Gay Crowd-Funding Website Forced to Shut by Amazon

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Kurt Edwins, right, with his mother before she passed away of brain cancer in 2002. He started a project on crowd funding site to raise money to have her moved to a cemetery where he would be allowed to visit.

With just a one-lined email, countless activists and their causes were shut down., a crowd-funding site for LGBT causes, had its credit card processing managed by Amazon Payments before the company abruptly halted its services on Feb. 19.

“One day I woke up to an email, ‘your site’s been closed,’” Adam Kotkin said. “My first response was that it was spam.”

Kotkin is the CEO of Apps Genius Corp., the parent company of About 20 projects have gone up since the site’s inception and another 30 to 40 were waiting their turn to go live.

When he called Amazon to straighten things out, he was passed around to four different people, each giving him different reasons: They didn’t have to say why, because they chose to, because they’re a nonprofit (which Kotkin proved incorrect), and because it no longer wanted to work with crowd funding sites.

However, its sister site continues to run without a problem. The only differences between the two sites are its logos and that one is for LGBT causes. The most troubling to Kotkin is that the almost $7,000 raised by supporters is locked up in Internet limbo.

Kotkin started in December 2012 after finding that a lot of crowd funding sites were discriminatory or did not provide the focus that his site could. The site launched a few months after, which focuses on animal activism.

The projects on range the gamut, from support for volunteers at the highly anticipated Winter Party Festival in Miami, helping a gay rugby team buy uniforms, to raising money for a man to bury his mother.

Growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, Kurt Edwins was raised in a church where he was taught adamantly that homosexuality was a sin. When he came out to his mother at 28, she struggled but eventually embraced him.

“We were very, very close and she was OK with my sexuality. So that wasn’t a problem. She also said that if that side of her family ever kicked me out or anything that she would leave the family,” he said.

When she died of glioblastoma, brain cancer, in 2002, she was buried in her parents’ private cemetery. After her death, Edwins was told he was not welcome to visit because he is gay.

This past Christmas, with the support of his father’s side of the family, Edwins decided to take a stand and have his mothers’ body moved to his paternal grandparents’ private property. There, he is welcome to visit and eventually be buried next to her. The whole ordeal will cost roughly $5,500.

“This is more for me so I can put flowers on her grave,” he said. “It’s closure on my end, not in any way animosity or getting even.”

Edwins’ project went up on, where the community came out in full force. Some emailed their support, and two young, gay church members called him to talk about their contemplation of suicide.

When Amazon Payments unexpectedly shut down the site, Edwins’ project had almost $2,000 raised. He’s reached out to Amazon three times with no luck.

Amazon has not responded to a call and email from SFGN.

“The people that are suffering is the LGBT community,” Kotkin said of projects like that of Edwins. “People are very frustrated.”

“It makes me feel disgusted when you have people pour their heart and soul out into these projects, and working to try to get them funded,” Edwins said. “To be cut off from Amazon for no reason, it‘s just heartbreaking.”

“To know that I could lose all of those funds and start over, sometimes you just can’t start over, you know?”