The Fight for Equality Has Changed, But It’s Not Over
On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. It was a tremendous victory for the LGBTQ movement that was decades in the making. To some, it may have seemed that the fight for LGBTQ equality was over. Yet, “the fight isn’t over yet,” as Horizons’ supporters AJ Shepard and Anthony Chiu remind us. There are still victories to be won and rights to be maintained in the face of a powerful conservative backlash.
Shepard and Chiu are busy professionals with a passion for giving back. Unfortunately, strategic giving takes time. Aware that the needs of the Bay Area LGBTQ community are ever-changing and that the strategies to address them are diverse, Shepard and Chiu rely on the expertise of Horizons to make gifts to their community. “Horizons makes it easy for us to help our community,” Chiu reflects. “We provide the funds. They do the homework.”
The couple met one fateful day at the UCSF gym. Chiu was a resident physician at UCSF and Shepard somehow managed to get a pass to the UCSF gym. “We looked at each other and started talking,” Chiu remembers. “The rest is history.” As their relationship has blossomed, Shepard and Chiu have decided to share some of their resources with less fortunate members of the community. “Some of us have had a good ending, but there are many who do not have all that we have,” explains Chiu. “We want to give back and be involved in helping others.”
Shepard and Chiu’s journey as a couple hasn’t always been smooth sailing. For a long time, the couple struggled to gain acceptance from Chiu’s parents. All that changed when Chiu’s parents came to stay with them in San Francisco. “They saw that we get up in the morning, make breakfast, go to work, come home, and make dinner,” Chiu reflects. “That was when they started to change.” Since then, the couple has gone on vacation with Chiu’s parents and “done many wonderful things.” From this experience, Shepard and Chiu learned that people have a deep capacity for change. Sometimes it happens overnight; sometimes it takes years. What remains constant is that change can and will occur.
To Shepard and Chiu, much has changed in the LGBTQ community over the years, and much has not. They are grateful that young LGBTQ people are more likely to be accepted, and vividly remember a time when “we were not as comfortable.” But, they also note that young people in the SF Bay Area face a range of intensifying issues. “A lot of young people in today’s economy are not given the opportunity to have a well-paid job,” says Shepard. As a result, “their stability and lives are still at risk.”
In particular, they identify high need amongst LGBTQ youth who flee unaccepting or unsafe home environments. “I think it’s important for the LGBTQ community to come together to make sure that the youth who have escaped their home situation get shelter and have a way to make a living,” emphasizes Chiu.
Shepard and Chiu see Horizons as a “mother organization” of LGBTQ nonprofits in the Bay Area, well-placed to continue the fight for equality and identify organizations that will effectively address these dynamic and ever-changing issues. “We’re proud to help them do that.”