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Hurricane Harvey LGBTQ Fund Raises Nearly $300K In Four Days

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By John Wright

The Montrose Center’s relief fund for LGBTQ survivors of Hurricane Harvey has raised more than a quarter-million dollars in just four days, far exceeding its initial goal.

Kent Loftin, the Montrose Center’s development director, said he was “overwhelmed” by support for the fund, which has included contributions from celebrities like Jack Antonoff and Ruby Rose.

“Months and months and months from now, when the recovery efforts have pulled out from the city, we can still help our community to rebuild,” Loftin said Thursday. “We knew this was going to devastate the community. There’s no doubt that there is going to be more need than we have resources.”

Loftin said the Montrose Center has dispatched staff to all of the shelters in Houston, in hopes of avoiding a repeat of Hurricane Ike, when transgender evacuees were arrested for using the “wrong” restroom. During Hurricane Katrina, Loftin added, trans evacuees from New Orleans were denied clothing that matched their gender identity when they arrived in Houston.

On Thursday, the Montrose Center delivered lunch and resources to volunteers at Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church, which suffered major damage in the storm.

“For all intents and purposes, that’s the second LGBT community center in Houston,” Loftin said of the church. “They are the hardest-hit institution in our community.”

Loftin noted that the Montrose Center has increased its fundraising goal and continues to accept contributions. He said monies raised will be used to help housing-insecure community members who aren’t eligible for FEMA assistance; to assist people in applying for disaster aid; to help those who fear accepting support from institutions such as the Red Cross; and to fill in gaps where things aren’t covered.

“We’re the payer of last resort,” he said. “We are spending money on response, but this fund is really about recovery.”

Loftin also stressed that the Montrose Center won’t discriminate against non-LGBTQ survivors when it comes to disbursing funds. “We have not yet built and patented the metal detector that turns pink when you walk through it and determines that you’re gay,” he quipped.

Those who are in crisis and need help accessing services, as well as anyone who wishes to volunteer, should call the Montrose Center at 713-529-0037.  In addition to financial contributions, Loftin said the Montrose Center’s clients are in need of basic necessities listed here. The items can be dropped off in the second-floor reception area from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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John Wright

John Wright is the editor of OutSmart magazine. He has spent two decades in the mainstream and LGBTQ media. Most recently, he served as senior editor of Dallas Voice, and covered LGBTQ issues in the state Legislature for The Texas Observer. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Wright earned his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Florida. He resides in the EaDo area of Houston, where he is currently remodeling a 1930s row house.

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