It has been nearly a week since the LGBTQ communities in Puerto Rico began pleading at the top of their collective voice for the LGBTQ communities here in the States to hear their cries for help and respond.Please hear them.Please connect with them…whenever, however it is possible.Please share their stories with your readers and viewers.Please share how to help with your readers and viewers.The LGBTQ communities in Puerto Rico need us. Your audience needs to know that.While the clubs are filled this weekend in the States, the LGBTQ communities and the people of Puerto Rico are struggling to find water, food, shelter, light, a safe place to rest, and life-sustaining medicine and healthcare that they desperately need.Are we really waiting for the mainstream press to tell our communities’ stories so that we can repeat it rather than connect and tell these stories – our communities’ stories – ourselves??If you need contacts, scroll down, and you’ll find them. However, you might not be able to reach them immediately because the very few who have access to a working phone and intermittent access to a working communications network have become the primary contacts through which all requests for emergency aid and assistance are flowing.Most of Puerto Rico is without power, running water, and access to any communications network.The Island depends almost entirely on wireless communications, and those networks are down all across Puerto Rico. Towers were blown down by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The few towers that are standing have no power without a diesel generator, and getting fuel to those generators is difficult and, in most cases, simply impossible at this time. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Claro, and Open Mobile have crews on the ground and supply ships on the way, but it will be weeks and months before the wireless networks are functional around San Juan and major cities, much less the lifeline on which communities on most of the island could depend only one week ago. Puerto Rico relies almost entirely on these wireless networks for communications of all kinds; much of Puerto Rico has limited or no landline or cable connections. Wireless is everything in these communities. When the wireless networks go down, much of Puerto Rico is without any way to communicate with each other or with anyone outside of their immediate communities.Much of the communications in this past week between people and communities has been word of mouth passed from house to house, community to community. Those with shortwave radios and two-way radios have helped to fill the gaps, and radio signals are broadcasting from San Juan. They need help to expand these grassroots wireless networks while the government, military, and communications networks to re-establish a basic, wireless communications network in the major cities and population centers.So, please understand that your calls, texts, messages, and emails may not get through immediately and that the person on the other end may only be able to talk or respond to you briefly, if at all.Emails and text messages may not get a response for several hours or even a day or two.Everyone is facing the ebb and flow that happens in the cycles that follow a life and death crisis, even when the current emergency responses eventually become a process of recovery. People are in shock, whole communities are in shock.They have to make critical choices about where to focus their efforts and attention. The choice of whom they take the time to speak can make the difference between whether a person, a family, a neighborhood gets the lifesaving and life sustaining help they need.Please keep all of that in mind when you attempt to contact the people and organizations in Puerto Rico that are listed below and further down in this email.Cecilia La Luz is the founder and director of Centro Comunitario LGBTT de Puerto Rico in San Juan. Cecilia is also an official liaison for the LGBTT community to the Office of the Governor of Puerto Rico. She can be reached intermittently at this email address: centrolgbttpr@gmail.
com She can be reached by phone at times during the day; however, I have not been given permission to share that contact number widely simply because it is serving as a “switchboard” of sorts for the LGBTQ community. When she replies to your email, she may share it with you when she can be available to speak with you directly.Juan Carlos Vego maintains the Activist Librarian Blog in Puerto Rico and posted the compiled list of organizations in his post on September 26 (see below). His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Denise Spivak is the Senior Director Programs & Outreach for CenterLink, the national association of LGBTQ+ community centers. CenterLink is working directly with Cecilia La Luz to raise funds specifically for the needs of the LGBTQ communities in San Juan and throughout Puerto Rico. You can contact Denise by email at email@example.com or by phone 954-765-6024At this point, CenterLink has been able to raise just over $3,000 for the emergency needs of the LGBTQ communities in Puerto Rico.Much more is needed.The LGBTQ communities in San Juan and throughout Puerto Rico easily number more than 150,000 people, probably more than 200,000 people on the island.We are their sister and brother communities here in the States. They need our help.Please share their stories with your readers. Please share how to ship donations directly to the LGBTQ center for distribution to those in need. Please share the crowd fundraising sites that have been created, most especially the site created by CenterLink in cooperation with Cecilia La Luz and the Centro Comunitario LGBTT de Puerto Rico.More information about the fundraising campaign and the address for donated items can be found at the bottom of this email.Please engage with the LGBTQ community in Puerto Rico.Please share their stories.Please.Thank you.“A Reader”
Urgent Support for Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico needs your support today. Many people in the United States are asking me how they can support my fellow Puerto Ricans on the island (also fellow US citizens) which was devastated by hurricane Maria last week. I am including here several ways you can support. I don’t like asking for donations, but there is no other way right now. Puerto Rico needs your support. I ask for your support. But first,
Call your Congress representatives to release the aid to communities in Puerto Rico NOW and to support the recovery!!!
Sign this petition to tell your Congress representatives to release the aid to communities in Puerto Rico NOW and to support the recovery!!!
Sign this petition to tell the Department of Homeland Security and Donald Trump to waive the Jones Act (for all cargo at ports in Puerto Rico) for 12 months to give the island the relief it needs to recover and rebuild its infrastructure and economy. The US controls the air and sea borders of Puerto Rico. Open them NOW! If Cuba, Dominican Republic and Venezuela want to help us, let them come. Everyone – put pressure. This is what solidarity looks like! Call, tweet, organize, go to your elected officials’ offices. Senator John McCain not only supported the 12 month waiver, he is now asking along with Republican Senator Mike Lee to permanent remove Puerto Rico.
As I collect information from local Puerto Ricans on the island as well as members of the Puerto Rican diaspora in the United States, I realize that the lack of communication on the ground makes information sources less reliable. For that reason, I have selected the following as trusted ways you can join in the relief efforts.
Donate to the following frontline community based organizations and/or campaigns:
- Taller Salud (supporting the community of Loiza)
- Hurricane Maria Community Recovery Fund
- Feminist Solidarity Post-Hurricane Relief Fund, Colectiva Feminista en Construcción (bringing emergency supplies and support to women and LGBTQI communities)
- ESCAPE Centro de Fortalecimiento Familiar/Early Head Start Center (employees are visiting families with children in Gurabo to find out their current needs and bring them emergency supplies)
- Centro Comunitario LGBT de Puerto Rico (all funds will support LGBTQI communities in San Juan)
- Casa Pueblo in Adjuntas (looking for rechargeable lights) link coming soon!
- Emergency Relief for Puerto Rico (providing support to shelters and rural communities in the south, west and central regions)
- Carmelo Anthony Puerto Rico Relief Fund
- Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief Fundraiser (supporting communities in Pinones and Loiza)
- Salud y Acupuntura para el Pueblo