Lucie’s Place, a non-profit organization aiding Arkansas LGBTQ youth, was very close to establishing a safe house in a residential neighborhood in northwest Little Rock. The house would have accepted LGBTQ people ages 18 to 25 who were abandoned by caretakers or fleeing an abusive relationship.
However, after the group received an email threatening to expose its location to possible violence, Lucie’s Place was forced to find a different location.
The email threat against the Arkansas LGBTQ youth home
The threatening email read:
We purchased a home in this neighborhood specifically because it was safe for our children. I do not want to live anywhere near a home like this. Since I have personal experience running a home like this, I am aware of the dangers involved, from a resident disclosing the location of the home, to a person tracking them down, to sneaking drugs in, to having a criminal background that’s undisclosed, etc.
This is a terrible idea for our neighborhood! If this passes, I will make it my personal mission to get all of our neighbors involved in disclosing the location of this home to anyone that we can and fighting the forward motion of this plan. This is absolutely unacceptable for this area… I’ve talked to all the neighbors within 500 feet of our house, and every single one of them feels the same way.
The email writer also mentioned that their neighborhood contained “elderly Christians who completely oppose that lifestyle.”
The Arkansas LGBTQ youth home organizers speak out
Although the email was sent without any name attached to it, Penelope Poppers, Executive Director of Lucie’s Place, Googled the sender’s email address and quickly discovered the sender’s Facebook profile. She saw that it belonged to a conservative Christian woman.
Poppers said that the sender likely contacted Lucie’s Place after seeing a now-deleted post that Poppers had placed in a neighborhood Facebook group. Poppers also says that the sender’s fears were misplaced.
Lucie’s Place understands the potential risks of running such a home, Poppers explains. She says that the house will have had no identifying external features. Its residents undergo extensive psychological evaluations by professionals and wait weeks before living there. (It’s not an emergency shelter.)
Furthermore, the house rules forbid any residents from disclosing its location, using drugs, having guests or committing illegal activities. If residents break the rules, they get evicted.
Since Lucie’s Place provides one of the only LGBTQ-affirming shelters in the state, the consequences of breaking the rules are a powerful deterrent for any LGBTQ person in dire need of housing and assistance.
Hope despite the hypocrisy
Poppers says, “It’s interesting that she said that she was concerned that residents would disclose the location of the home and then, in the same breath, she talks about how she would disclose the location of the home.”
“Some of the concerns she had about the house she herself would make sure that they happen,” Poppers adds, “almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Disclosing the location of the home could endanger people escaping abusive situations and subject the house and its residents to harassment, vandalism and potential violence from anti-LGBTQ people.
Despite the threat, Poppers says that the house received supportive Facebook comments. Lucie’s Place has already begun the search for an alternate safe house location, but Poppers acknowledges that there’s no way to know what the community reaction will be. Either way, her organization plans on doing what it can to make the home a reality.
You can donate to Lucie’s Place by heading here.
Feature image by Blue_Cutler via iStock