An Episcopal church in Queens, New York, is opening its doors to young people after a $200,000 renovation, aided by the Ali Forney Center for LGBT Youth. St. Andrew's Church in Astoria is now a shelter for gay, homeless youth, up to 16 at a time.
As the Advocate reports, this new shelter is a safe haven for LGBT teenagers, many of whom have had to leave their homes.
Carl Siciliano, executive director of the center, says he's grateful for the church's philanthropic outreach.
"So many of these young people are rejected by their families because of religion," he says. "Kids come in who have been put through exorcisms, and we've had kids whose parents make them go see priests who tell them they're evil and hateful and that they're going to hell. It's a really upsetting and unfortunate situation that so many young people are put through this kind of trauma by their parents' religious beliefs, so it's very moving to see a religious organization that's able to say that these youth should be affirmed and cared for, so I'm very grateful to the Episcopal diocese of Long Island for their support."
The Ali Forney Center rescues LGBT young people from the streets and attempts to place them in safe homes. The center was named after a homeless gay teen who was murdered on the streets of New York in 1997.