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Sitting on top of a U-haul truck for 48 hours may seem like a strange way to draw awareness to a cause, but it sure caught my attention.

There is an epidemic of LGBT kids who are kicked out of their homes when they come out of the closet to their families. They have nowhere to go, and end up on the streets doing whatever they have to in order to stay alive.

But Richard Westbrook, through his organization Lost n Found, hoped living homeless on the truck would "raise awareness of the staggering number of homeless gay youth on Atlanta's streets."

                         

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless:

* Nearly 40 percent of all homeless kids are gay.

* 58 percent of homeless LGBT youth become sexual victims on the streets.

* Nearly 62 percent of homeless LGBT youth end up killing themselves.

Said Westbrook, "...we have 24-48 hours to get a youth off the street before they have to do something extreme for survival - whether that be prostitution, selling drugs, or stealing."

Westbrook worries there are at least 200 homeless gay kids on the streets of Atlanta every night.

       It's a huge problem and it's only going to get bigger.
Lost n Found works with the Atlanta Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to collect coats, canned food, and donations. Here's the video from CBS Atlanta News.

                                                 [squiggle]

Much of this epidemic is caused by self-righteous and detestable lunatics like Tony Perkins, president of the hate group Family Research Council, who admonish parents to reject their LGBT children because of their sexual orientation, with absolutely no thought to the staggering consequences of doing so.

According to the article "Risk Factors for Attempted Suicide in Gay and Bisexual Youth" in Pediatrics Journal:

The odds ratios reported indicate that a homosexual youth experiencing high levels of rejection by family have a risk of attempting suicide as much as 8 times more than those experiencing little or no rejection by family. Looking at the raw numbers, this means as many as 67 percent of study subjects in the high rejection group had attempted suicide by age 25! Illicit drug use, substance abuse disorders, and risky sexual behaviors are also similarly increased in this group. The apparent effect of family rejection is devastating.
                                               [squiggle]

I know everyone is pretty squeezed out right now, between the election and the upcoming holidays, but some of the items they're asking for are basic and affordable. Please read it over and see if there's any way you can help. In addition to goods, they're looking for services as well (end of the list), so if you live in the Atlanta area, please see if there's any way you can help.

We are currently in need of the items below for our group home, office, and outreach programs. Please contact us to arrange for drop-off or pick-up of items. Any items we cannot use we will donate forward, sell at a yard sale, or give to our clients who have moved into their own apartments.

    Gift cards are the easiest way to help us get items we need
        Kroger, Publix
        CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens
        Target, Walmart
        Home Depot, Lowes
        Amazon.com
        OfficeMax, Staples, Office Depot

   Furniture & Hardware
        6' to 8' folding tables (2)
        Folding chairs (8-10)

    Housewares & Linens

        Hand towels
        Dish towels
        Drape panels
        Cutting boards
        Knife sharpener (this is a good, inexpensive one)

    Foods
        Milk & other dairy
        Fresh vegetables and fruits
        Meats
        Instant noodles, cereal and snack foods (for emergency food packs)

    Office supplies
        Pens, highlighters
        Paper
        Paperclips

    Miscellaneous
        Van or SUV with 3rd row seating
        Retail space

Donation of Services
We are in the need of services by certain kinds of professionals. If you can help us in a professional capacity, please let us know:
   

Handyman or other repair services.
    IT support services.
    Moving services for our "graduating" clients.
    Health services, particularly doctors in general or endocrinology practice.
    Mental health services (psychology, psychiatry).

Originally posted to sboucher on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 06:39 PM PST.

Also republished by Angry Gays, Milk Men And Women, TransAction, Invisible People, and LGBT Kos Community.

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Comment Preferences

  •  67% of the "high rejection" LGBT youths (14+ / 0-)

    attempted suicide?  Jesus, that's horrifying. And heartbreaking.  And absolutely enraging . . .

    Every honest communication poses a risk that we will hear something that could challenge or change us. -- Kenneth Cloke

    by GreenMtnState on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 07:06:36 PM PST

  •  My son recently came out to me as bisexual (17+ / 0-)

    And knowing the increased risk of suicide and depression among LGBT youth has me doing everything I can to reassure him nothing has changed, as PFLAG advises. He still has to do his homework, he should still use protection if he has sex, and he's still the son I love to death.

    He has asperger's and isn't often very expressive, but when I said nothing had changed in how I felt about him, he gave me the biggest smile. I wish every parent of a young person who comes out would realize that his or her child's life could be at stake and they need support more tham ever.

    Your post is so painful to read. I can imagine how lonely and hurting and scared these kids must be. I really appreciate this group's efforts and desire to make sure these kids know that there is nothing wrong with them -- it is their parents who are fucked up.

    We Won't Let Republicans Replace Medicare with GOP Vouchercare!

    by CatM on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 07:14:04 PM PST

    •  You're clearly a loving, supportive, (10+ / 0-)

      and intelligent parent, and I congratulate you. We can only wish that there were more like you, and fewer who reject their offspring as "imperfect."

      It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

      by sboucher on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 07:20:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It feels weird (8+ / 0-)

        recommending a post full of praise for one's self, but thank you. I still have a lot of questions and confusion, not because I am unhappy about who he is, but because I am very worried for him. It must be so hard for these kids to tell their parents, and to have that bravery and the trust they have in their parents love -- that it will overcome religious bigotry -- crushed is so incredibly tragic. For me, it's not about intelligence, just love. I have spent his whole life trying to make him happy and keep him safe. And the minute after he told me he was bisexual, it was easy to see he was the exact same kid as he was 2 minutes earlier. I don't know why that's so hard for parents to see.

        How do we educate these parents and counter the damage these zealous homophobic religious groups are doing to these families?

        We Won't Let Republicans Replace Medicare with GOP Vouchercare!

        by CatM on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 07:30:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I understand where you're coming from (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Steveningen, Quinagin, FarWestGirl, CatM

          because I have a nephew with Asberger's. It's hard enough for them to form relationships, so it's a joy that he's been able to make this connection.

          Being a parent of a child with Asberger's means a lot of extra work to do as all parents want to: keep their children happy and safe. You've earned bragging rights.

          It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

          by sboucher on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 07:36:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Just being there for him (6+ / 0-)

          will help keep the sad statistics from growing. Believe me, he's facing a much better world than I grew up in. I'll continue to do my part and fight for his future. You've done a nice job with your part already.

        •  You're an awesome parent (6+ / 0-)

          and your love & support will make a huge difference in your son's life.  There's some very solid research showing that LGBT kids who get support from their familes avoid most of the harmful outcomes that can effect kids who are rejected.

          If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend looking at the Family Acceptance Project.  I thik it will be both useful and reassuring for you.

          I've been working with homeless kids for more than 25 years, and have seen many gay kids who were kicked out by their families.  It's heartbreaking. But there are lots good programs out there that help kids develop the resilience they need to makt it to adulthood.

          best of luck.

  •  I have to give this diary (7+ / 0-)

    a huge thumbs up. It's so important. As soon as I finish babysitting Top Comments, I'll read the commentary.

  •  Wow. (5+ / 0-)

    Those numbers are hard to accept.  I checked your source (here's a more direct link).

    The suicide rate is appalling.  I hope this program is more widespread than just Atlanta!

    I'm still mad about Nixon.

    by J Orygun on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 08:02:32 PM PST

    •  I wondered about that, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Steveningen, blueoasis, FarWestGirl

      whether other cities have similar programs. One would think so, but I'm sure there's not enough in any case. I could do more research...

      Thanks for the direct link. I was starting to go crazy getting all my links in a row.

      It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

      by sboucher on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 08:05:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  There are programs across the country (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sboucher, blueoasis, FarWestGirl

        Of course, not enough, but the federal government funds street outreach and shelter programs for homeless youth in every state.  A few are exclusively focused on LGBT youth, but all of them are supposed to have policies & procedures to ensure that they are safe & welcoming for queer kids.
        It goes without saying that in real life, some agencies do much better at it than others.

        I wodnered where the statistic about "62% of homeless gay kids end up killing themsleves" comes from?  That seems very, very high in my experience.  I wouldn't doubt that % make suicide attempts.  Is it posssible that it meant attempts, rather than completed suicides?

        •  I'm not sure. (0+ / 0-)

          The news article with the video said:
           "According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, 58 percent of homeless LGBT youth become sexual victims on the streets.

          And the suicide rates are staggering. Nearly 62 percent of homeless LGBT youth end up killing themselves."

          But then the Coalition for the Homeless says:
          "LGBT homeless youth commit suicide at higher rates (62%) than heterosexual homeless youth (29%)."

          More research will be needed here.

          It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

          by sboucher on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 09:01:04 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this. (5+ / 0-)

    I didn't know about this group.  Payday this Friday, and I'll definitely be making a donation.

  •  Make no mistake about how important (6+ / 0-)

    last Tuesday was to a better future for our youth. Even though Brian and I don't have children, they remain in our hearts while we continue to pave the road before them. We know the pain and want to spare them.

  •  My heart breaks for these kids. (4+ / 0-)

    My daughter came out to me two years ago when she was 19.  I live in NYC and was honestly, I was unfazed, so was my younger daughter. I more cared that she didn't think it would give her special treatment or make her different in my eyes or in the eyes of her family. It didn't and hasn't.

    Reading this I realize that we are fortunate and take it for granted how close we are.  I will donate this week to both shelters.  I joined SAGE on Facebook and it's so weird I was reading PFLAG hours ago.

    I'm going to ask about volunteering with people of Ali Forney.  Again, heartbreaking what these poor kids have to deal with and suffer through.

  •  I know about this issue all too well (7+ / 0-)

    as here in Macaca Country, also known as Non-Northern-Virginia, I have taken in two teenagers who had been thrown out by their parents. Both were first befriended by my kids, then became known to me. The first young man was living on the streets. He stayed on my couch for about two weeks, then my son set him up in a tent in our back yard. This sounds awful, but this young man wanted autonomy and some privacy. He managed to get a job, then bought a van and lived in it for a while. Now I am glad to say he has a good job out of state and is making a decent living. I have no idea how things are between him and his family, but I wish him well.

    The second person was a young woman who was born with characteristics of both sexes. Unfortunately the doctors decided she was a boy - she was only an infant and had no say in the matter. She was also living on the streets, though here in our small town the danger quotient isn't very high. I knew about her for nearly a year as my kids got to know her and told me her story. Then came the several times she had no where to stay, so she stayed on the sofa. That happened more and more until she lived with us for a year. Her story isn't as happy as the young man's because she is obviously "different" and her health is quite bad. I understand she and her mother have worked some things out, and she is living near her now, so she has a backup.

    The blatant cruelty in these cases baffle me. I couldn't stop loving my children, or kick them out even if they killed someone! I'd grieve, and know they were ill. But by God I'd go visit them in prison and tell them how much I still loved them!

    One final story. I have an old friend who became very right-wing Christian. She attends a whack job church, and does whatever the Right Reverend Billy Bob Bumfuck tells her to do. When her daughter was 20 years old and newly married, she and her new husband thought they'd try another church. My friend and her husband were told to shun her daughter, and they DID! They wouldn't speak to her until she finally caved and came back to their little fucked up church. So they do it to their kids, straight or gay, in some churches. So sick and so sad.

  •  As I've noted elsewhere (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sboucher

    I have far more experience with this issue than I would like. I am lucky in that none of my experience is first hand but that is not the case for numerous friends I've had over the years. In a certain sense it is fortunate that the issues you've presented are receiving more attention than they ever have before but the enormous pain and loss that has taken place over the years is beyond estimation and none of it--absolutely none of it--is necessary.

    To the extent I'm able, I include facilities such as the Ali Forney Center in my charitable donations. They serve an enormously important purpose.

  •  What is really needed? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sboucher

    That's a long list of money and things, when what homeless people really need is space and acceptance.

    Money just goes back into the consumer economy, which the homeless are only on the ragged edge of anyway.  The same for things, which by being reused, make the money stretch a little farther.  How about asking for people to donate that spare bedroom that they only use for storage?  How about finding places to take people in, instead of leaving them out?

    I have personal experience that relates to this, as I took in a homeless person, who lived in a guest house on my property for a little over a year.  His family had thrown him out on account of his drinking, but him getting drunk in the guest house was something that I could accept.  

    He didn't want for any of the things listed above.  He would do odd jobs for me around the property or for the neighbors, and as long as he had a few bucks to buy beer, he was (relatively) happy.  Once he had a place to come home to, instead of sleeping behind a dumpster, things began looking up for him.  

    There are probably enough spare bedrooms, guest houses, enclosed patios, cabanas, attic lofts, parked RVs, old trailers, garages, and other usable quarters in America that there shouldn't be a "homeless" problem.  Finding a space where the down and out can park for a while is definitely possible.  It's that second part, acceptance, that is the stickler.  

    •  You make excellent points (0+ / 0-)

      that the homeless need more than things, and it would be a better place if more people offered a place to live and get one's life together.

      I've been there, homeless until I got into a transitional shelter, where I slept for a year. (Unable to work -> 3 years to get disability = homelessness.) So I ask you not to downplay the appreciation of things, like warm, dry socks; a blanket or coat; a tarp to sleep on or under.

      I saw this image on facebook, and almost all of the responses thought it was hilarious. Not me.

      I posted a comment along the response of "How dare you laugh? Most of you are one crisis away from being homeless yourself. This isn't a joke, it's a commentary on how people don't see the homeless, they look right through them as if they're not really people. What you should be thinking is "There for the graces go I."

      It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

      by sboucher on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 12:59:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  'Things' are part of the problem (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sboucher

        The reason I 'downplay' (your choice of words, not mine) things is that our material culture makes us think that tossing a few things at the homeless, like socks or a tarp, are going to solve the problem.  They aren't.  

        The homeless need a place to call home first.  Even if it is a tent in someone's backyard, like LFB's post upthread, it is a place from which they can start to get their life back together.  

        The cities that are called the meanest cities to the homeless have one thing in common -- they deny the homeless any place within the city limits to set down, even temporarily.  It's akin to the signs that some cities would put at the edge of town during the Depression advising the unemployed to keep on moving.  

        The Communists had an interesting way of taking care of the homeless problem.  Everyone had an official place of residence.  Anyone who didn't was a bomzh (Russian acronym for "without official place of residence"), and the social workers were charged with assigning them to a place.  So there really was no homelessness in the Soviet Union.  (But it becomes a completely different discussion if you want to talk about the quality of that housing.)

        As long as housing is a commodity to be distributed by the rules of capitalism, there will be those that are left out.  Capitalism is never about people and their social problems, just about making profits on commodities.  And in that world, gay teenagers just don't have the capital to play the game.  Giving them a few things (dry socks and a tarp) may tide them over until tomorrow, but what they really need is a place.

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