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One of the largest organizations dedicated to improving the health of gays and lesbians worldwide is the Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC). GMHC is a not-for-profit, volunteer-supported, community-based organization that is committed to fighting AIDS as well as educating all members of the public about HIV.
According to their website, www.gmhc.org, their mission is to:
When the British band Queen's lead singer Freddie Mercury died from an AIDS-related illness in November 1991, the rest of the band members and their manager devoted themselves to raising funds and awareness about AIDS. The result is The Mercury Phoenix Trust, which they launched in 1992 with a Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS. Since its inception, the Mercury Phoenix Trust has donated £8 million (about US $16 million) in the fight against AIDS by offering over 600 grants to AIDS awareness and research charities worldwide. For more information, visit www.MercuryPhoenixTrust.com.
Beyond our national borders, other organizations are working for the rights of gays and lesbians. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) works to ensure “human rights of all people and communities subject to discrimination or abuse on the basis of sexual orientation or expression, gender identity or expression, and/or HIV status.” The organization is based in the United States, but does reach-out efforts world wide. They are a non-profit NGO (non-governmental organization) that employs education, advocacy, and documentation among other methods to promote their mission of human rights. For more on IGLHRC, go to www.iglhrc.org.
As we age, gays and lesbians need to have more protection than ever. That is why GLARP – the Gay and Lesbian Association of Retiring Persons, Inc. – was developed. This non-profit corporation is dedicated to encourage LGBT individuals and partners as well as gay-friendly businesses to volunteer their “time, talent and money to enhance our aging experience through development of GLBT retirement communities and education on aging issues.” In addition, GLARP works to educate the general public as well as the LGBT community about the aging experience. For more, go to www.GayLesbianRetiring.org.
One of the most popular gay and lesbian organizations is GLAAD, The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. From celebrity endorsements to media action programs, GLAAD actively promotes “fair, accurate and inclusive representation of people and events in the media as a means of eliminating homophobia and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.” Check out their website to get the latest on gay and lesbian media news as well as to read articles about how you can get active in your own community: www.glaad.org.
The Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists (AGLP) is an organization made up of professional psychiatrists, psychiatry residents, and medical students. They assist the gay and lesbian community by helping them take care of their mental health. They work within their field to assist not only members of the LGBT community, but to act as an outreach service to the public at large, educating people about the concerns of lesbians and gay men. The AGLP opposes discriminatory practices against gay men and lesbians, and promotes supportive, well-informed psychiatric care for lesbian and gay patients. They have also developed affiliation and collaboration opportunities among psychiatrists who share the same concerns. To learn more about AGLP, visit www.aglp.org.
Besides GMHC (Gay Men's Health Crisis), there is another medical organization that deals with the health and education of the LGBT community and the public at large. The Gay and Lesbian medical Association (GLMA) was originally open only to physicians, residents, and students, but as of 2002 has expanded to include tens of thousands of LGBT health professionals and LGBT patients. In their membership, there are around 1,000 health professionals who reside and work in most US states and several countries. Their health care disciplines include “internal medicine, family practice, psychiatry, pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, emergency medicine, neurology and infectious diseases.” For more, go to www.glma.org.
Because so many gays and lesbians work for our federal government, their rights need to be protected. This need led to the foundation of GLOBE (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Employees of the Federal Government). Their goal is to “eliminate prejudice and discrimination in the federal government based on sexual orientation.” This is accomplished through educational programs for those employees of the federal government who are also members of the LGBT community, as well as by educating the general public and policy makers about LGBT issues. Visit their website, www.fedglobe.org, for more information.
Getting political about your rights as a member of the LGBT community may seem like a given. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc. (NGLTF, Inc.) is here to help. Founded in 1973, the LGNTF “works to build the grassroots political power of the LGBT community to win complete equality.” They accomplish their goal through grassroots lobbying to defeat anti-LGBT legislation and pass pro-LGBT legislation. They also provide services by analyzing and reporting on the positions that public office candidates hold, in their relation to the LBGT community. To get involved, visit www.TheTaskForce.org.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|