LGBTQ

Magui Rubalcava Shulman discusses the work Borealis Philanthropy is doing to support constituency-led organizations, outlining why that focus is crucial and discussing how the Scrivner Award, which she won in 2003, helps broaden philanthropy to include those areas that may at first seem risky.

Throughout the month of June, we remember and honor those affected by the tragedy in Orlando. We lift up those who have worked to recover, aided by the many who have contributed funds, time, and energy to the communities that were impacted. We also celebrate the many achievements of the LGBTQ community and the advancements made toward LGBTQ equality.

In the United States, LGBTQ History Month is celebrated during the month of October. It is an annual observance of LGBTQ history, and the history of the gay rights and related civil rights movements. LGBTQ History Month was first celebrated in 1994. Among the early supporters and members of the first coordinating committee for LGBT History Month was Council on Foundations Board Member and Arcus Foundation Executive Director, Kevin Jennings.

I started this blog post earlier in the month to recognize June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month, but the tragedy in Orlando rightly caused the Council and my blog post to change course. As June comes to a close, it seems fitting to celebrate the LGBTQ community and the steps which our society has taken on its journey toward full equality.

The year I was born, 1963, being gay was officially deemed a mental illness by the medical establishment. Same-sex relationships were illegal in every state, save Illinois. The federal government maintained a policy that prohibited the hiring of "known perverts,” then referring to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans.

Social change transpires at a blistering pace, in both promising and discouraging trajectories. After growing up in isolation in South Dakota and cutting my teeth decades ago as an LGBTQ human rights activist, I’m gob-smacked and elated by today’s Supreme Court decision.

While we wait with great hope for a positive outcome on nationwide marriage equality from the U.S. Supreme Court, we in philanthropy must recognize that when it comes to LGBTQ rights, one favorable court decision or one great television season are not going to address the lingering problems of discrimination, health disparities, poverty, and homelessness that LGBTQ people face.

Americans donated an estimated $335 billion to charitable causes, and foundations an estimated $50 billion in 2013 according to Giving USA. These numbers validate President John F. Kennedy’s notion that philanthropy is “a jewel of an American tradition.”