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The process of marginalization occurs not only within society at large, but also within minority communities. Many people on the margins suffer multiple instances of oppression as a result of the intersection of their various identities. In the US, for instance, LGBT people of color fall through the gaps created by the unrepresentative agendas of their respective movements. According to interviewed leaders of these communities, ethnic minorities  within the LGBT community have little to no political power; therefore, their well-being is not treated as a priority in the larger movement’s political effort. The mainstream LGBT movement  continuously ignores the needs of the people it purports to represent. Not every queer in the US is an educated, middle-class, white urban male, yet judging by the visibility campaigns carried out by the Gay Rights Movement, one could assume this to be the case.
Interviews conducted within LGBT communities have shown that for the demographic majority of LGBT people, same-sex marriage is not the most important issue. Many of these interviewees are already facing discrimination – whether from sexism, racism, nativism, ageism or xenophobia – on top of their sexual orientation. When subjected to these complex webs of oppression, it is understandable that marriage rights would come to seem insignificant or irrelevant in comparison. 
Make The Road New York (MTR-NY, Queens) has recognized these shortcomings. While Make The Road addresses the Latino immigrant community living in the local neighborhood, the scope of their work extends beyond the issues of employment, housing, immigration and language accessibility. In February 2009, they decided to create the LGBT office PRYDE (Proud Righteous Youth Demanding Equality), to work on providing a safe space for young LGBT Latinos. 
There are many obstacles to expressing oneself as a Latino LGBT person, according to the people we interviewed. Historically, the Latino community has not been welcoming towards its queer peers. The intensive influence of the Catholic Church and the patriarchal machista culture brought from Latin America have led contemporary immigrant societies to be conservative and close-minded in this regard. Given the reality of these deeply embedded cultural tendencies, Make the Road and PRYDE’s focus is acutely local, focusing on the Queens Latino community. The organizations recognize that they first need to create a respectful environment within their own neighborhood before fighting for more general LGBT rights. PRYDE uses specific means to assist LGBT individuals: individual consultations, support groups, and meetings with mental health professionals. In addition, in an effort to change people’s minds about LGBT it provides education about HIV, outreach to schools creating ‘diversity weeks’ in Queens, and most importantly, anti-homophobia workshops specifically addressed to other members of the MTR community.


In many ways, the LGBT movement in France resembles the American one. As in most new social movements, the leaders are mostly from an upper-middle-class, well-educated backround, and most live in Paris.  Where it differs, however, is in its approach to the topic of sexuality.  In France, sex is definitely not a taboo subject, in part due to the long-term effects of the 1968 ‘Sexual Revolution.’ By the early 1970s, French society had become fairly progressive, legalizing abortion and recognizing women’s autonomy. But while issues related to homosexuality and bisexuality entered the general discourse, gays and lesbians themselves only entered the public discussion later. This development came in two stages: first, during the HIV outbreak during the 1980s (which pushed LGBT people to demand health care and protection); and then, in the 1990s when gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people united to lobby for mutual tolerance and respect. At that time their impact was limited, focusing mostly on Paris and other big cities where inhabitants were more likely to be progressive and well-educated, making the advocating for rights easier. As a consequence, the LGBT movement has not really paid attention to the kind of issues faced by more underprivileged members of its own community who may not be representative of those educated urbanites.. Several of these issues are: how to protect LGBT youth who want to come out despite living in a hostile environment? How to promote respect in rural and suburban areas, known for their conservative character and resistance to social change? 
Since the 1990s, the debate in France has focused on civil equality rather than the goal of protecting LGBT people in homophobia-prone places. It is unfortunate that the movement continues to concentrate on gay marriage and adoption, when in reality this problem seems nearly resolved at this point given the consensus among all left-wing parties to implement both same-sex adoption and marriage, if and when they come into power. Why, then, hasn’t the mainstream LGBT movement changed its agenda? It is important that this movement works to eradicate the intolerance that remains in what is called “la France profonde,” and there is only one means of doing that: education. The French school is the crucial pillar of democracy and social justice. It is the only place that brings people together, and where there is at least an opportunity to carry out civic education with little bias. Moreover, the schools are relatively open to diversity and sexual education initiatives. 
One useful strategy would be to adopt the MTR method of school outreach through the use of “diversity weeks.”  Outreach to suburban schools located in low-income and multi-ethnic, often immigrant neighborhoods, where there has always been a deep misunderstanding of homosexuality, is essential to combating bigotry. Drawing a parallel between the discrimination these students face personally due to their skin color, backround and social status, and the discrimination experienced as a homosexual, can help to convey the injustice of homophobia. The message of the campaign would be the following: “By being xenophobic, people discriminate against you; by being homophobic, you do exactly the same to others. If you suffer from unfair discrimination because of your origins, and wish for a better situation, don’t reproduce the same pattern with others.”


The issue of multiple discrimination does not immediately translate into the Polish context. The country does not face the challenges of a multi-ethnic society to the extent that the US or France do. Yet, some of the techniques adapted by MTR and PRYDE, especially in their outreach to young LGBT people, could be of great value in the Polish context. 
The country’s LGBT movement needs to learn from the mistakes of the ‘older’ LGBT movements in the US and France. Polish society must recognize the misguided practice of building an image of homosexuality that is exclusively urban, educated and affluent. Even without the homosexual component, these characteristics alienate a vast majority of the Polish society that does not share these qualities. 
The current debate on homosexuality in Poland dissociates the reality from the discourse. Queer people come in all shapes and sizes, and from all over Poland; a gay rights movement should seek to represent this diversity. It is not enough to speak of the token black gay man in Warsaw; the Polish LGBT movement could also reach out to rural and low-income communities. Bombarding people with visibility campaigns may not in itself be sufficient to create an atmosphere of respect on the part of society at large. This respect will not be won through the formation of tiny cliques or gay “safe havens” for the selected few, but only through the tedious and often unsuccessful campaign of teaching people to be tolerant of one another.
Similar to the New York Latino community, Poland is a country whose moral principles are guided by two institutions: the Catholic Church and a culturally ingrained patriarchy. Neither of these go well with the idea of tolerance towards homosexuality. Nevertheless, a debate within the Church about tolerance is not out of the question.  It has long time been the practice of the LGBT movement, especially in lesbian circles, to demonize the Church and antagonize its members (a mistake also made by the Polish feminist movement). This demonstrates the movement’s immaturity. Instead of attempting to engage the more progressive members of the Church in a debate (perhaps in concert with other minority groups), it marginalizes itself in refusing to seek out a partnership.  Perceiving few alternatives, queers are forced to identify as atheists, therein marginalizing themselves further. In short, the movement erects artificial walls  which prevent the integration of LGBT Poles into the larger LGBT movement, and consequently, the LGBT community into larger society.
How does the work of MTR–NY translate to Poland? Given the similarities of some of the cultural obstacles in each case, what works for the Latino community in the US could work in Poland. The one-on-one approach as well as the discreet campaign for respect, as opposed to merely acceptance, is the first step in a long process of creating a dialogue. As a member of the EU, Poland has to overcome its homophobia, but this needs to occur in reality, and not only on paper. Gay marriage is not yet treated as a real issue, and will not be one for a long time. In the meantime, creating a safe space for people to come out, or making it easier to stay in the closet for those who prefer that, should be the priority of any activist movement. The LGBT groups in Poland have an opportunity to build coalitions with other organizations also promoting tolerance. It might be too much of a reach to convince a school in rural Poland to host an anti-homophobia workshop, but a tolerance workshop led by a secular scout organization would still be more than welcome. The scout movement is only one example of a youth organization that has been fostering youth activism for years. Given the major identity crisis currently being faced by the LGBT movement and its effort to redefine itself, its activists should seek a coalition with such organizations in order to reach out to smaller communities.
We claim that the major priority of various international LGBT communities should be the protection of its youth. It would be more efficient and sustainable to implement these actions locally, but they also need to maintain an international scope. It is not enough merely to construct local safe havens; it is also necessary to build a transnational network dedicated to the well-being of the next generation. In our interview with Carl Siciliano, Executive Director of the Ali Forney Center, he revealed an innovative proposal. Borrowing from historical movements such as the Righteous Gentiles, the Latin American Sanctuary Movement, and the Abolitionist Underground Railroad in the US, he suggests creating a network of safe houses for LGBT youth fleeing homophobic societies, particularly in countries where the prevailing practice is state-sponsored punishment and/or death for those who are LGBT.  These countries include Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Suriname, Jamaica, Ethiopia and parts of Nigeria. This network would extend not only between countries, but also regionally, within countries. Because of the necessarily secret nature of these safe houses, it would be of utmost importance to verify that there are strong and trustworthy relationships with the hosts; to ensure this level of trust, locations would be researched on an individual, one-on-one basis. The houses would most likely belong to individuals as opposed to organizations, so as to reduce the visibility of their activities and the movement as a whole. Systems of cooperation would be set up to provide legal, mental and physical services, as well as housing—similar to the way that the Ali Forney Center provides for its clients. These safe houses, if organized in the way described above, can serve as a way of effectively employing the more intimate strategies of trust illustrated by the work of Make the Road and PRYDE. 
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