Thursday, February 9, 2012

Op-ed: Our Groups Need More Color in Their Rainbow

via Advocate, by Jimmy Nguyen op-ed contributor

The rainbow flag, the very the symbol of gay pride, represents both our aspirations and the diversity of our population. 

Yet the top of the gay community’s rainbow — the leadership tier of LGBT non-profit organizations — is more awash in white than any other color. 

At the executive director position, LGBT groups have historically been led almost exclusively by white men. 

A step down at the board level, gay non-profits have tried for years to recruit members who better match the racial diversity of America.

After all this time talking about the need for greater racial inclusion, it’s time LGBT entities did better in finding leaders who represent the full spectrum of colors.

The figures are troubling, especially at the very top.  In 2008, only 4% of executive directors of LGBT organizations were people of color.

That figure comes from The Pipeline Project, a group formed to develop LGBT leaders who reflect our multicultural, multiethnic community. 

It is a far cry from the 36% of the U.S. population who self-identifies as a racial minority.  And our 4% is one-third less than non-profit groups in general. 

While I have not come across more recent statistics, it’s hard to imagine racial diversity among executive directors has dramatically improved in the past few years.

Executive directors act as faces to the public of their organizations and the overall LGBT movement; it is critical that those faces be as diverse as possible.

Because the LGBT population is itself a minority group, it is sadly ironic that our organizations need their own diversity initiatives.

In the boardroom, the picture is better but still lacking.  At the major LGBT non-profit entities, only 25% of board members are racial minorities, according to the 2011 annual National LGBT Movement Report released by the Movement Advancement Project, which studies the health of LGBT organizations. 

Despite efforts to improve board diversity, the 25% figure has not materially changed from the prior year.  While the MAP study does not capture data from all gay non-profit entities, it represents a good cross-section.

The 2011 report (summarizing 2010 data) covered 40 of the most prominent groups that collectively control 71% of the budgets from known gay organizations. 

Luckily, LGBT non-profit entities are doing well at the staff level. 

MAP found that 32% of staff members at participating organizations identify themselves as people of color.

This more closely tracks with the 36% figure for the U.S. population.

Why is the leadership of our LGBT organizations so awash in white?  Let’s begin with the elephant in the room. 

The gay community needs to be more racially inclusive – not just in its organizational structures and political strategies, but in its social fabric. 

Ethnic minority groups still are not as integrated into the gay world as they should be. 

That isn’t to say Caucasian people have no racial minority friends, but it is a fair observation that their social circles tend to be less racially diverse. 

This spills over into the milieu of “A-gay” charity events, where the people who historically run the show (often gay white men) invite people they know (usually more gay white men than racial minorities) to attend, contribute money or support in other ways. 

Trust me, I’ve showed up at many gay fundraisers to find myself as an Asian man just one amongst a limited number of racial minority people in the ballroom.  That results in fewer people of color getting exposure to the good work of LGBT organizations.

In turn, this affects boardroom composition. With leaders of LGBT entities being less diverse, so too are their social circles, which they reach out to for recruiting prospective board members. 

This leads to a spiraling cycle that makes it difficult for non-profit groups to improve their ethnic diversity.
Adding to the challenge is the money factor. For executive directors and board members, a big part of their job is to solicit donations from people who have money or strong business relationships to leverage. 

That immediately starts filtering out some people of color from the contact list.  There are, of course, many LGBT racial minorities who are professionally successful. 

But it’s the cold hard truth that an income disparity still exists in America between whites and racial minorities (irrespective of sexual orientation) even with the same level of educational attainment. 

This monetary discrepancy leaves racial minorities less likely to be invited into LGBT leadership.  I’ve experienced this myself during my time on an LGBT board. 

I would look through my contact list to see who amongst my friends had the financial means to make a significant donation or had business contacts that would be valuable. 

Fewer of my racial minority friends fit that bill than my Caucasian colleagues.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having gay, white men at the top (just as there is nothing inherently wrong with straight, white male leaders). 

But we need more color not just for atmospherics; we need itto help win the gay civil rights movement. 

Read the rest

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

select key words

2007 National HIV Prevention Conference 2009 National LGBTI Health Summit 2011 LGBTI Health Summit 2012 Gay Men's Health Summit 2012 International AIDS Conference abstinence only ACT Up activism advocacy Africa african-american aging issues AIDS AIDS Foundation of Chicago anal cancer anal carcinoma anal health anal sex andrew's anus athlete ball scene bareback porn barebacking bathhouses bears big bold and beautiful Bisexual Bisexual Health Summit bisexuality black gay men black msm blood ban blood donor body image bottom Brian Mustanski BUTT Center on Halsted Charles Stephens Chicago Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus Chicago Task Force on LGBT Substance Use and Abuse Chris Bartlett chubby chaser circumcision civil rights civil union Coaching with Jake communication community organizing condoms Congress crystal meth dating dating and mating with alan irgang David Halperin David Munar depression disclosure discrimination domestic violence don't ask don't tell douche downlow Dr. James Holsinger Dr. Jesus Ramirez-Valles Dr. Rafael Diaz Dr. Ron Stall drag queen Ed Negron emotional health ENDA Eric Rofes exercise Feast of Fun Feel the love... female condom fitness Friday is for Faeries FTM gay culture gay identity gay latino gay male sex gay marriage gay men gay men of color gay men's health Gay Men's Health Summit 2010 gay pride gay rights gay rugby gay sex gay youth gender harm reduction hate crime HCV health care health care reform health insurance hepatitis C HIV HIV care HIV drugs HIV negative HIV positive HIV prevention HIV stigma HIV strategic plan HIV testing hiv vaccine HIV/AIDS homophobia homosexuality hottie hotties how are you healthy? Howard Brown Health Center HPV human rights humor hunk Illinois IML immigration International AIDS Conference international mr. leather internet intimacy IRMA Jim Pickett leather community leathersex Leon Liberman LGBT LGBT adoption LGBT culture LGBT health LGBT rights LGBT seniors LGBT youth LGBTI community LGBTI culture LGBTI health LGBTI rights LGBTI spirituality LGV LifeLube LifeLube forum LifeLube poll LifeLube subscription lifelube survey Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano love lube lubricant Lymphogranuloma Venereum masturbation mental health microbicides middle Monday Morning Perk-Up MRSA MSM music National AIDS Strategy National Gay Men's Health Summit negotiated safety nutrition One Fey's Tale oral sex Peter Pointers physical health Pistol Pete pleasure PnP podcast policy politics poppers porn post-exposure prophylaxis PrEP President Barack Obama Presidential Campaign prevention Project CRYSP prostate prostate cancer public health public sex venues queer identity racism Radical Faerie recovery rectal microbicides relationships religion research safe sex semen Senator Barack Obama sero-adaptation sero-sorting seroguessing sex sexual abuse sexual addiction sexual health sexual orientation Sister Glo Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence smoking social marketing spirituality STD stigma stonewall riots substance abuse treatment substance use suicide super-bug superinfection Susan Kingston Swiss declaration syphilis Ted Kerr Test Positive Aware Network testicle self-examination testicular cancer testing The "Work-In" The 2009 Gay Men's Health Agenda Tony Valenzuela top Trans and Intersex Association trans group blog Trans Gynecology Access Program transgender transgender day of remembrance transgendered transmen transphobia transsexual Trevor Hoppe universal health care unsafe sex vaccines video violence viral load Who's That Queer Woof Wednesday writers yoga You Tube youtube