(WEST HOLLYWOOD) The owners of three of America’s leading LGBT cruise companies along with Los Angeles community activists Claire Lucas and Mark Bromley announced a coordinated fund to raise money for disaster relief in that earthquake-ravaged country. The owners of Atlantis, Olivia and RSVP are all joining forces with others in the community to raise disaster relief from their current and past guests.
Rich Campbell, Chief Executive Officer of Atlantis Events, which had a gay and lesbian cruise departing yesterday from Miami with a scheduled stop on the northern coast of Haiti, noted that while the area they will visit was not directly damaged by the quake, "our guests have been watching with horror and concern as the painful images of suffering in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince come spilling forth on our televisions."
"Now is the time for us to lend our gay dollars to a compelling human tragedy that knows no gender or sexual orientation," said Campbell.
Judy Dlugacz, President and founder of Olivia Companies, a lesbian-oriented vacation company, explained that many LGBT Americans have visited Haiti on gay cruise ships. "So many of our passengers have been touched by the destruction and poverty in the Western Hemisphere's poorest country,” said Dlugacz. “It is important that as LGBT Americans, we come together to show our community's solidarity and support for those living through this unimaginable disaster."
Claire Lucas, an international development expert and a well known community activist and political fundraiser, is raising awareness within the community and worked with the American Red Cross to set up a dedicated donation site to collect donations from the LGBT community
"All of the money collected through this appeal will be managed by the American Red Cross," said Lucas. “The Red Cross will bundle these funds and record them as contributions from the LGBT community in America to the people of Haiti. The symbolism of a unified, community-based financial response is important, as it represents a fitting effort to reach beyond our borders with a message of hope and goodwill from LGBT Americans."
American Red Cross Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Floyd W. Pitts, is grateful. "We are thrilled with this partnership with the LGBT community and we are delighted to be working with organizations which take such a strong interest in humanitarian response," he said.
In addition to Atlantis and Olivia cruises, Charlie Rounds, President of RSVP cruises (a subsidiary of Atlantis), has also joined the effort. Mark Bromley, Chair of the Council for Global Equality, is also seeking to raise awareness within the LGBT community in response to the disaster. "Too often the LGBT community in the United States is portrayed as inwardly focused and unattached to the larger suffering beyond our borders, but we know that to be untrue, and as we watch the devastation in Haiti, we can also send a message about our community's larger concern for human suffering."