Thursday, December 15, 2011

Homeless for the Holidays

via GLAAD, by Elana Stone

Did you know that there are approximately 3,800 homeless young people in NYC? Did you also know that 40 percent – or 1,500 – identify as LGBT?

These statistics are important and vital to understanding the epidemic of homelessness for LGBT young people, but statistics won’t let you know what it means to be young, LGBT, and homeless all because your family rejects you for who you are.

Statistics won’t change hearts and minds, but stories will.
“I was 15 the first time I got kicked out of my house. My lowest point of trying to make it on the streets was three weeks ago. My girlfriend and I had to sleep on the roof of a building in the Bronx.

It was raining cats and dogs. I let her sleep, and stayed awake to make sure we were safe.”

–Tiffany “Life” Cocco

Homeless for the Holidays is a campaign through the Ali Forney Center to raise awareness about the lives of LGBT youth who are homeless.

Designed to feature a different young person three times a week for the month of December, the campaign illustrates the very real struggle that each of these young people face as part of the larger push to increase funding and access to services and beds for homeless LGBT youth.

The Ali Forney Center’s ED, Carl Siciliano writes, “Every young person deserves to be loved,” which is at the heart of the campaign.

For each of the young people featured in the campaign, Siciliano says, “[C]oming out meant being driven from their homes, denied of love, denied of all economic support, made to suffer utter destitution.

And, shamefully, despite the numbers of such youth across the nation reaching epidemic proportions, their plight has not been at the forefront of the attention of the LGBT community.

Siciliano calls these youth the unsung heroes of the LGBT movement, for having the courage to tell their stories, to come out, and to face such terrible rejection for their honesty.

He asks the question, “How horrible it is that kids are made to experience such brutal abuse, just for being who they are.”

So take a moment and hear these stories. Read about what it means to be young, LGBT and without a place to live.

Read the rest

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