How Can LGBTs Get Politicians To Start Caring About Homeless Queer Youth?

Before Carl Siciliano founded the Ali Forney Center in June 2002, New York City had no shelter at all for homeless LGBT youth—every month another person he knew would end up dead, doing sex work or selling drugs on the streets.

But even with Siciliano’s foundation, NYC still has only 250 beds for the estimated 1,150 to 1,500 homeless LGBT kids living without shelter. A Queer Rising rally this last week called for 100 more beds each year until NYC can meet its 3,800 homeless children.

As NPR’s Margot Adler reports, homeless kids don’t have power, money or votes, so “it’s hard to believe they will be at the top of many politicians’ list in future city and state budgets.”

Image via Franco Folini

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  • Fitz

    I don’t think we are at the point of figuring out how to make the government care
    about indigent queer youth. we are still at the point of needing to make ourselves care about them.

  • akn

    @Fitz: Exactly. Donating DIRECTLY (either in dollars or in volunteering time) to Ali Forney and other organizations like it is still — and likely will always be — a more efficient way of helping these youth than demanding loudly that an ambivalent government bureaucracy figure out how to funnel tax dollars towards their needs…

  • the other Greg

    Good point. Also the problem needs more publicity – how many gay adults are even aware of it?

    It’s like with Kip Tierney (recently deceased, & a lesbian) the founder of Rosie’s Place in Boston. Before the ’70s homelessness was thought of as exclusively an adult male (i.e. “bum/hobo”) problem. She noticed the increasing number of homeless women, some of whom had to dress as men even to get any services at shelters. At the time the concept of homeless women was pretty shocking to the public.

    The public in general may not care that much about LGBT homeless youth, but I’d guess a lot of LGBT adults just see “hustlers,” “junkies” etc. and haven’t thought (yet) about the causes.

  • Fitz

    And trust me, if there was government $ involved, there would be tremendous stupidness requirements. Like forced attempts at reunification, etc.

    Queer kids are our kids, and if you have any sense of social justice you will
    give at least a token donation.

    In the Bay Area, where I am, we have larkin St, and they are great– as is Lyric.

  • Eastwood

    Here’s one way to get politicians to care: they can use this to prove that they’re LGBT-friendly. As gay rights become more and more accepted across the country in the next decade or two, that will be important.

  • beergoggles

    This was on the questionnaire for those running for City Council from several gay orgs – needless to say nearly all of them were sympathetic and in favor of diverting funding and requiring local homeless shelters reach out to queery youth. I say ‘nearly’ all of them because the only one against it was the libertarian douche on the ticket. Thankfully we don’t get self-identified Republicans running for city council here.

  • Dan

    On a positive note, LGBT youth who turn 18 can now join the military, which provides three square meals a day and housing, plus training.

  • Lance Magic

    I have so much to say and yet all I can do is condense it into this short rendering at this time… that it is unthinkable today as it has been for years that these needs get ignored. None of this will ever see the light of day in a political speech, religious pigs obviously, predictably turn their heads and hold their noses thus reinforcing for me at least that the “god” they serve is actually made up of every detestable and devolved aspect of the human species and I celebrate people like the late Anton LaVey for illuminating this so clearly and all in all we are the “things” that society STILL does not want to deal with.

    No more. This bullshit stops here. I don’t know exactly how I will do it but I am so full of righteous indignation and nothing short of absolute fury about this one simple issue of sexuality in societies around the world that is yet such an infinitely deep and complex issue within a person that I am going to somehow make a difference to effect a change for the better.

    I have barely enough resources to take care of myself with right now but I promise you… I promise the world that I will spend the rest of my life in-part dedicated to making a difference. This will happen. If the human race can’t evolve it’s thinking then it will have it’s ass kicked and there won’t be a choice.

    This is war and unlike the Stonewall era, this war is going to be man and machine and the enemy is going to cease and desist or be destroyed. I don’t need to ask “Who’s with me?”

    You’ll all be with me when you get a hint of this and feel your empowerment rise within… you will be with me and I will be with you and really there will be no icon, simply a REAL community.

    My heart is broken to think of how many more will suffer until such a time as this can all begin and changes can be made. And my heart will break until the day I die at the thought of how many could not be reached, helped or saved regardless of how massive or effective the movement to do so becomes.

    Yes… this was the condensed version. I could write on the subject until the internet ran out of ink. -Lance Magic

  • Kyle

    By threats of violence. That might sound bad, but it’s not. Malcolm X knew what to do. The Black Panther Party. Politicians need to become scared to mention anything gay rights. They need to do as we say, or suffer the consequences. If oyu want freedom, you have to take it. It won’t be handed to you.

  • Abirdwillingtobeitself

    Kyle, Malcolm X had nothing to do with the Black Panther Party, which intimates how little you know about African American history. He never once threatened a politician or tried to make them afraid, a lie which, after all, only a racist white or one of their collaborators would ever think to say. You don’t even recognize the fact that self-defense is a vital American right, a right your white or otherwise-white ancestors fought and died for.

  • Abirdwillingtobeitself

    Now then, I wouldn’t want to leave that comment denouncing a racist (who will never publish his thoughts in print in his real name) without saying something about the article. I think the LGBT homeless struggle needs to be placed in the wider struggle of all homeless people. After all, LGBTs exist in every race, sex, and class. This, of course, is a long-term solution. I think Queer Rally’s idea of increasing the number of beds per year is a good immediate solution with little cost to the homeless shelters keeping them there.

  • Aiden

    @Dan: Correction, LGB people can.

  • Fitz

    @Aiden: PPS: Malcome very vociferously renounced his earlier violent rants and became a strong pacifist. That seems to get lost in
    the current telling of his story. People remember (?) the calls to rise up,
    but not the latter, Baez-days of pacifism and understanding that violence brings more violence. I’m angry. Furious. But I know better than to think that fists will help very much.

  • jeff4justice

    Way to go to the people trying to help out the homeless youth.

    However, I really dislike the idea of limiting the focus to just youth. There are LGBT adults who are homeless and need the LGBT community’s support too.

    In these economic times, we cannot rely on government alone to take care of helping the most vulnerable.

    This is another example why as a small population of oppressed people it is crucial that we all make a priority of making time at least once a month on a routine basis of getting involved to betting our community both politically and socially.

    Next, I am very disturbed by how easy it is to find gay sugar daddy web sites while there are fewer resources for LGBT youth and adults in need to find mentors and support systems while enduring hardships. We can do better.

    Regarding the need for shelter, how about the cities lucky enough to have LGBT centers or groups organize a sign-up system to house homeless LGBTs with well-to-do LGBTs who have a spare room?

    Also, thinking of the Safe Parking Program in Santa Barbara, a system could be devised to set up mobile homeless with people who let them park in their driveways and allow them to shower in the morning.

    How do you love the poor?

  • Fitz

    @jeff4justice: Good points!
    I would add, you don’t even need to be a well-to-do guy to help.
    I mean, a cot and a meal? A non predatory conversation? Makes a huge difference in a crisis.

    I have a 20 y/o– NOT a lover. (I promise) who I am mentoring..
    I don’t know how it will all come out.
    But every few months he comes by, and I buy him a sandwich and talk about college and
    financial aide and mean men and his health (he’s chubby). And you know, maybe I am full of myself- but damnit if it doesn’t feel pretty great.

    It’s so boring to just live for fucking and drugs and stuff. It really is.
    People are where it’s at.

  • Abirdwillingtobeitself

    @Fitz: Fitz, that’s still not the real story of what happened to Malcolm. His visit to Mecca and his conversion to Islam changed his religious beliefs about the place of black people in America, not his stance about armed self-defense. Malcolm had ALWAYS been opposed to the use of indiscriminate force. He had never encouraged anyone to do anything except to stand up for themselves in a moment of conflict, which is legally and morally known as self-defense, not warfare, not even gang warfare, and not even revenge killing.

  • ke

    @Abirdwillingtobeitself: Your reading comprehension must be off. I didn’t connect Malcolm X with The Black Panther Party. However, Huey Newton admired him greatly. I merely cited them ad examples of groups who fought against oppression with means they felt necessary. I also never correlated Malcolm X with violence or threatening politicians, although…authority that threatened or harmed him or an African-American would find themselves in the cemetary. Which is a frame of mind I support. Peace is fine…if it works.

  • ke

    Ad = as

  • Abirdwillingtobeitself

    @ke, you don’t have to doubt that my reading comprehension is superior to yours. If you’re Kyle, you should think about using a single name, unless you have some reason not to, for example, a fear that other people will be able to identify you as a racist. It was certainly strange to mention Malcolm X in the same breath as the Black Panther Party as though he belonged to it, and you did in fact “correlate” Malcolm X with making violent threats against politicians. The proposition that “Malcolm X knew what to do” loses its meaning if Malcolm X’s behavior toward those in power has nothing to do with Kyle’s suggestion that we act in the same way. If you think that Kyle wanted to express a coherent point of view in his reply, I would have to disagree, but perhaps that’s not your belief.

  • Another Adam

    Just for the record, Chicago has less than 200 beds for an estimated 10,000-15,000 homeless youth. At least 3,000 of those youth are believed to identify as LGBTQ, and the city currently has no LGBTQ-specific housing (although some great drop-in services)

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