Halloween is considered one of the best holidays in New Orleans. For the LGBT Community, it’s about sharing its love of showmanship, and culture.
Halloween New Orleans for 35 years has been one of the most successful events in New Orleans. The sole mission of HNO is to raise money for Project Lazarus an organization that provides health care, support services, and housing for those living with HIV/AIDS (both men and women). HNO has raised approximately $4.5 million for Project Lazarus, 100% of all donations go directly to Project Lazarus, and is one of the few donation/volunteer events left in the United States.
HNO weekend is something to experience, after attending last year’s event at the House of Blues I was amazed at the transition. There are few events that impress me, however, I can’t stress how this one truly did. You come to realize that behind the scenes there is a lot of work put into this event. Each year they select a different theme, and according to Dustin Woehrmann, President of the HNO Board “the planning and execution of the Halloween event is planned right down to the smallest detail.” Furthermore “It’s about having fun, but also raising money for Project Lazarus, which is getting harder to do each year. We must reach a younger crowd and that can be difficult.”
But make no mistake HNO works hard to raise what money they can, last year they raised approximately $30,000 for Project Lazarus. For the board, it’s not just about raising money, but a desire to foster a supportive community here in New Orleans. HNO will also host mini-events during the year to keep the group engaged.
Most people know that I’m not a fan of large LGBT parties. It’s been my experience that most turn into another boring circuit party, with stuck up half-dressed men, loud music, overpriced drinks and me wondering what the hell I'm doing here. However, for some reason, the HNO Halloween Party was different for me, maybe because I was there to take pictures, but I was impressed with the creative costumes and the effects were impressive (did I say that already?) either way I look forward to next year’s events.
For more information visit: Halloween New Orleans
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It's hard to believe that the poverty rate in the LGBT community is higher than heterosexuals. This should not come as a surprise to anyone, because LGBT people are born and raised in all types of environments. Most LGBT individuals also face unique obstacles because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. This includes a higher risk of being homeless when they are young, harassment and discrimination at school and the workplace.
All you must do is envision or think about the young gay man who is kicked out of him home and ends up working on the streets to survive, the transgender woman being turned down in a job interview, or an elderly lesbian being denied housing.
LGBT poverty to many is very surprising because there are not dominant images within the community, and stereotype remain resilient. Historically the image of the LGBT community has been the gay, white, young men who do not have children, therefore, it is believed that they have additional/extra income to use. To better understand you must break down that dominant image to address the underlining of LGBT poverty and the work that needs to happen to address it.
According to research there are approximately 9 million LGBT people in the United States, and almost have are lesbian and bisexual women. Not only do they face sexual orientation discrimination, they must face sex discrimination in education, the workplace and gaps in wages. 24% of lesbians and bisexual women are poor, compared to 19% of heterosexual women.
We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty. Mother Teresa
People of color (African Americans, Latinos, Asians) One in five members of same-sex couple in the U.S. are people of color, and one in eight are Latino's. LGBT people of color are more likely to live in poverty, this is generally standard in our society. African-American same sex couples are more likely to live under the poverty line and are three times more likely to live in poverty than white same-sex couples.
The most economically vulnerable in the LGBT community are the elderly and young. It is estimated that 1.6 million youths in the United States experience homelessness each year, and between 20% and 40% identify as LGBT. Members of the LGBT community that are 65 years of age and older, and make up 7% of the total members of the LGBT community, 28% are disabled and 6% receive Medicaid or other government assistance.
One of the most vulnerable members of the LGBT community are transgender people. Research has shown that transgender people are four times likely to have a household income under $10,000.00 and twice as likely to be unemployed as the typical person in the United States. 90% reported being harassed, mistreated, or discrimination on the job, and one in five reported being homeless as some point in their lives.
How do we as a culture begin to address these issues? Some state that we must understand the diversity within the LGBT community; that this is the key to breaking down the myth of affluence and the beginning of understanding how to combat LGBT poverty. There also had to be a collation among women, people of color, young and old and LGBT people altogether in the LGBT community.
What I find interesting is how you listen to people in LGBT community talk about unity, togetherness and acceptance. But they are just words, and words without action(s) mean nothing. We tend to look our noses down on those we don't consider worthy of our acceptance, we mock and ridicule those that dare to be different, we set standards that are only achievable in ones closed minded world. We live in a community that friends are determined on what they can do for us, and if you play the "game" you're somebody.
For a very select few there are those in the community that try to make a difference, they work tirelessly to help those in need and provide support and assistance where ever needed. Until we begin to change our attitude towards those in need we are no better than those in society determined to take away the rights we have.
So, where do we begin?
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ASD, Laura Yax WSCS. “Census 2000 Gateway.” U.S. Census Bureau, United States Government, 25 Jan. 2002, www.census.gov/main/www/cen2000.html.
Kurtzleben, Danielle. Study: Poverty Elevated for the LGBT Community. U.S. News, 6 June 2013, www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/06/06/study-poverty-rate-elevated-for-lgbt-community
Quintana, Nico Sifra. “Poverty in the LGBT Community.” Center for American Progress, doi:10.1037/e549352009-015.
Whalen, Kate. “Poverty Is an LGBT Issue: New Report Identifies Low-Income LGBT Legal Needs.” Legal Services NYC, 2017, www.legalservicesnyc.org/news-and-events/press-room/966-poverty-is-an-lgbt-issue-new-report-identifies-low-income-lgbt-legal-needs-.
Istockphoto.com. Purchased for commercial use only.
There is no doubt that the LGBT community in New Orleans gives a lot money to various charities; that benefit many people in need. From April to December, members of the community will give thousands of dollars to show their support and compassion for the LGBT community. However, in recent months some people that I know began to ask questions as to why they never could get a receipt for their donation(s) at some of these events. It really is simple and I will use two of the largest events in New Orleans; Southern Decadence and the Gay Easter Parade. Now understand that the statements expressed in the article are my opinions and do not reflect any organization(s) and/or person, other than myself. I also want to state, there are many people within the LGBT community who work hard to raise money for various charities in the New Orleans area, and I'm in no way diminishing their hard work and accomplishments.
You have to understand that there are two different types of non-profit tax exempt classifications; a 501(c)(3) and a 501(c)(4). Under IRS codes many nonprofit organizations are created for the purpose of providing some benefit to the public. Depending on the specific civic purpose of the organization and its anticipated level of involvement in politics, it may be eligible for a federal income tax exemption under sub-chapter 504(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code.
According to IRS rules, public charities, private foundations and organization that promote a religious, scientific, charitable, or literary purpose may purse a tax exempt classification known as 501(c)(3) status. By contrast, civil leagues, and local association that further a social welfare objective but do not quite rise to the level of a charitable organization and may purse 501(c)(4) status. Another important aspect of these two are under a 501(c)(3) deduction are available to individuals and businesses, and are entirely deductible as a charitable contribution on the donor’s tax returns. While donations made to a 501(c)(4) are generally not deductible.
Got It! It’s really a lot, but important to understand.
So, let’s look at Southern Decadence! This event is listed as New Orleans Southern Decadence, Inc., charter number 41213635N as recorded by the Louisiana Secretary of State. It is also not listed as a 501(c)(3) or (4). Therefore, any donations made to this organization are not tax deductible for any individual or business who gives money. The same can be said for the Gay Easter Parade, book number 57-0205 which according the Louisiana Secretary of State is not listed as a business or nonprofit, but held under Ambush Magazine as a trade mark for printed matter, advertising & Business, and is not listed as a 501(c)(3) or (4).
What about donations I make to Southern Decadence and/or Gay Easter Parade for fundraising event(s)? Well let me give you an example: you give $100.00 (cash) at a fundraising event, unless you receive a receipt that shows the name of the registered nonprofit, date, amount and signature you cannot deduct that from your personal federal income taxes. The same for a check (which can serve as a receipt), it must be written directly to the organization. The organization must be a recognized 501(c)(3) or (4) as outlined by the IRS to accept donations. Sponsorship's are basically the same thing, as a single donation, and the same rules apply as stated in the example.
In the case of Southern Decadence or the Gay Easter Parade, according to the IRS (agent Johnson #10001961**), “if you give money to an organization that is not registered with the IRS as tax exempt you cannot take any deductions, nor can you ask or receive a receipt, it illegal to do so”. Since both of these events are not registered with the IRS, guess what you’re out of luck. So, can anyone take the deductions? Yes. So, if New Orleans Southern Decadence, Inc. writes a check for an amount, they can in theory take the total federal deductions allowed by IRS rules for deductions. The Gay Easter Parade which is not listed by the Louisiana Secretary of State as a nonprofit or business, but held under Ambush, Inc, who could write a check to the charity and in theory take the total federal deductions (I am not implying or suggesting they do).
This seems strange to me, if either Southern Decadence and/or Ambush are taking any federal charitable (at the time of posting of this article neither Ambush and/or New Orleans Southern Decadence responded to requests for confirmation or comment), deductions, hell their getting one sweet deal. I mean the community gives them money throughout the year and they might be taking large deductions on their federal taxes. Another point to make is that they never disclose that donations are not tax deductible (which is a requirement); and if they are in fact claiming the deductions. They only state how much they have raised, and given to the charities after expenses. With regards to the Gay Easter Parade it clearly states to make checks payable to Ambush/gep (sponsorship form), they also claim to have raised $264,784.41 in the last 15 years. Either way the question is; is someone taking large charitable deductions? If so, why? Does it even seem fair that we give this money so that it can assist or help our community, without the benefit of claiming a personal charitable deduction?
Regardless of how you feel about this subject, I think it’s wrong to not have full disclosure. The community should be informed that our donations are not federally tax deductible, that you will not receive a receipt for your donation. To some in the community this issue isn’t important and I respect that, but for some who give large amounts of money throughout the year it is important.
Image: istockphoto.com purchased for commercial use.
Exemption Requirements - 501(c)(3) Organizations
Exemption Requirements - 501(c)(4) Organizations
IRS Publication 526. Catalog No. 15050A. Dept. of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service. 2016
IRS Publication 557. Catalog No. 46573C. Dept. of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service. 2017
IRS Publication 1771. Catalog No. 20054Q. Dept. of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service. 2016