As families across the country gather to celebrate the holidays, it’s important to remember the many people, particularly LGBTQ-identified youth, who are without a permanent home or family simply because of who they are and love.
In fact, a census conducted by the Empire State Coalition and released by the New York City Council in 2008, found that of the 3,800 homeless youth in New York State, 40 percent – more than 1,600 –identify as LGBTQ. Even more, the same report found that LGBTQ youth are eight times more likely to experience homelessness than heterosexual youth, mostly because of family rejection.
To address the growing pandemic, the Ali Forney Center launched the Homeless for the Holidays 2012 project, a video campaign that features LGBTQ youth discussing their experiences with living on the streets of New York City.
“[S]tatistics don't adequately express the horror of what these youths endure. They don't express the suffering these kids go through; the psychological torment of being rejected, feeling unloved, alone and terrified, or the physical torment of the cold, exposure to the elements, hunger and chronic sleep deprivation.
I want to wake our city up to this atrocity that goes on in our midst, of these thousands of kids left out alone on the streets without shelter beds.So I have been spending time with these youths, photographing them in the spaces where they try to make it through the nights, listening and recording them tell of what they suffer. Allowing them to show us and tell us what they go through.
The Ali Forney Center has joined a number of other LGBT advocates and providers in creating The Campaign for Youth Shelter, which calls on the City to commit to a plan to add 100 youth shelter beds per year until such time as there are no longer waiting lists at the youth shelters. Alas, our Mayor refuses to discuss this; instead he tries every year to cut the few shelter beds. In 2012 he proposed reducing the number of youth shelter beds by 60%, forcing the New York City Council to fight to restore the few beds available.”
Check two of the Homeless for the Holidays videos below. To watch them all, visit Homeless for the Holidays 2012.