Growing up in suburban North Carolina, the sound of a tinkling bell and the subsequent call for donations became ubiquitous with the holiday season. Each time I went to the grocery store or Wal-Mart, I’d see someone ringing the bell for the Salvation Army, and if I was lucky, they might even be wearing a Santa suit or dressed up like an elf. As a kid, I had fond memories of running up to the person ringing the bell, slipping a dollar into the bucket, and feeling like I’d done my part.
Increasingly, those memories have become clouded, fogged up with knowledge about the Salvation Army’s complicated history with the LGBTQ+ community. These days, it’s hard for a queen like me to scroll through her newsfeed around the holiday season without seeing a post from someone reminding me not to give to the Salvation Army because they are homophobic, transphobic, fundamentalist, or worse.