Emphasis on Supporting LGBTQ People of Color and Immigrants
For most of his life, Mr. Chena experienced abuse and persecution for being gay—from his family, his church, and later Mexican authorities. He ultimately made the hard decision to leave his home country of Mexico behind and come to the United States.
Mr. Chena feared that he would not be safe if he returned to Mexico due to his sexual orientation—causing him to remain in the United States despite being undocumented. When he first approached Immigration Counseling Service (ICS) in Portland, he was living on rental assistance and had no income.
ICS accepted his asylum case despite the fact that he was unable to pay. Within a year, Mr. Chena’s asylum was approved—finally allowing him to come out of the shadow of being undocumented and to live his life without fear of deportation.
Through grant funding from Pride Foundation, Immigration Counseling Service will be able to continue offering pro bono and discounted legal representation for LGBTQ immigrants like Mr. Chena.
“Immigration Counseling Service (ICS) is honored to be a first-time recipient of a grant from Pride Foundation,” said Barbara Babcock, Executive Director of Immigration Counseling Service. “This grant will ensure that ICS is not forced to turn away LGBTQ+ immigrants simply because they cannot pay—broadening access to legal representation for a community that has already experienced a great deal of hardship. We appreciate Pride Foundation’s generous support for ICS’s services to Oregon’s LGBTQ immigrant community.”
This year, Pride Foundation awarded $303,775 to 56 organizations that support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth, adults, and families in the Northwest. In Oregon, a total of $60,100 was invested in eleven organizations—four of which are focused on supporting LGBTQ people of color and immigrants.
Despite the recent progress Oregon has made in regards to legal protections for the LGBTQ community—including marriage equality and increased access to healthcare for transgender people—LGBTQ people still face heightened risks of hate crimes, poverty, homelessness, discrimination, bullying, HIV infection, and mistreatment in social and human services.
These challenges are especially acute for LGBTQ people of color and immigrants, who face striking disparities in economic security, health outcomes, and educational access. For example, Latina lesbian couples on average earn less than Latino heterosexual couples, while Latino gay men are disproportionately infected with HIV. LGBTQ immigrants also face a higher risk of physical and sexual abuse.
These disparities have a ripple effect—impacting the ability of LGBTQ Latinos to support their families and stay healthy.
The recent loss on Measure 88 in Oregon—which would have allowed immigrant families to get Driver Cards—accompanied by anti-immigrant backlash, highlighted just how far our state has to go before everyone in our community is treated justly and fairly.
By directing resources to those who remain most invisible and vulnerable, Pride Foundation’s community grants program is making an important statement about the work that lies ahead and the continued need in the LGBTQ community.
“Our grantees reflect the diversity of our community, and the breadth of issues affecting LGBTQ people throughout their lives,” said Kris Hermanns, Executive Director of Pride Foundation. “When viewed collectively, these investments paint a comprehensive picture of the road ahead—from safe schools, to workplace equality, to culturally-competent healthcare and social services, to food and housing security, to elder care.”
Grantees in Oregon will be working to reduce barriers faced in rural communities, and other priorities include people of color, immigrants, youth, transgender people, and elders.
Four of this year’s grantees have projects that are specifically focused on working with LGBTQ people of color and immigrants:
Center for Intercultural Organizing (Portland): $5,000 to build internal capacity to ensure their organizational structure emphasizes the needs of LGBTQ members and to grow the Resilient Connections group, which supports LGBTQ immigrants and refugees.
Edúcate Yá (Portland): $5,000 to support Edúcate Yá’s HIV/AIDS Health Educator Program, which delivers culturally sensitive HIV/AIDS and STI prevention in both English and Spanish to LGBTQ Latino adults, youth, and their families in the Portland Metropolitan Area (including migrant camps, rural and farmworker communities, and Latino neighborhoods).
Immigration Counseling Service (Portland): $2,500 to offer pro bono and discounted legal representation for LGBTQ immigrants who qualify for asylum and humanitarian relief based on having been the victim of a crime, or who are fleeing persecution, discrimination and abuse based on sexual identity, gender identity, or being HIV positive.
Western States Center (Portland): $5,000 to support Uniting Communities, a program that supports internal organizing to create an LGBTQ justice culture and opportunities for taking public action in organizations of color, and Activists Mobilizing for Power (AMP), a 3-day event that brings together community activists and organizational leaders for in-depth learning and exchange.
“In all that we do, we are focusing our resources and grant dollars on bridging the gap between legal victories and the ability for all LGBTQ people to be who they are, where they are,” said Hermanns. “We are honored to partner with strategic organizations and thoughtful individuals throughout our region and country that share our values and hopes for our community.”
In addition to their community grants program, Pride Foundation also makes investments in LGBTQ youth, adults, and families through a scholarship program, donor-advised, and donor-designated funds. In total, the foundation has invested nearly $7.1 million this year to support LGBTQ people in their home communities.
The full list of Pride Foundation grantees and project descriptions is available at www.pridefoundation.org/grantees.