A Happy Thanksgiving addendum to my ongoing passion today:
The social media campaign to use the anti-gay campaign of the reality TV show family of Arkansas’s Jim Bob Duggar to win contrarian support for a Little Rock organization, luciesplace.org, that serves homeless LGBT youths, has now attracted national columnist Dan Savage.
That campaign, which had raised $1,000 for Lucie’s Place when I pitched in this morning, is now ove
r $7,000 $20,000. I expect it to grow exponentially with Savage’s deep look at the issue and Lucie’s Place and an interview with Penelope Poppers, the Little Rock theatrical lighting technician who’s been the angel of this project for abandoned kids for years.
I am most happy.
Savage talks to Poppers about her mission.
“Everybody pays attention to Chicago, New York, California,” Poppers said. “People never think about places in Arkansas or other places in the South. We get forgotten down here. But LGBT homelessness isn’t just a big-city problem. It’s a problem in every city across the country. It’s a big problem here in the South.”
Right now, Lucie’s Place provides counseling, support, toiletries, bus passes, and phone minutes to homeless LGBT youth. In the future they hope to provide transitional housing.
“Nearly every single person who got kicked out by parents or guardian, they’ve been told by their parents that they don’t want a sinner living under their roof,” Poppers said. “They’ll use wording like that. And most of the homeless shelters here in Arkansas are run by private religious institutions, mostly Baptist, and there they’re told the same thing: They’re sinners. They get kicked out of the shelters, too. A lot of times the conversations we have with homeless LGBT kids is this: ‘If you’re going to stay at this shelter, you have to lie about your gender identification or sexual orientation.’ Many of them wind up on the streets—and for some, the streets are safer than the shelters.”
I asked Poppers what she thought of the Duggars.
“I honestly hadn’t spent much time thinking about them before this,” she said. “I didn’t used to have an opinion of them, but I now have a negative opinion of them. The only thing I know about them is that they hate LGBT people.”
And who is Lucie?
“Lucie was a good friend of mine who passed away several years ago,” said Popper. “She was 20. She was trans, and for many [she was] the first trans person they had ever met. So she had to deal with a lot of garbage growing up as herself. She had an amazing spirit and never let anything get her down and was always incredibly open and giving. Homelessness was not something she had encountered—her mother is actually on the board of Lucie’s Place—but the name is a memorial for her.”
I think that a shelter could be in reach with Savage’s message. They started with nothing and, until now, have operated on about $7,500 a year. All you need to do is go to their website with a credit card. If the Duggars can spend $10,000 of their reality TV riches to promote discrimination against gay people in Fayetteville, surely the world of more generous people can match that with an equal amount of love for all.
UPDATE: Lucie’s Place now says (early evening Thanksgiving) the count has hit $20,000. Let’s double the Duggars. Thank you, Jim Bob and Michelle and Chase and Jerry Cox and all the other haters in Arkansas.
UPDATE: By the time the weekend was over, the drive had raised $25,000. More than double the Duggars’ contribution to gay discrimination in Fayetteville. A good weekend of work.