,” part of the report stated.

In the Philippines, this has already repeatedly been noted, often because only the issues of the privileged class gets mainstream media attention as well as loud support from many of the existing Metro Manila-based LGBTQI organizations.

In 2015, for instance, trans woman Veejay Floresca made news by complaining that she was refused entry into the luxury Valkyrie Club. Except for her appearances in mainstream media outlets, Floresca was absent in other related LGBTQI events then to now.

But also in 2015, members of the LGBTQI community were among those illegally dismissed from their work by Tanduay Distillers Inc. in Cabuyao, Laguna. As one of their leaders, Claire, recalled, her being LGBTQI was an intersecting issue with her being a low-wage worker.

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Other noteworthy cases include the continuing commercialization of Pride parade even if many senior LGBTQI Filipinos are still homeless; and the inability of Deaf LGBTQI Filipinos to find employment even if they are qualified, thereby adding a layer of difficulty for them to make a living as both LGBTQI and differently-abled.

The researchers in the US hope that these findings will raise awareness of the issues impacting marginalized LGBTQI people, and that their needs will be better incorporated in LGBTQI advocacy.

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