We caught a glipse of a story about how the pandemic had affected LGBTQ+ respondents more than those who are just straight. The article then goes on the restate the same issue, poor and at risk communities have suffered more than rich white suburbans communities. Isn’t that why the majority voted for a new Commander In Chief? Weird times indeed. Anywho, Stash Inc, an app used to manage trades, investment accounts, and retirement funding for the middle class worker, has now joined the legions of American fortune companies that try their best to promote inclusivity. When has a stock been directly marketed to that community? Do they get funding from the pharm reps that use their plight to make billions in drug advancements? Can they buy more shares of these brands than a person who identifies as straight? Nope. That’s where the real change would lie.

Here’s an excerpt from the Stash article:

Michael Sheppard watched his phone in disbelief as every source of his income vanished in a matter of hours.

It was March, 2020, in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sheppard, 44, an accomplished freelance pianist based in Baltimore, Maryland, had performances lined up for the next several months and things were looking up for his savings account. However, cancellations by text kept pouring in.

“Every performance I had disappeared within the span of 48 hours, leaving me with no options for income,” he says.

Sheppard, who identifies as gay, is just one of thousands of LGBTQ Americans who have been disproportionately affected  by more than a year of COVID-related lockdowns, job losses and societal shifts.

“I really had to scramble,” Sheppard says. “I raided my savings, went into credit card debt, went on unemployment for the first time ever.” 

The COVID-19 impact: Fewer jobs, more financial crises

According to a research brief by the Human Rights Campaign, LGBTQ+ Americans are more likely to work in industries hardest hit by Covid-19 — think service and entertainment industries, for example. Nearly one third of survey respondents said their hours were cut as a result of Covid-19 compared to about 20 percent of the general population. 

Nearly 65% of LGBTQ+ employees and their families either lost their jobs or had their employment disrupted since the pandemic started, compared to just 45%of non-LGBTQ+ households, according to a report by the Movement Advancement Project. The project, coordinated by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, surveyed households on the impact of the pandemic. 

A staggering 95% of Black LGBTQ+ households and 70% of LGBTQ+ Latinx households reported having at least one serious financial problem since COVID-19 reached pandemic levels, according to the report. And nearly 20%of all LGBTQ+ households reported not getting enough food to eat every day, compared to just 5% of non-LGBTQ+ households.

Before Covid-19, Sheppard estimates he had $5,000 to $6,000 in savings. He had hoped to keep adding to the account without dipping into it, and maybe use some of it for a trip. But with every gig, concert, and performance gone—and no end to the cancellations in sight—he blew through most of that hard-earned cash, and then started amassing credit card debt, just to make ends meet.

“The things I need are still the things I need,” he says, such as housing, food and utilities. And unemployment turned out to be a tangled web of forms with very little pay off because Sheppard is a freelancer with many clients instead of one, steady employer. In the end he says he was able to collect just $550 from unemployment during the entirety of the pandemic.

The gig work industry comprises of people who are creative, artistically driven, in low income neighborhoods to make ends meet, in social situations such as leaving foster care, released from jail/prison, loss of income because of employer’s behaviors, domestic violence and the list continues. The pandemic are the “help” did not consider any of these people. Additionally, they do not have one sole mission to work from one brand, company, or organization until they reach the age of retirement. Most Americans cannot even live fully on their retirement income so they work at corportaions like Home Depot and Walmart.

The federal minimum wage, which is what the stimulus payouts were based upon, cannot adequately keep an individual or their families from eating and living off the streets. Homelessness is a pandemic inside of America because you can be have a job, go to school, and still not have a safe place to live. That is a crisis doubled in a medical crisis which included the richest cities in America being shut down by their Governors. New York City was the epicenter. Broadway was shut down. Millions of livelihoods wiped away. When this happens again, what will we say? We cannot say that we continue to forget those who already feel forgotten.

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