• R E J Saunders

LGBTQI+ poverty


It is an underappreciated, socially not discussed, fact that many LGBTQI+ folk live at or below the poverty line. While there are plenty of successful queer folk, the sad reality is that there are too many non-cis/non-het people living below the breadline simply because of their queerness. Yes, poverty is endemic in many countries and being queer is not necessarily a direct ticket to the social back of the line, but for too many people their sexuality and gender lock them out of the social good simply because other members of our society deem them unter menschen, not worthy of a chance, or even life.


This socially driven penury disproportionally impacts people of colour, people of the wrong caste, children of religious families. Indeed, queer kids who for the dint of loving the wrong person or claiming bodily autonomy find themselves cast adrift and shunned. This is a global issue, one which can end on the gallows in the wrong place. Being queer is seen as other often because other social ills are piled up and ignored. Why solve the hard structural problems when ostracising a few trans folk will rile up the masses?

Poverty is not a problem of the soul, nor is it simply fixed by hard work, for there are many hard working folk who still remain hand to mouth. It would be glib of me to offer easy solutions, yet when it comes to outcasting queer folk that one is straight forward, should we wish it. See queer folk as part of the natural tapestry, see them as more than gutter trash, and provide all LGBTQI+ folk with the same equity of opportunity that cis/het folk have. Tackle the endemic entrenched racism while you are at. For no gallows ever solved a problem like love and inner self-knowledge.


Being queer is not a sin, original or otherwise. That folk get thrown out of homes, fired from jobs, and jailed simply for being their authentic selves says more about the world than it does about us. We are not the scraps to be left behind; we are the scientists, pilots, sex workers, artists, politicians, poets… all the wonderful potential you have if we are given the chance. Our lives are rich and varied, and by pushing so many of us into poverty you subvert and twist that potential until the only things we have left are the very things you condemn.


No-one sets out to be poor, for poverty is no more a mindset than being rich. Queer folk deserve the same chance to thrive or fail without the added barriers of sexuality and gender. Systemic issues start because one part of society is taught to fear another, generationally led to see a minority as less worthy than the whole. This insidious othering creeps and winds it through out cultures, no society is immune to it, no nation pure of spirit. Tackling poverty, tackling homophobia, making transphobia an historic relic take courage and foresight. Courage to stand up to centuries of ingrained hostility, foresight to see a better tomorrow.


There is no tomorrow that is free from non-het attraction or non-cis bodies. We have been here all along, just that now we are loudly vocal, passionate in rising out of the dirt we were forced into, and demanding that the destitute are raised up. Being queer is not a sin, and we should not be treated like it is. No-one deserves indignity or squalor, and we all live in societies that can raise each of us up if we worked together to achieve such a thing. It takes more than words and actions, it takes a conscious decision to consign hate and prejudice to the dumpster fire of history. There are no easy solutions, yet by tackling the systemic root causes LGBTQI+ poverty we can begin to move on from a shameful part of our culture and present.

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