LGBT RPCVs’ Annual Report for 2011 – Activities and Achievements

- Mike Learned, Group Leader (RPCV, Malawi)

This report of our activities and achievements during 2011 has been submitted to the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) as part of our reaffiliation with that organization for 2012.

Mentoring Program: Since 1994 LGBT RPCVs has managed an electronically-based Mentor Program. LGBT applicants, nominees, trainees and people curious about joining Peace Corps connect with our Mentor Program on the Mentor page of our website (www.lgbrpcv.org). We provide specific directions to readings from our website and instructions on how to direct questions and concerns to more than 600 people who post on our listserv. This continues to work well with many requests for information and support this last year. Concerns are usually about homophobia and anti-gay discrimination in host countries but also can focus on the more mundane. Sometimes there are small numbers of responses, but on occasion advice and ideas come from a dozen or more respondents. We would be happy to share with other NPCA affiliates the way our Mentor Program functions. It would work particularly well with Country of Service groups that have or would initiate a listserv.

Supporting Peace Corps at LGBT-Related Recruiting and Information Events: During 2011 LGBT RPCVs assisted regional Peace Corps offices and Headquarters staff at several recruiting and/or informational LGBT-related events around the country. This involved preparing a printed package of materials. We also located LGBT RPCVs to help staff at recruiting and information tables (most notably at Gay Pride events in the summer and fall of 2011) to answer questions and provide support for Peace Corps staff. Peace Corps staff, LGBT RPCVs and others marched as Peace Corps contingents in the Chicago, New York and Washington D.C. Gay Pride Parades. We have also assisted in supporting and communicating about Peace Corps webinars and other smaller scale events.

In 2011 we were also active in urging Peace Corps senior managers to place same-sex couples together as volunteers where their security needs could be reasonably assured.

Peace Corps’ 50th Anniversary: We cosponsored with our Washington D.C. contingent a happy hour event during the 50th anniversary celebrations in Washington. We provided snacks and bar food at the no-host bar event on the Friday evening of that weekend event. About 50 people attended.

Financial Management: We discontinued requiring membership fees in early 2008. We continue to receive a “rebate” ($15 per person) from NPCA for members who identify us as their NPCA affiliate. 59 NPCA members joined or renewed during 2011 naming us as their affiliate. We include in our membership anyone who was a paying member in the last five years and anyone who has joined us electronically since we changed our membership fee policy. Our operating expenses are now less than $600 a year. We currently measure our membership at about 350. We have lost track of some members because of (now) invalid email addresses.

Local Groups: LGBT RPCVs celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2011. Over the years LGBT RPCVs has had local groups around the country: San Francisco, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston (New England), and the New York City area. Currently the San Francisco and Washington DC groups are active. A smaller New York group maintains a listserv but appears inactive.

Communications: LGBT RPCVs administers a listserv with more than 600 participants. It is an integral component of our Mentor Program, and we use it to communicate international news related to LGBT and other human rights issues in the developing world, with special emphasis on what’s going on in countries where Peace Corps has or has had programs. We also send our enewsletter to members of the listserv.

The listserv is open to anyone, though our monitor does check the early postings sent by new participants to avoid inappropriate messages (such as those we identify as homophobic or exploitative). Not all individuals on our listserv are group members, and we collect no personal information about those who join the listserv.

Our newsletter has been published several times a year since 1993. In 2008 we converted to an all-electronic format, saving us about $2,000 a year. This savings has allowed us to stop collecting membership fees but still disseminate our message and provide services.

Our web master redesigned our web site in 2011 using WordPress. This makes it much easier to add content and to update. It is also much easier to administer than our previous platform. When the time comes to assign a new web master, the transition should go smoothly.

Counseling and Advice: LGBT applicants, nominees and current volunteers contact us to help resolve issues with Peace Corps that usually relate to sexual orientation or gender identity. We provide relevant information, advice and resources. Our aim is to resolve problem issues within the context of Peace Corps’ non-discriminatory, equal employment and volunteer security policies.

2011 Financial Report: Our Operating Expenses were a little higher in 2011 because we paid for past, current, and future expenses for our post office box. We also provided $180 to our Washington D.C. cohorts for snacks and other bar food for the 50th Peace Corps Anniversary event we co-hosted.

Start of Year (2011) Balance:   $2550.85

Income:
NPCA Memberships:                           $735.00

Operating Expenses:
NPCA Re-affiliation:                             $90.00
Web Hosting:                                        $144.00
Post Office Box
(2 ½ years)                                           $234.00
Catering 50th Anniversary                  $179.40
Total Expenses:                                $647.40

Income Minus Total Expenses:            $87.60

End of Year Balance, (2011):    $2638.45

Our Financial Coordinator Dan  Rael, RPCV, Paraguay can be contacted at daniel_rael@hotmail.com. You can contact Mike Learned at learned_mike@yahoo.com.

About LGBT RPCV
We are an organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and others who are Peace Corps volunteer alumni, current volunteers, former and current staff members and friends. Founded in Washington D.C. in 1991, we have several hundred members throughout the country and around the world who have served in Peace Corps since its beginning in 1961. We're made up of a national steering committee, together with regional chapters. We are an active affiliate member of the National Peace Corps Association.

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