Jun 09Happy Pride Month from Mercy Housing
June is Pride Month. For many people, Pride Month means parades, festivals, and rainbow flags to show support for the LGBTQ+ community. But for LGBTQ+ people, Pride Month represents so much more.
LGBTQ+ Youth and Older Adults
According to a SAGE (Services & Advocacy for GLBTQ+ Elders), LGBTQ+ older adults are “2x as likely to be single and living alone and 4x less likely to have children.” In addition, a study conducted by the True Colors Fund, a nonprofit organization working the end homelessness in the LGBTQ+ community, revealed that 1.6 million youth are homeless each year – up to 40% of them identify as LGBTQ+.
Despite the Fair Housing Act, LGBTQ+ people experience high rates of poverty, homelessness, and lower rates of home ownership, and encounter several hurdles to securing safe, stable, and affordable housing.
In 2020, The Williams Institute released a study showing that the LGBTQ+ community, “may face not only sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination in housing, but also other forms of disadvantage, such as racial prejudice, language barriers, and inaccessibility due to a disability.”
The Openhouse Community at 55 Laguna
In 2017, Mercy Housing and Openhouse, a local San Francisco nonprofit dedicated to helping LGBTQ+ older adults to overcome the unique challenges they face as they age through housing, direct services, and community programs, celebrated the grand opening of The Openhouse Community at 55 Laguna, the first affordable housing community in the United States to offer LQBTQ+ seniors affordable housing. Featuring 40 rehabilitated apartment homes, and a community center, 55 Laguna provides LGBTQ+ seniors and formerly homeless older adults living with HIV/AIDS with safe, stable housing and onsite resident services helping them to age in place with dignity and supporting them as they reengage with the city they proudly helped build. Along with its sister property, 95 Laguna, Mercy Housing currently has roughly 119 apartment homes dedicated for LGBTQ+ seniors.
On the Horizon – 1939 Market Street LGBTQ+ Affirming Housing for Seniors
As part of Mercy Housing’s commitment to building and providing safe and affordable housing for the LQBTQ+ community, Mercy Housing California (MHC), with Openhouse as co-developer, was awarded the opportunity to develop 1939 Market Street located on a city-owned site in the Mid-Market/Castro neighborhood.
1939 Market Street is a flatiron-shaped site located at Duboce Avenue on Market Street in San Francisco. It is envisioned that the proposed new construction will add to the campus of Openhouse Community at 55 Laguna. The development will consist of studio and one-bedroom apartments serving low-income seniors, where MHC and Openhouse intend to create a welcoming community for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ elders. This development will include a small, ground-floor retail space; MHC and Openhouse’s goal is that the space is lively, community-responsive, and engaging to the neighborhood.
Did you Know?
The Rainbow Flag often seen displayed throughout Pride Month, was designed by artist Gilbert Baker. Baker, a friend of the first openly gay politician in California, Harvey Milk, originally designed the flag to take to San Francisco’s Pride March in 1978. 30 volunteers met at San Francisco’s Gay Community City, where they would hand-dye and stitch rainbow flags for the parade. When asked why he chose a rainbow of colors, Baker answered, “We needed something beautiful, something from us. The rainbow is so perfect because it really fits our diversity in terms of race, gender, and age…Plus, it’s a natural flag – it’s from the sky!”
Baker also admired the popularity of the American flag and the way it symbolized power, commemoration, and celebration during the 1976 United States bicentennial celebrations across the country.
How to be an LGBTQ+ Ally
As mentioned above, Pride Month is more than parades, flags, and festivals. Here are 10 ways that you can be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community:
- Recognize the history of the LGBTQ+ community.
- Not just to “listen,” but to “learn.”
- Gather friends. Invite your straight, cisgender, and MGBTQ+ friends and family for a get-together and engage in conversations. This can be at your house or another social setting.
- Be Inclusive. Heading out with friends? Include your LGBTQ+ friends.
- If you hear an anti-LGBTQ+ joke, speak up and explain why the joke is offensive.
- Open your Mind. We all have opinions about something. Accept that not everyone shares the same views as you do and try your best to look at things from their point of view.
- Ask questions. It’s okay to ask questions when you don’t know something or want to learn more
- Take time to read about the issues currently affecting the LGBTQ+ community.
- Become an advocate for basic human rights. Utilize social media to gain awareness. Sign petitions to help pass laws. Show that you are an ally by displaying a rainbow flag outside your home or in your workspace. Wear an LGBTQ+ ally pin.
- Attend pride celebrations and other LGBTQ community events.
For more information on how you can be an ally please visit: www.glaad.org
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