Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Homeless Gay Youth Need You To Rally

Let me start out with the most important thing I can in this post right now. Gay homeless youth need your help! To that end The Ali Forney Center will be holding a rally in Union Square, NYC at 6:30pm on June 14th, 2010. That being said I’ll expound a bit on why gay youth need your assistance and attendance. The end of this post has some resources to help.

The majority of gay youths become homeless not because they wish to, but because they are forced to. Do you remember ever thinking as a youth that no one understood you? Running away from home? Trying drugs just for the chance to escape the pressures of life? Perhaps you do. If you don’t I’m sure you know those who have, whether it was your family or even your neighbors. This is compounded for many gay youths, many who have taken this route after being turned out into the street as if they had no family.

Here are some facts about gay youths and why homelessness is such a huge problem. It’s a problem most don’t really touch on. It’s always easier to say “ He/she chose to live in the streets”. The truth is for gay youth being homeless isn’t a choice. They didn’t choose it any more than they “chose” to be gay. An adult has learned coping skills and has forged his or her own family or friends. Gay youth like homeless straight youths, haven’t gotten the chance to forge those links. Most have been kicked out into the streets by their parents. They are often kicked out to the streets where they often turn to drugs or prostitution to survive. Here is the reality:

1) Most gay youth realize between 5 to 7 years of age that they are attracted to the same sex. This does not mean they know they are gay. They just know that  they are “different”. It is about this same time that their parents and family members also realize it too. It's also the time when these family members attempt to “break them out” of effeminate (for “sissies) or manly (for tomboys) behaviors. It is a huge mistake.

2) While the realization of being different may start early on (as it did for me), most realize WHY they are different by the time they are 13. For me the age was 8. Let me be clear...I didn’t have sex at eight, but I knew I was attracted to boys. It was an attraction that I’m glad to say my widowed mother whose uncle was out in 1916, loved me no less for. Today, I’m a happy gay man living with my partner whom I will be marrying after 14 years at the end of this month.

3) By the time most gay youths are in high school things become worse. Not only is there family pressure to conform to the “norm” of sexual roles i.e. heterosexuality, but they have peer pressure as well. They also may have teachers that don’t /won’t understand them because of their own beliefs or lack of training in LGBT issues (forbidden still in most schools). This lack of knowledge sometimes harms gay youth rather than help.

4) When the time comes for most gay youth to be concerned with graduating from school most have not been prepared, or have lost the will to fight the lack of knowledge and support around them. Many drop out. Many are forced out under the pressure to conform. Many can’t even go to a counselor or a school doctor to report a homophobic incident, or maybe speak about being afraid of having an std. Unfortunately most can't even speak to someone on  how to have safer sex. Why should this be the case? It shouldn’t and has to change.

I could go on and on, but I won’t. I know most don’t want to read through a book. I’ll just write more at some later date. I will, however, leave you with some links that I hope you will use to help those kids who  may feel like they can handle it all. Who on this earth has done it all alone? No one! If you want to learn more, here’s a start.

Resources by The Ali Forney Center for Homeless Youth in various States:

Gay Student Facts that you may want to know more about:

Organization for students parents and teachers to affect change in schools for LGBT youth

To Read the stories of homeless youth and what they go through:

So please, once again, drop by Union Square if you can. Show your support for gay youth. June 14th, 2010 at 6:30pm.


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