Forty percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. Forty. Percent. That's nearly half of the homeless youth you see on the streets or in shelters, when only 3 to 5 percent of the general population identifies as LGBTQ. The statistics are even worse if you are transgender, particularly if you're a trans woman of color, like Angela Louis.
The reason is tragic: Like Angela was, most homeless LGBTQ youth were rejected by their family or kicked out of their homes by their own parents. Angela shares her experience:
[My mom said,] "I love you dearly, but I cannot raise a child who is in this lifestyle. I will give you as much money as you want, but you can't be in this household. Good luck, and have a nice life wherever you go." ... Coming from a household, coming from your own room, your parents and allowances, to, in 24 hours, you're now in a group home.
Angela went from shelters to homes to finally living with a boyfriend in Atlanta who sold drugs. After that relationship became abusive, Angela was on her own again and turned to escorting to support herself. After experiencing homelessness, sex work, abusive relationships, and being surrounded by negativity, Angela decided to take her life into her own hands.
I was always told, "You will never graduate. You're a faggot." I graduated, got accepted to college, and I got my diploma. I went home. I rang the doorbell, and Mama was like, "Hey, how are you?" I said, "Everything is good ... but somebody told me to deliver this to you." And she was just like, "Wow, you did it." And I was like, "Yeah. I did."
Angela's story is a message of how important it is for parents to love and support their children, but also how it's never too late to change your life for the better.
Live your life. Live. ... [A]t the end of the day, you have to find yourself. No matter where you come from, you can always change that and make something better of yourself.
For more stories, visit I'm From Driftwood, the LGBTQ Story Archive.
For resources or services regarding homelessness affecting LGBTQ youth, check out the Forty to None project, a program of the True Colors Fund.