When the holiday season puts you in a giving spirit, it’s tempting to just dropping some cash into one of those bell-ringer’s red kettles. But the Salvation Army has a troubled relationship with the LGBT community: The fourth-largest charity in the U.S., the Salvation Army is a Christian church whose official doctrine states that marriage is only valid between a man and a woman. For decades the Salvation Army explicitly condemned homosexuality, even linking to organizations offering conversion therapy from its website (a practice it didn’t stop until 2013).
But in the not-so-distant past, it’s also been accused of refusing to hire gay employees, turning away LGBT people in need, and discriminating against trans patients at its drug rehab centers and homeless shelters.
When it comes to feeding and housing those in need, there’s no shortage of organizations that are underfunded. Here are six suggestions for LGBT-affirming organizations to donate this holiday season instead of the Salvation Army:
The True Colors Fund
An estimated 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT, often because they were rejected by their families after coming out. Homeless LGBT people often report having trouble finding shelters where they feel safe being out, so overtly LGBT-friendly shelters are critical. The True Colors Fund, which was co-founded by Cyndi Lauper, provides training and education for service providers like homeless shelters and soup kitchens across the nation on how to become safe, identity-affirming places for LGBT youth in need.Getty Images
The Montrose Center in Houston
In preparation for Hurricane Harvey, Houston’s Montrose Center launched a relief fund to help displaced LGBT community members. The LGBT advocacy organization raised over a million dollars, and as of November, more than 1,000 people who lost their homes or property had signed up for assistance. Donations will allow them to continue helping the most vulnerable people in the region affected by the hurricane, which include homeless LGBT youth, seniors, and those living with HIV.
Project Chicken SoupGetty
Project Chicken Soup delivers free kosher meals to people living with HIV/AIDS in the greater L.A. area.
The Ali Forney Center in New York
Dolores Street Community Services
Dolores Street Community Services in San Francisco focuses on serving immigrants, providing emergency shelter and nightly meal services, with 24 beds allocated specifically to members of the LGBT community.Getty Images
LGBT advocacy group Freedom Oklahoma in Oklahoma City was attacked by gunfire earlier this year. No one was hurt, but the damage was expensive. LGBT centers in small cities and rural areas where other resources for the community are scare are especially necessary, and especially vulnerable, so donations go a long way.
For more options, consider donating to your nearest LGBT-affirming soup kitchen or homeless shelter, to an assistance fund at an LGBT-friendly addiction rehab center, or to one of the many LGBT centers that were attacked in 2017.