While the struggle for gay rights typically focuses on civil unions and marriage, homeless gay youth is a clear and frightening epidemic. There are 1.6 million homeless kids in America, with 40% of those LGBT, a massively disproportionate figure. Thousands of these kids live in New York City and many receive vital services from the Ali Forney Center.
The Ali Forney Center, founded in 2002, is the nation's largest and most comprehensive organization dedicated to homeless LGBT youth and currently services over 2,000 kids.
What impresses me most about AFC is that they don't just provide their kids with a place to sleep, they provide them with a second chance. Carl Siciliano, the Executive Director, explains, "By offering these kids warm and loving homes, and giving them the support and guidance to get back to school and into jobs, we constantly reinforce the fact that they are worthy of being loved and being accepted."
Being accepted is an important part of any kid's life, but especially LGBT ones. Statistics show that a quarter of all kids who come out are rejected by their families. This gives our community a responsibility to help these kids transition into adulthood and the AFC takes the responsibility seriously.
My experience as a supporter of AFC has allowed me to meet and spend time with many of the center's staff and clients and I'm convinced that this organization's health is absolutely vital to the LGBT community. Recently budget cuts from government, corporation, and foundation support has hit the Ali Forney Center hard and they are asking for our help getting through this economic crisis.
Watching the escalation of the gay rights movement is exciting and I hope that some of the energy being devoted to marriage marches and rallys can be directed at providing for the least of us in our community. I urge you to visit the AFC's website and make a donation, even $10 or $20 can be a help in this time of need.