We have rebranded the Gay & Lesbian Fund of Vermont as the LGBTQ+ Fund of Vermont. While we – and many of our users – valued having the words “gay” and “lesbian” in our name, it felt exclusionary. Our name reflected the identity politics among gays and lesbians in Vermont forty years ago, but not the prevalent sensibilities of today. In order for the Fund to remain relevant moving forward, it needs to reflect how people now represent themselves. As the mainstream media adopted “LGBTQ” as a descriptor for the collection of diverse non-straight communities active today, so – finally – have we.
Along with the colors of the traditional gay pride flag we included the BIPOC colors in our logo, not because the Fund intends to represent those who are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color but because we wanted to ensure that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer members of those communities recognize the Fund as a welcoming place for them, too. It is particularly challenging to be a member of multiple oppressed groups simultaneously, and we want to serve those people who identify as non-straight across the full spectrum of other identities.
And our communities are clearly oppressed. Major presidential candidates and other leaders in the Republican Party promote “Don’t Say Gay” policies in schools, ban the provision of gender-neutral bathrooms that might provide relief for people experiencing gender dysmorphia, and have actually outlawed “Drag Queen Story Time,” perpetuating the old trope that gay men are pedophiles. Vermont has seen its own share of conflict centered on the needs and expression of its trans citizens, and the national political scene only emboldens and perpetuates these local conflicts.
We are not in any way abandoning the gay and lesbian donors and volunteers who established and developed the Fund. By the end of 2023 the Fund will have donated over $2,000,000 to well over 500 other nonprofits around Vermont and across the United States, reflecting the priorities and vision of people who primarily identified as lesbian or gay.