Gay groups raise money for Haiti

Wed. January 20, 2010 12:00 AM by

Gay groups are mobilizing members and reaching out to donors to help the victims of the Haiti earthquake.

"As lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, we know and have seen the power of a family standing together in support, and the pain of it falling away," the LGBT Community Response to the Crisis in Haiti Fund says in its plea for donations. "Being part of the human family also comes with responsibility to our larger family. Today, our Haitian brothers and sisters are facing an enormous crisis and need our support."

The fund was set up by SAVE Dade, a Miami-based gay rights group.

Haitian officials estimate the loss of life from Tuesday's quake in the thousands. The 7.1 magnitude earthquake turned the city of Port-au-Prince into rubble, leaving millions homeless on the island nation.

The San Francisco-based Rainbow World Fund established its Haiti Earthquake Relief Campaign with a $50,000 gift. As the world's first and only LGBT-based humanitarian aid organization, the all-volunteer group has been involved in Haitian relief efforts since 2004.

"Rainbow World Fund's work is about serving humanity, gay and straight alike," Jeff Cotter, the group's founder, said in a statement. "LGBT people in the United States worked actively on relief efforts for Katrina and the tsunami, and we will do the same in response to the crisis in Haiti."

AIDS organization Housing Works announced on Thursday it would work with a Haitian coalition of AIDS groups to provide desperately needed medical services and supplies to HIV-positive quake victims in Haiti.

Housing Works President and CEO Charles King said his group was taking action because previous disaster relief programs had done little to address the needs of people living HIV/AIDS. Haiti, King said, has the worst HIV/AIDS rate in the Western hemisphere.

And leading gay and lesbian cruise operators say they've already raised thousands for victims of the Haiti quake. Olivia, a cruise line that specializes in lesbian travel, Atlantis and RSVP have joined forces to set up a dedicated LGBT donation site in partnership with the American Red Cross. The three companies gave an initial $37,500 to the fund, which is being managed by the Red Cross.

"Now is the time for us to lend our gay dollars to a compelling human tragedy that knows no gender or sexual orientation," Judy Dlugacz, president and founder of Olivia Companies, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine