The recession has been tough on all of us. Since the recession began several years ago, I have lived in four different states. All of these moves have been economically based. The first move from South Florida was based, in part, on my boss’ decision to lay off a pregnant employee. I was one of the few employees who did not have children and I had a relatively high salary. I chose to make a decision to move back to the mid-Atlantic states to help save someone else’s job, with the promise of teleworking for a couple of months. I was very fortunate to land on my feet and procured another job the same week my boss told me that he could no longer afford to keep me on. Fast-forward 14 months and for the first time since I was 20 years old, I was unemployed.
While the unemployment rate is much lower for individuals with college degrees compared to those without, many of us with advanced degrees have found ourselves unemployed for many months during this recession. Other friends have faced significant pay cuts or have made the tough choice to become a one-income household, in order to start a family. Friends have taken on second jobs to make ends meet or have accepted jobs with more time away from home, in order to attain stronger financial footing. I have watched other friends move back to their home state to take care of aging and sick parents and who have been unable to find work in the new location. Heartbreaking choices have had to be made.
While the recession has been hard on everyone, many gays and lesbians have found themselves having to make the choice to leave the family of friends they have created because they are unable to find work where they live. Friends are so important to the LGBT community because many of us still find that family relationships can be stressful after disclosing that we are gay.
The LGBT community has gained great strides throughout the country, due in part to our current president. However, the debate about our civil rights continues to provide the backdrop of the daily news. This is very stressful for members of the LGBT community, even as the momentum towards full civil rights for us continues to grow. Whenever times are tough, individuals and groups with the least power suffer in a disproportionate way.
If you have friends, especially LGBT friends, who are unemployed, trying to get back on their feet after a period of unemployment or just struggling with other things in their life, reach out to them. A phone call, an email, an e-card to let them know you are thinking about them, or inviting them to dinner or an event is a great way to say, “I am part of your family and I want to share your burden, if even for a moment.” We are only as strong as our weakest link.