A caravan of hope-gay Christian service: Exploring social vulnerability and capacity-building of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex identified individuals and organizational advocacy in two post Katrina disaster environments
This dissertation is a case study focused on exploring social vulnerability and capacity building among sexual minorities in New Orleans and Baton Rouge after Hurricane Katrina. Using social vulnerability as a framework, I employed qualitative methods to explore whether sexual minorities faced added risks in Hurricane Katrina associated with their sexual orientation or gender identity. The study also explores capacity building efforts by members of the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) in both cities after Hurricane Katrina. This research is an important step towards understanding the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (lgbti) persons in disaster environments, and can help to illuminate how best to address gaps in navigating mainstream disaster recovery resources.
Findings reveal that lgbti individuals are more likely to experience discrimination when they must rely on systems outside of their social and economic networks to recover. Safety is a major concern for lgbti in disaster environments, especially for those who feel they cannot pass as heterosexual. Among lgbti, elderly, racial minorities, young and homeless, were most likely to be without support networks, and most susceptible to failed recovery in Hurricane Katrina. Any combination of these characteristics can make access to resources virtually impossible. Heterosexism and homophobia often affect access to evacuation resources, options for emergency and temporary shelter, access to economic opportunities to rebuild, and employment among others.
Historically, racism, and segregation in New Orleans and Baton Rouge has limited African-Americans social mobility. Lgbti of color are most likely to experience the greatest disparities given the systemic inequities compounded by homophobia in the culture, heterosexism, and resultant discrimination even among lgbti. White lgbti are more likely to have greater access to social and economic opportunities and resources through progressive and supportive heterosexual family members, and more integrated networks with resources. MCC in Los Angeles mounted a bi-coastal initiative with the MCC in Raleigh, North Carolina on the East Coast and they tagged it as the "Caravan of Hope" and staged the distribution at MCC Baton Rouge to address the needs of pets and an outreach to lgbti and others left behind.