You know, I like to do a little giving this time of year, but it takes some work to find out who should get your charity. The Salvation Army, and those damned bell ringers, is a bit too homophobic for my taste, but there is Toys for Tots, neighborhood canned food drives, or the local homeless shelters.
What there isn’t, though, is the Portland Rescue Mission, out in Portland, Oregon.
See, they do a coat drive each Christmas, but this year have decided they don’t want, won’t accept, gay coats. And by that I mean coats from gay people.
And this isn’t sitting well with Portland gay performer, Jeffrey Darling, AKA Fannie Mae, who was planning his fourth annual Queer Quistmas holiday bash. He was informed by the Portland Rescue Mission that they weren’t interested in sponsoring a coat-and-sweater drive at his event because it’s a “queer” event; he was told that the mission is a “faith-based organization and there was some concern with how it might come across to some of our donors.”
How it might come across? Maybe like a gay charity wanted to work with your charity to provide coats for people who don’t have them?
Jeffrey Darling: “It was a huge slap in the face. I know a lot of really amazing people who could have helped to donate to them. … Do not donate to the Portland Rescue Mission if you are queer. This is a queer city. Even the straight people are queer, because we’re all weird. … I know it’s a Christian organization, but haven’t we gotten past that? Wash them if you think they’re ‘dirty.'”
Now, a spokesman for the Portland Rescue Mission, didn’t exactly deny the story Darling is telling. Brian Merrell, who helps coordinate donation drives, left a phone message for Darling:
“Hi Jeffrey. This is Brian Merrell with Portland Mission Rescue Mission. We spoke yesterday, um, about, um, connecting for the, um…queer Christmas event, um, and I just wanted to get back to you and, um, let you know that um, I have ran that up the ladder here and unfortunately, I think we are going to need to respectively decline, um. Let me preface this by saying that we don’t, do not, discriminate services to anyone, either outreach services or recovery services, meals or anything. But we are a faith-based organization and there was some concern with how it might come across to some of our donors. That, so, um, with that we are going to have to respectively decline, although I greatly appreciate what you want to do for us.”
Wow, turning down charity, at Christmas, because the donors are gay. That’s so 1970.
But, in what may be a hopeful turn of events, maybe, Portland activist Reverend Chuck Currie spoke to the Portland Rescue Mission, and suggested they meet with LGBT advocacy group Basic Rights Oregon to understand “why this might be hurtful the gay and lesbian community.” The Rescue Mission agreed—so maybe they’re one big step closer to accepting the gay coats.
See, Portland Rescue Mission, coats are coats. They aren’t gay, and they aren’t less than coats donated by straight people.