Horizons gives $2M in grants to LGBT groups
by David-Elijah Nahmod
The Horizons Foundation last week gave out just over $2 million to a variety of LGBT organizations and projects.
Several hundred people gathered inside the top floor events room at the Westin St Francis Hotel for the December 13 breakfast honoring the latest beneficiaries.
This year's grants, encompassing organizations from across the nine-county Bay Area region, totaled $2,086,543. Recipients included youth and transgender advocacy groups, homeless support services, senior services, filmmakers, and arts/performance troupes.
Beneficiaries included Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center, or LYRIC; EnGender, which includes programs like the Bay Area Rainbow Day Camp; and filmmaker Erin Palmquist.
Horizons offers more than just the grants, officials said.
"We offer funds and scholarships for medical school, law school, four year colleges, community colleges, health and human services, human rights, as well as arts and culture," said Francisco O. Buchting, Horizons' vice president of grant, programs, and strategic initiatives.
Buchting added that for 2016, 114 grant applications were received, resulting in 42 funded grants.
"Sometimes it feels like the Bay Area is the experiment for our movement," he said. "These grants act locally but think globally. We are working very hard to insure that human rights are respected."
Buchting also noted some other grant beneficiaries, many of whom had sent representatives to attend the breakfast. Organizers from the Trans March, Bay Area Old Lesbians Organizing for Change, Dyke March, and Trans Lifeline applauded as their organizations were named.
"Support from Horizons has been critical to us as a new organization," Greta Martela, co-founder of Trans Lifeline, told the Bay Area Reporter. "Horizon's was the first foundation to fund us and have been instrumental in legitimatizing our approach to trans mental health. We are staffed entirely by trans people for trans people. Our main programming is our crisis line. We are also launching a survey in conjunction with LGBTQ Task Force in 2017."
LYRIC was the first organization to address the breakfast.
"LYRIC envisions a diverse society where LGBTQQ youth are embraced for who they are and encouraged to be who they want to be," Executive Director Jodi Schwartz said. "We support all races, classes, genders and abilities."
Schwartz also said that LYRIC would be launching a fellowship in January.
"It's a paid two-year position for trans youth of color so they can become leaders in the future and sit with us," she explained.
Natalia Vigil, communication and development director for LYRIC, spoke personally of what Lyric means to her.
"Leadership opportunities I had as a young person transformed my life," she said. "They gave me the confidence to set goals and achieve them, to find value in myself as a young woman of color questioning my sexuality, and to persevere when faced with any form of challenge – adult allies helped me to navigate opportunities and build a network of connections that still serve me to this day. Now I get to be an adult ally to the youth at LYRIC."
Sandra Collins of EnGender spoke of her child, Ezra, who was dressing as a girl at day camp – Ezra is now named Scarlet. "I had to look at my kid for who they are," Collins said, using gender-neutral pronouns. "These children are perfect just the way they are. Our job is to let them be their best self."
Palmquist showed a clip from Baghdad to the Bay , her film in progress about a gay Iraqi man's journey from his homeland to San Francisco.
In the clip Ghazwan Alsharif speaks of his past life in Iraq as a translator for the U.S. Army. Wrongfully accused of being a double agent, he was tortured by the U.S. and rejected by his family. Alsharif also spoke of "honor killings" in which Iraqis murder gay family members in order to save face in their communities.
For more information about Horizons, visit www.horizonsfoundation.org. The Trans Lifeline number is (877) 565-8860 in the U.S.; in Canada it's (877) 330-6366.