Les Beehive – How the Salvation Army helped me
Please don’t allow the poor or homeless, struggling to keep a home, or keep warm without a home this winter to suffer because the Salvation Army is a religious organization who has been known to discriminate against homosexuals. I am an atheist queer making this plea. I promise you, if you give to the Salvation Army, what you give will help. Let’s make helping the gay homeless a whole separate issue that should not be focused directly on the Salvation Army, because there are gay teens out there right now, homeless because they were kicked out of their homes, addicts because they weren’t able to properly deal with the struggles surrounding being gay. There are homosexuals who are in cold weather shelters who are going to be abused. The abuse homosexuals suffer doesn’t stop at the discrimination from the Salvation Army, or Christian organizations, but it is not condoned by giving to the helping faction of these organizations. When I give to the Salvation Army, I know what I give will go to delighting a child the way I was 25 years ago after my family lost everything.
All that being said, if your believe strongly against giving to any organization that is religious, or that has been known for discrimination against homosexuals, don’t let that keep you from donating your time or money to other organizations. While it’s true that most large charity organizations are Christian, there are other options. I will list a few below. Remember time is as generous as money. Donate clothing, toiletries, blankets, toys, food, and time if you can’t afford cash. Spread the word to others who are boycotting the bucket that there are other options. Keep your generous spirit. It feels as good to give as it does to receive.
The organizations listed below are Canadian and British Columbia based since that’s where we live, but they’re all wonderful projects worthy of donation. Charity Village is a great site that lists many charitable organizations. There is a section on the site for LGBTQ charities.
Read Bo’s article about the Salvation Army, charity, families in need and what you can do right now to help.
I’m an at-risk youth worker who deals with a lot of abused, homeless, and LGBTQA kids, families and adults. We work very closely with and along side other organizations and societies who work with the homeless and marginalized, including the Salvation Army. It breaks my heart when I see people write them off entirely. The thing is, as imperfect as they are, the problems involved with boycotting them are way more complex than most people realize.
SA Canada and US and in other countries all have different practices and codes. Each individual location is run by different people who have differing views and ways they like to do things. In the years I have worked along side the SA in my area, I have always known them to bend over backwards for any and everyone who comes to them looking for help, without forcing any beliefs down their throats. I have known other locations to be the same. Sadly, I have also known of one that was run by a bigot who saw his job as a way to get rid of homeless rather than help them. It’s easy to forget that these places are run by people, and not everyone is the same.
Another big problem is the fact that in most areas, the SA are the only services near by who tries to keep people fed and warm. It’s easy to say that an organization is evil and no good because it has negatively affected a group you care about or identify with, but that doesn’t change the fact that without the SA hundreds and thousands of people would be going hungry and sleeping out in the cold, no one giving them a chance to try and get back on their feet. In practicality, it means very little to say “these people are bad, don’t help them” in the name of caring for people if there is nothing else planned or done in the name of actually helping or changing so that there are broader and more welcoming services available.
I’m never going to tell someone that they’re wrong for saying that they have a problem with the SA, because like any organization that’s been around as long and as wide spread as they are is likely to be flawed and have done considerable harm in some people’s lives, but if you’re jumping on this “Don’t support the bucket” campaign and you claim to honestly care about people in need, then you should at the very least be trying to find or found other services and organizations in the area to replace and do a better job than the SA before you potentially doom all the people who they do help to not receive the little support they needed to get by,