A faith-based homeless youth centre rejected a $3,000 donation from a Gay Men’s Chorus – at the same time as making an emergency plea for government funding.
The Portland Gay Men’s Chorus had raised more than $3,000 for charity through a performance at a Methodist church in Grants Pass, Oregon.
The group had attempted to donate the proceeds from the concert to local Grants Pass charity Hearts With A Mission, which provides shelter and support to runaway, and at-risk youth.
However, the charity declined the donation because the donor was an LGBT group, fearful of a negative reaction from its evangelical Christian support base.
Despite declining the $3,000 donation from the Gay Men’s Chorus, the charity recently made a plea for $26,000 of emergency taxpayer funding from the Department of Public Safety – leading to strong criticism locally.
Despite the anger, the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus has avoided directly criticising the youth shelter.
PGMC Executive Director Richard Jung said in a statement: “In keeping with our mission to ‘affirm the worth of all people,’ PGMC and its chorus members cover all costs associated with our tours, leaving all earned proceeds in the host communities.
“These concerts have raised monies for charities as diverse as local arts organizations, youth groups, homeless advocacy, and AIDS support organizations.
“Last month we were honored to perform to a sold-out house in Grants Pass at the invitation of the Newman United Methodist Church [and] remain deeply appreciative of the kind hospitality we received.
“Whatever controversy may have surfaced since, what is most important to us is that on one evening, a community came together united by music. We look forward to performing there again in the future.”
In a statement, Hearts With A Mission said the situation “should have been handled differently”.
It said: “We regret the outcomes of turning down the funds from Portland Gay Men’s Chorus event. We recognize this situation should have been handled differently.
“Hearts With A Mission made this decision in an attempt to keep the focus on the youth services we provide and avoid undo [sic] controversy.
“We are very glad another local program serving homeless youth was the beneficiary of the funds.
“We did not mean to disrespect the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus or to the LGBTQ Community.
“Hearts With A Mission believes in helping all youth, regardless of sexual orientation, race, religion, or ethnicity. We meet every youth where they are at and welcome them into our shelters.
“This is how we started 8-years ago and it is how we will be 20 years from now.
“Our inclusive practices apply not only to the youth we serve, but also to our staff, board members, volunteers, and community partners.
“These are the values we live by. As a result, we have nondiscrimination policies and procedures in place we adhere to with the strictest of standards.”
One commenter said: “You should be absolutely ashamed. There was nothing Christian about your behavior. Maybe you need to go back and study your bibles a little more.”