Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis Source: Alberto Pezzali, File

LGBTQ+ Floridians are Abandoning the State, Asking for Help on GoFundMe

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 3 MIN.

LGBTQ+ Floridians are fleeing a state that has become increasingly hostile toward them under Gov. Ron DeSantis, and some are asking for help on GoFundMe to fund their exodus.

UK newspaper the Independent reported that, according Danielle Olivani, the head of Lake County Pride, the anti-LGBTQ+ policies of the state's governor, Republican presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis, have worked to drive a "mass migration" elsewhere.

"This comes as several transgender people are reportedly taking to GoFundMe to solicit donations to move out of the state," the newspaper detailed, adding that a number of "Pride groups in the Sunshine State have cancelled their celebrations that were set to take place during the month of June after the new laws have left the community worried about possible blowback."

Olivani said on an appearance on the The Daily Beast's podcast The New Abnormal that "there's no tolerance here," the Independent relayed. "They added that the new restrictions have especially affected younger members of the community," the newspaper added.

Local newspaper the Tampa Bay Times confirmed what Olivani was saying in an April 24 article, shortly after three anti-trans and anti-drag laws were passed by the state's Republican-led State house and lawmakers expanded the state's "Don't Say Gay" law to apply to all grades K-12.

"I spent 30 years in the closet, and I won't be going back now," one longtime Florida resident, Nikkie Jackson, who currently resides in Jacksonville, tearfully told the newspaper, before adding: "I'm scared – if they're targeting trans people now, they'll eventually come for the rest of us."

The newspaper noted that the rationale used by Florida lawmakers for the torrent of hostile legislation is a concern for children. But Jackson pointed out a crucial truth glossed over by lawmakers pushing those laws: "We don't want to hurt your babies. We just want them to be accepted for who they are."

"LGBTQ+ residents who are packing their bags say they no longer feel safe living in a state with legislation that they believe will harm members of their community, particularly transgender kids," the Tampa Bay Times noted.

One older couple, Clare Dygert and Simone Bouyer, had intended to remain in Florida for the rest of their lives. Those plans have been turned upside-down by the state's relentless attacks on the LGBTQ+ community.

"We love the weather, we love our town, and we love our friends here," Dygert said, before saying that she couldn't "afford how risky this place is becoming for me, personally."

"Dygert is getting older, she said," the newspaper recounted. "Proposals like House Bill 1403, which would allow doctors and insurance companies to drop patients based on a 'conscience-based objection,' frighten her."

"I'm very visibly out,'" Dygert explained. "Do I need to ask my ophthalmologist, 'Will you continue to treat me if this bill passes?'"

Such laws and policies are already affecting some.

"Chelf, a trans woman living in Orlando, wrote on their fundraising page that 'due to the new bill Desantis signed into law SB 254 I can no longer be provided medication from my doctor to continue my transition,'" the Independent noted.

Chelf, as some others have done, turned to GoFundMe to seek financial assistance in seeking safety elsewhere.

"At this point, I only have a week's worth left of my medication," Chelf said in a video on the site. "On top of that, the new bathroom ban bill HB 1521 could get me arrested for using a public restroom of the gender I identify with."

"Due to fear for my own safety and human rights, I have decided to try and escape Florida as soon as I possibly can," Chelf went on to say. "I'm trying to move to Illinois to be with the love of my life and also to settle down in a state I consider to be an LGBTQ+ safe haven."

Another transgender Floridian who had lost access to medical care, Violet Rin, detailed on the crowdfunding site that "My care provider for my HRT had to drop me, and so many trans people in Florida are being dropped by their care providers."

Watch Rin's video appeal below.

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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