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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 30, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 13
GetEQUAL folds after accusations of racism and transphobia
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GetEQUAL folds after accusations of racism and transphobia

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The LGBT direct action group GetEQUAL has shut down in the wake of accusations of racism and transphobia by a former employee. The group's executive director revealed that GetEQUAL had been struggling financially for some time.

GetEQUAL Executive Director Gabriel Garcia-Vera announced the group's demise on March 27. Former Movement Building and Campaign Manager Aaryn Lang accused Garcia-Vera and the GetEQUAL board of transphobia and racism in a Facebook post.

Lang urged her followers to boycott the organization, saying her 'time at GetEQUAL has been deeply disappointing.'

'I have learned so much over the last few months, but one thing I have always known is that the movement and the world need fewer people in power who are ready to abuse it for their insecure whims,' she wrote on Facebook. 'We all deserve better from the people and places that have aligned themselves with justice.'

Garcia-Vera denied Lang's allegations but said he could not discuss employee performance issues outside of the organization. He added that the boycott call had sealed the group's fate.

'Our financial assets are barely sufficient to cover our operations for more than a few weeks. Our board of directors has collapsed. Raising new revenue and rebuilding the board would be a tremendous challenge even if we weren't in the middle of a social media storm,' Garcia-Vera wrote in an open letter to the community.

'But even more importantly, I fear that our capacity to advance our mission has been undermined.

'And so, with a heavy heart, I have begun taking steps to close GetEQUAL, this organization that I love and cherish.'

GetEQUAL's priorities were 'to boldly educate, empower, and support LGBTQ communities of color to achieve policy change at the local, state, and national levels,' according to Garcia-Vera. The group rose to prominence during the fight to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell for their direct action protests and youthful exuberance.

Over the past few years, several national and local LGBTQ organizations have shut their doors, including National Stonewall Democrats, Empire State Pride Agenda, the Gill Action Fund, the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), and Freedom To Marry.

In 2010, less than 3% of LGBT adults in the US gave money to any national LGBT organizations. The majority of funding to LGBTQ organizations comes from foundations and corporations.

Even the venerable PFLAG has run into trouble. Less than a week before GetEQUAL folded, PFLAG's newly hired executive director, Jaime Grant, and its director of financing, Brian Carney, were abruptly terminated. The group hasn't yet said why they were let go.

PFLAG has been struggling financially for years, with expenses outstripping income. The group has operated with almost a million-dollar deficit for the past two years.

Grant, the former head of the National LGBTQ Task Force's Policy Institute and the founding executive director of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership, is a respected leader well known for her advocacy on behalf of people of color, youth, and sex workers.

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