The Ali Forney Center, which provides housing and other services for homeless LGBT youth in New York City, has released a new video in its annual fundraising series, Homeless for the Holidays. The series draws attention to the struggles of homeless LGBT youth in New York City, who will be spending this holiday season much differently from many of their peers - without support from their families or a place to live, just because of who they are. The first video of the 2012 series features Rigo, who talks about combatting hopelessness after being thrown out of his home at age 14 and spending nights sleeping on the subway. Rigo also served in the military, where he says he had to hide his sexual orientation in order to avoid violence from fellow soldiers. Upon completing from his frist deployment, Rigo notes he was the only one in his unit without a home or family to return to, and so he continued sleeping on the subway. Rigo was only recently admitted to veteran housing.
Rigo was one of roughly 3,800 homeless youth in New York City, almost half of whom are LGBT. However, with only 250 homeless shelter beds provided by the city, most homeless youth are left to survive on the streets. Additionally, homeless LGBT youth are more likely than their straight peers to be subjected to violence on the streets and in the homeless shelter system. The Ali Forney Center's capacity to assist these youth was recently compromised by Hurricane Sandy, which destroyed the organization's lower Manhattan drop-in center that provided food, showers, clothing, medical care, HIV testing and treatment, and mental health and substance abuse services to homeless LGBT youth. You can donate to the Ali Forney Center online here and help the many homeless LGBT youth in New York City. To find out more about the work of the Ali Forney Center and ways to get invovled, visit www.aliforneycenter.org.