GetEQUAL is shutting down & PFLAG may be next

GetEQUAL is shutting down & PFLAG may be next

Contributions to LGBT organizations dwindled after the marriage equality win at the Supreme Court. Two recent announcements from the groups GetEQUAL and PFLAG illustrate the issue facing the community.

GetEQUAL Executive Director Gabriel Garcia-Vera announced today that the direct action group will be shutting down immediately following a social media scandal surrounding the termination of a former staffer. Former Movement Building and Campaign Manager Aaryn Lang, accused Garcia-Vera and the board of transphobia and racism.

Lang took to Facebook to urge her followers to boycott the organization, saying her “time at GetEQUAL has been deeply disappointing.”

“I have learned so much over the last few months, but one thing I have always known is that the movement and the world need fewer people in power who are ready to abuse it for their insecure whims,” she wrote on Facebook. “We all deserve better from the people and places that have aligned themselves with justice.”

Garcia-Vera denied Lang’s allegations of discrimination, but said he couldn’t discuss employee performance issues outside of the organization. Instead, he says that the controversy has dealt a death blow to the already struggling group.

“Our financial assets are barely sufficient to cover our operations for more than a few weeks. Our board of directors has collapsed. Raising new revenue and rebuilding the board would be a tremendous challenge even if we weren’t in the middle of a social media storm,” Garcia-Vera wrote in an open letter to the community. “But even more importantly, I fear that our capacity to advance our mission has been undermined.”

“And so, with a heavy heart, I have begun taking steps to close GetEQUAL, this organization that I love and cherish.”

Meanwhile, PFLAG announced last week that newly hired Executive Director Jaime Grant and Director of Financing Brian Carney were terminated, but haven’t said why they were let go. The organization has been struggling financially for years with expenses outstripping income. The group has operated with almost a million dollar deficit for the past two years.

Grant, the former head of of the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Policy Institute and the founding executive director of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership, is a respected movement leader famous for her advocacy on behalf of people of color, youth, and sex workers.

GetEQUAL’s priorities were “to boldly educate, empower, and support LGBTQ communities of color to achieve policy change at the local, state, and national levels,” according to Garcia-Vera. The group rose to prominence during the fight to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell for their creative protests and youthful exuberance that occasionally led other community leaders to brand them as brash or naive.

Over the past few years, several national and local LGBTQ organizations have shut their doors, including National Stonewall Democrats,  Empire State Pride Agenda, the Gill Action Fund, American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and Freedom To Marry.

In 2010, less than 3% of LGBT adults in the U.S. gave money to any national LGBT organizations. The majority of funding to LGBTQ organizations comes from foundations and corporations.

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