When most people think of volunteering, their visions may include soup kitchen line-ups, political organizing, sporting events, curbside trash programs, and church or community events. While these are true and real ways to volunteer, there are many other areas where the gay community needs your help. Most LGBT+ committees are built on the foundations of non-profits. Whether it is for LGBT+ health, social services, housing, food programs, community outreach, and queer film festivals, there is a non-profit within an arms reach for you to be a volunteer.
Some stereotypes, particularly about gay men being wealthy and having disposable incomes, affect our own communities’ perceptions of poverty. Many in the LGBT+ community live below the poverty line and must access food banks. Other people volunteer for organizations that work with LGBT+ refugees. In a world of competing interests, here are 7 reasons to volunteer for the LGBT+ community:
1. It feels good and it is sexy
2. You meet great people with shared values
3. It reminds us to be thankful for what we have
4. It’s a great way to show employers that you give back and you care
5. Expertise is needed on boards and on committees to keep our community strong
6. Not-for-profit organizations are one of the backbones of our LGBT+ community
7. It creates legacies of caring for each other and models the way
Many people like the idea of volunteering but don’t know where to start. It can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Consider what things you care about, whether it is poverty, healthcare access, anti-bullying campaigns, seniors, or youth programs. There is a relevant non-profit in your community. Most have applications and it’s helpful to get clear about why you care in advance and how much time and the types of services you can offer. The most important piece to volunteering is getting clear about what can you commit to and then following through. The rest just makes you feel great.