When we started Brand g Vacations, our goals were to choose destinations that have led the way in improving the lives of gay people, and to eventually incorporate philanthropy into all of our vacations because we believe that travel has the power to change our lives and inspire us to give.
As more and more countries and states step up with full LGBT equality, it is important for our community to also be recognized for the fully engaged, community-minded people that we are. As our inaugural blog is being launched during the holiday season, which for many of us means giving – either to friends and family, or to those less fortunate – I thought it was appropriate to talk about what it means to me.
Giving tends to be learned in our families. I grew up in the Reorganized Church of Latter Day Saints, where we pretty much gave 10% to charity – it was expected. It also meant giving time – as an extended family we always volunteered for the holidays to serve meals to people who needed help. So in the case of the LGBT community, where some of us may be alienated from our families (although less now than before), and where over 80% of us do not have children, how does year-end philanthropy fit into our lives?
I met my husband, Mark, 14 years ago, and we have been giving jointly since that very first year. Regardless of who wrote the check, we asked the non-profit to list both of our names. It has become a tradition for us– that, and Mark decorating the tree with family and friends while I avoid the house so as not to dampen their holiday spirit (All of those needles! The electric bill! The water leaking on the hardwood floor! Call me Scrooge – I don’t mind).
We would love to know what is important to you when you give. Do you give mostly to LGBT organizations, or to the Humane Society, Public Radio, or an organization like Feeding America? Is there a gay or lesbian celebrity (Ellen Degeneres, Elton John, Melissa) or family member you respect whom you would look to for help in deciding where to give? Or someone, LGBT or not, who has inspired you through their actions? A personal inspiration of mine is Matt Damon, co-founder of Water.org, who credits his deep commitment to global philanthropy to his travels: “I think many of our problems as a country would be solved if people had thick passports. There’s just no substitute for actually going and seeing things,” he said in a Conde Nast Traveler interview.
Is Lady Gaga and her decision to fight bullying with her new foundation enough to inspire you to put your dollars toward organizations with anti-bullying campaigns like GLSEN? Or do you not give at all because in these difficult economic times you just don’t have enough as it is? Regardless of how much you give or to what, please take a few minutes to share your personal reasons for making a gift this year and why it is special to you.
Happy holidays from all of us at Brand g Vacations