More than 22% of LGBTQ+ adults are affected by poverty and food insecurity, meaning this community is more than twice as likely to be affected by hunger. People like Susan, who came to a Second Harvest Mobile Pantry with her wife, son, and granddaughter. Bianca Wilson, a top educator on public policy and social work from the Williams Institute of the UCLA School of Law, argues hunger impacts the LGBTQ+ community in various and nuanced ways.
Susan has rheumatoid arthritis and can’t stand for long periods. So, she can’t work. Susan says, “They refused me disability for my rheumatoid arthritis. This food is very helpful.” While Susan and her family may not be able to get assistance from traditional avenues, her family can always turn to Second Harvest for help.
While the causes of increased poverty rates for LGBTQ+ people are not entirely understood, Bianca theorizes it could be due to LGBTQ+ people being more likely to move to “adulthood with a lack of family financial resources” as opposed to their cishet counterparts. This, coupled with general discrimination and hiring practices, can lead to a system that almost predisposes LGBTQ+ people to poverty.
Bianca says that some trans and gay people have difficulty getting approved for WIC applications due to the government’s black-and-white understanding of gender and sexuality. Also, SNAP benefits are impacted by a person’s marital status and whether they have legal guardianship of children – both factors have a long and complicated history for the LGBTQ+ community.
Hunger in the LGBTQ+ community is a staggering and complex issue. This Pride Month we must remember that all of our neighbors in need deserve help regardless of how they identify.