Most solutions to the problem of youth homelessness center around increased shelter services, but we have established a three-tiered approach that is multidimensional and holistic; each part is important in its own right but ineffective without the others.
The satirical article described the mindset of a homophobic couple who, upon learning that their daughter is gay, sought to put her up for adoption. Those who believed the story did so because, even though the story is fake, the mindset it describes is painfully and horrifically real.
The police photographed my nose, my eye, my face and my arms. They documented the bruises. Then I saw my father arrive at the station in steel handcuffs. I will never forget that image, because it was the only time in all the years of abuse that I saw him arrested.
For the past two years I've worked on a project called "Homeless for the Holidays," interviewing and photographing homeless LGBT youth during the winter months as they sleep on the streets of NYC, so frankly, it infuriates me that our mayor would say that "no one is sleeping on the streets."
As LGBT youth come out at younger ages, thousands are driven from their homes by rejecting families. And in a society that has grown increasingly unwilling to support a safety net for the most vulnerable, they are forced to endure homelessness and destitution.
We know LGBT youth homelessness is not like the issues of marriage equality or the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," both more "palatable" not only to the public but to those who help fund and drive the agenda for LGBT equality. But we must do whatever we can to make it a priority.
We are thrilled that today, March 9, 2012, the Ruth Ellis Center will partner with the White House Office of Public Engagement and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to hold the first-ever LGBT Conference on Housing & Homelessness.
Family rejection and its tragic consequences are hardly new problems. But for many years, providers and advocates for homeless LGBT youth have, for many reasons, focused on the youth themselves, giving little attention to their families.
A solution to the homeless youth problem that is affecting not only Chicago's Boystown but other urban areas all over the country will involve more than just one father figure, for it takes a queer village to raise our children, too.
Twenty to 40 percent of homeless youth identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, yet only 3 to 5 percent of the general population does the same. Shock was the first thing I felt when I heard this statistic, and then sadness.
There is something about compartmentalizing my relationships that gives me stability: college roommates, professional acquaintances, Twitter friends, best friends, boyfriends, fiancé. Mingling things seems likely to lead to a tangled mess.
I witnessed Chicago's gay community conflicted over at-risk LGBT youth and the violence they brought upon Boystown. It got me thinking about getting older, the stability of settling down, and what it means to make a family of one's own.