THE BLOG
07/07/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Be the Math

My dear girlfriend cheerfully admits she is a numbers nerd. She can read, remember and interpret a pie chart or a power point graph like nobody's business. While she's parsing the percentages, I tend to muse about the color palette they've chosen. Why that yellow with fuchsia? Not to imply that she sees things in black and white. She loves data and thanks to the recent work of the Williams Institute, the Movement Advancement Project and many academic LGBT studies, she has hard data aplenty to mull over. And I've decided a teal palette is universally appealing.

But check out these stats. There are 8.9 million LGBT adults in the US. Of self-identified LGBT people only 20% said they were fully out. 80% said they were fully or partially closeted. Of that 8.9 million, fewer than 304,000 donors gave $35 or more to 52 of the largest national and LGBT organizations. Fewer than 18,000 donors gave more than $1,000. And that was in 2007 when people actually had money! Or the illusion of money. There are fewer than 3 million unique names of people in all the databases of the 52 organizations in the US and many of those are the names of our straight allies.

After putting away her lab coat, my can-do galpal goes right to the drawing board, gets out the slide rule and the calipers and meets with people to try to figure out strategies that will increase LGBT ownership and support of our movement. I tend to go into a blind murderous panic. Pardon my apocalypticism, but those numbers are appalling. Even a soothing teal won't help.

Coming out is still the basic building block of our movement. Come out. Okay, more. You know what is involved. Enjoy the down time of your family's shunning you. They often come around. When they do, insist they get involved. Insist your friends come out. Demand help from your straight friends and allies. Get out your checkbook and join at least one LGBT organization. Volunteer. If you can swing it, donate more. Donate in the name of your favorite homophobe. Cancel your special annual gay pride brunch overlooking the parade and get out in the streets. Be counted.