Peace Corps Pride Events 2011

Peace Corps and Pride – 2011

 Peace Corps and LGBT RPCVs were actively involved in many Gay Pride activities in June. We have reports from five cities: Boston, Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, and Washington D. C.

Boston: The New England Regional Corps Office sponsored a recruiting and information table at the Boston Pride Festival. Two staff members presided and eight RPCVs sat with the staff to talk about their experiences as Peace Corps Volunteers. 63 Pride participants stopped by the table, and 27 signed up to get more information about Peace Corps. Although there was some rain and cold, there was great participation from the RPCVs. They came out and helped set up early on Saturday morning and stayed throughout the festival to share their life enhancing experiences with budding volunteers. Peace Corps found the Boston Pride Committee highly organized and looks forward to participating in future Pride events.

Chicago: The Chicago Peace Corps office had a contingent in the Chicago Gay Pride parade. 18 people marched in all: five Staff Members, seven RPCVs, long with six friends and family. It was a great day. The Peace Corps marching group had a huge Peace Corps banner, a flag, and several marchers were dressed in country of service traditional costumes. The contingent handed out lots of stickers and post cards promoting an upcoming Diversity Information Session. Marchers got a great reaction from the crowd. Much of it obviously from other RPCVs, shouting out their countries of service: Paraguay, China, Tanzania and others.

New York City:

 

 
Approximately 30 people walked, carried flags, beat a drum, and lost their voices shouting “50 More Years, 50 More Years!” behind the Peace Corps banners at New York City’s June Pride March. The marching group consisted of RPCVs who had served in countries from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Caribbean. Nominees on their way to becoming PCVs as well as family and friends were also part of the group. RPCV, Kat, Suriname, grabbed friends and jumped on a bus with 20 giant country of service flags from Peace Corps Headquarters in DC just to join in this year’s historic Pride March. Onlookers clapped, cheered, and shouted “Thank You!” This being New York there were also lots of cheers from the crowd for the Jamaican and Dominican Republic flags that were carried by RPCVs who served in those countries. 

The New York Office also held an information session aimed at prospective LGBT applicants. 25 people attended. About half of them joined staff and 8 LGBT RPCVs at the Cubby Hole for a happy hour and lots of questions about the lives of LGBT PCVs in the developing world.

San Francisco:

The local Bay Area chapter of LGBT RPCVs held its 20th anniversary Pride Celebration on Bill and Tony’s deck in the Castro, the Saturday afternoon before the Pride March. Several women in the group also were part of the Dyke March at nearby Dolores Park early that evening. About 40 people showed up at the barbecue, many longtime members, other’s there for the first time. Lots of good food, drink and conversation. Hard to believe it was 20 years ago that LGBT RPCVs was founded in Washington D.C. and groups there and in San Francisco had their first meetings.

Washington D.C.:

For the D.C. Pride Parade on Saturday June 11, Peace Corps had a very animated group of around 30 RPCVs and PC staff members carrying their country of service flags. The marching contingent also carried Peace Corps banners and had a very welcoming reception from the estimated 100,000 people watching the parade. On Saturday night the Peace Corps marching group was notified that it had won the “Harvey Milk Award for Best Public Sector Contingent.” The group was called up on the main stage during Sunday’s festival to receive the award. Peace Corps also hosted an information table at the festival on the Sunday where there were an estimated 200,000 attendees. LGBT RPCVs sat at the table along with Peace Corps Staff.

Earlier in the month Peace Corps hosted an LGBT RPCV panel in the Rosslyn, VA recruiting office for about 20 participants. Earlier the same day at Peace Corps Headquarters in downtown D.C., transgendered political appointees appointed by the Obama administration came to speak to Peace Corps employees about transgender issues. There were about 100 employees in attendance. The Deputy Director introduced the panelists and there were lots of Q and A’s.

Later in June, Peace Corps’ Office of Diversity Recruitment and National Outreach sponsored a webinar “Have Rainbow, Will Travel: The LGBT Experience in the Peace Corps.” There were 25 participants and six panelists, two lesbian, two gay, and two transgendered RPCVs. They answered so many questions about the challenges and opportunities for LGBT volunteers. There is another panel discussion planned for the fall.

A Special Thanks: So many people on Peace Corps staff and LGBT RPCVs helped to make these 50th Peace Corps anniversary and Gay Pride related events successful. A special thanks to all who worked to make these such a success, particularly Bill and Tony, Jerry, Jeffrey, John, Kat, Kiva, Shari, Stephen – who all helped organize and coordinate activities.

Financial Report for 2010

-Dan Rael, Financial Coordinator

2010 was again a quiet year for us financially. Our operating expenses were kept to a low $230.00 against an income of $810.00. Our NPCA memberships increased slightly and we got a small contribution from our San Francisco Bay affiliate which was closing its longtime bank account. We made a grant this year of $920.00 for 1000 copies of a Coming Out brochure in Romanian to be distributed by ACCEPT a Romanian gay/human rights organization. Many PCVs in Romania have volunteered for this group over the years. A then current PCV bird dogged the project for us this last summer. We plan to solicit for another project grant this year.

Our Financial Coordinator, Dan Rael, RPCV, Paraguay can be contacted at daniel_rael@hotmail.com

Start of Year (2010) Balance:
$2891.08
Income:
NPCA Memberships:
$750.00
Bay Area LGBT RPCV Transfer:
$60.63
Total Income:
$810.63
Operating Expenses:
NPCA Re-affiliation:
$90.00
Web Hosting:
$140.86
Grant for Romanian Brochure:
$920.00
Total Expenses:
$1150.86
Income Minus Total Expenses:
($340.23)
End of Year Balance (2010):
$2550.85

 

 

Annual Report for 2010 – Activities and Achievements

LGBT RPCVs’ Annual Report for 2010 – Activities and Achievements

This report of our activities and achievements during 2010 has been submitted to the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) as part of our reaffiliation with that organization for 2011.

Mentoring Program: Since 1994 LGBT RPCVs has managed a (now) electronically based Mentoring Program. LGBT applicants, nominees, trainees and people just interested in joining Peace Corps connect with our Mentor Program on the Mentor page of our website (www.lgbrpcv.org). We provide specific directions on readings from our website and instructions on how to direct questions and concerns to almost 600 people who post on our listserv. This continues to work well with dozens of 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. A recent post wanted to know about network capabilities and Wi-Fi connections in particular countries for Kindles, cell phones, lap tops and other electronic devices. Sometimes responses are limited, but on occasion advice and ideas come from a dozen or more respondents. We would be happy to share the way our Mentor Program works with other NPCA affiliates. It would work particularly well with Country of Service groups.

Supporting Peace Corps at LGBT Related Recruiting and Information Events: During 2010 LGBT RPCVs assisted regional Peace Corps offices and Headquarters staff at several recruiting and/or informational LGBT related events around the country. This involved a printed package of materials. We also assisted in locating LGBT RPCVs to help staff at recruiting and information tables (most notably Gay Pride events in the summer and fall of 2010) to answer questions and provide support for Peace Corps staff. We have assisted in supporting and communicating about Peace Corps webinars and other smaller scale events.

In 2010 we were also active in advising and supporting Peace Corps about the acceptance and security needs of transgender applicants and possibly same-sex couples in the future.

Financial Management: Since the beginning of 2008 we no longer require membership fees. We continue to receive a “rebate” ($15 per person) from NPCA for members who identify us as their NPCA affiliate. 50 NPCA members joined or renewed during 2010 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 $300 a year. We now measure our membership at about 350. We have lost track of some members because of (now) invalid email addresses.

Local Groups: Over the years LGBT RPCVs has had local groups around the country: San Francisco, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston (New England), and 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.

Grants and Contributions: In 2010 LGBT RPCVs made a grant of $920 to print 1000 copies of a Romanian language brochure on “coming out” to ACCEPT, a Romanian human/gay rights organization. Many Romanian PCVs have volunteered for this respected organization over the years. A then (last summer) current PCV bird dogged this project seeing it through completion.

Communications: LGBT RPCVs administers a listserv with almost 600 participants. It is an integral component of our Mentor Program, and we use it to communicate international news related to LGBT issues in the developing world, with special emphasis on what’s going on in countries where Peace Corps has programs. We also send our enewsletter out on the listserv. The listerv is open to anyone, though our monitor does check the first message send out by new participants to head off inappropriate messages (such as those we identify as homophobic or exploitive). We do not consider all participants on our listserv members. Usually we only have email addresses and no other information

Our newsletter has been published several times a year since 1993. In 2008 we converted to an all-electronic format, saving us about $2000 a year. This allowed us to stop collecting membership fees and getting our message and services out there, not concentrating on the dollars needed to fund our operating expenses.

We receive a monthly Google Analytics reports that identifies how and how many people come to our website. We have links to our site from many, many places.

In the summer of 2010 John Finn, our membership coordinator and Mike Learned, group leader recorded a Story Corps presentation about the 20 year evolution of LGBT RPCVs. Our 20th anniversary comes this year, same year as PC’s 50th.

Counseling and Advice: LGBT applicants, nominees and current volunteers contact us to help resolve issues with Peace Corps, usually related to their 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.

You can contact Mike Learned at learned_mike@yahoo.com

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