After Anti-Gay Pizza Parlor Gets $800,000, Activists Crowdfund for Homeless LGBT Youth

Campaigns like #Pizza4Equality are trying to match the massive outpouring of support for two anti-marriage equality pizza store owners in Indiana.

A campaign dubbed #Pizza4Equality has raised more than $100,000 in just four days to benefit a national advocacy organization for homeless LGBT youth. Shutterstock

Progressive activists are crowdfunding to support homeless LGBT youth and restore pizza’s good name after a viral GoFundMe campaign raised more than $842,000 for the two anti-marriage equality owners of Memories Pizza in Indiana.

A campaign dubbed #Pizza4Equality has raised more than $100,000 in just four days to benefit Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Fund, a national advocacy organization for homeless youth who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.

On the local level, another campaign has raised more than $30,000 for Indiana Youth Group, which has provided safe spaces and support for LGBT youth in Indiana since 1987.

And Kansas-based Equality House has raised more than $40,000 through its Virtual Pizza campaign, with a goal of $100,000 to make 100 hotel rooms available to homeless LGBT people for one year.

The Memories Pizza GoFundMe campaign, started by a conservative commentator who has worked with discredited right-wing provocateur James O’Keefe, was GoFundMe’s second most successful campaign to date, beating out an $800,000 campaign to support a Boston Marathon bombing survivor.

It was “such a waste” for so much money to be raised for two private citizens who oppose equality, Scott Wooledge, a social media consultant and progressive activist who started the #Pizza4Equality campaign, told Rewire.

“A lot of people were saying, ‘I wish a good cause could get that,’” Wooledge said. “And it just got me thinking—let’s give it a try. How about we challenge ourselves to match them?”

Wooledge follows LGBT and youth homelessness as an issue and calls it “one of the more heartbreaking things that shouldn’t happen in America.”

He said he isn’t sure if his campaign will actually match the drive for Memories Pizza, but he feels “great” about how far it’s come in such a short time—the campaign went viral over the weekend after columnist Dan Savage and Wonkette editor Ana Marie Cox tweeted about the campaign.

The campaign is scheduled to end on April 29, which True Colors is promoting as “40 to None Day,” a national day of awareness highlighting the fact that 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBT.

Wooledge figures his campaign will continue in some form. He’s already heard from groups in cities like Los Angeles and Chicago that wanted to hold “big gay pizza parties” in response to the Memories Pizza incident, and he has a website signup for groups that want to hold similar “hate-free” parties and raise money for local youth homelessness groups.

Even the most ambitious private crowdfunding program can’t fill the massive homeless youth funding gap for which Congress is responsible.

True Colors and other homeless advocacy groups are pushing Congress to pass a long overdue re-authorization of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, which would grant an additional $50 million to badly underfunded programs.

That bill has stalled partly because Republicans object to its non-discrimination protections for LGBT youth.