“Min mor smed mig ud, da hun fandt ud af, at jeg var homoseksuel. Jeg har altid vidst, at jeg var anderledes. Jeg kan huske, at jeg som otte-årig kunne mærke, at jeg ikke kunne lide pigerne på samme måde som drengene. Min familie har prøvet at ignorere det.
Da jeg var 14 år, forsøgte jeg at begå selvmord, i vores badekar derhjemme. Da jeg fortalte min mor hvorfor, sagde hun: “Du er klam. Du bliver nødt til at forsvinde, inden du gør din bror og din søster homoseksuelle!” Der var ingen, der forstod mig. Jeg boede på gaden i halvandet år. Det var skræmmende, og det var første gang, at jeg var hjemløs. Det gik op for mig, at der også var andre mennesker, der levede på denne her måde. Hjemløshed var blevet mit liv. Og det er det stadigvæk.”
“My mom kicked me out when she found out that I was gay. I always knew that I was differ- ent. My earliest memory of being different, was when I was 8 years old. I didn’t like girls the way, that the boys did. I liked being around my own kind. My family tried to ignore it. I tried to commit suicide when I was 14 years old. I tried to do it at home, in the bathroom. I was in the hot tub, full of water. When I told her, why I had tried to kill myself, she said: “You’re an abomination. You need to leave before you make your brother and sister gay!” I felt that no one understood me. I stayed on the street for a year and a half. It was scary. It was my first time being homeless. It opened up my eyes, to how other people might be living. Homeless- ness had become my life - and it still is. ”
The downside of the higher levels of social acceptance toward homosexuality: The young homosexuals and transexuals 'come-out' to their parents and peers earlier than ever before - and end up on the street: homeless.
The number of homeless individuals on the streets of New York City has nearly doubled over the past decade. From 30.000 in 2002 to more than 50.000 homeless individuals on any given night in New York City today.
One of the growing trends that stand out, is the rise in homelessness amongst the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. As LGBT youths come out earlier than ever before (the average is 17 years old), and the social acceptance towards the LGBT population is on the rise, more and more of them are facing parental rejection.
Some of them are staying in a shelter on the West side of Manhattan: Sylvia's Place. They talk of abuse and rejection by their families, leaving them with the option of trying to find a temporary bed in some of New York City's shelters. Sylvia's Place is dedicated to LGBT Youth from 18-24 years old. They have 14 beds available.
Stephen, 19, from Long Island, has been homeless since he was kicked out by his father after coming-out to him in april of 2013: "I sat at T.G.I. Fridays with my dad. And I just said it in the middle of dinner. I wasn't going to say it, but I did: "Dad, there's something I need to tell you: "I'm gay." "My dad just sat there, and put his hands on his head, then he walked out. He didn't talk to me. He emailed me later, and wrote me that he wasn't paying for college anymore. "You're not allowed to come home," it said. "I walked from Westbury, Long Island to Manhattan that night (25 miles)," Stephen says.
Shelters in New York City dedicated to LGBT youth, report that they are seeing a steep increase in clients who identify as LGBT. Many of them have fled parental abuse, or have simply been rejected by their parents after 'coming-out' to them, thus reverberating the findings of research done by the Williams Institute at UCLA.
Statistically, LGBT youth make up no more than 10% of the homeless population segment, yet they might account for a total of 40 percent of homeless youth.
According to Professor Gary J. Gates, UCLA, stability is a big predictor in a persons life: 'It's hard to know the degree to which they are affected, but homelessness can be considered as the ultimate level of disruption in life,' he says. 'And it is associated with a marked disadvantage on many levels: disruptions in education, difficulty finding employment, and financial hardship.' But in reality, we don't know very much about the changes that are occurring at the moment. The research simply hasn't been done to go beyond asserting, that it i obvious that the trends we are seeing are based on some level of reality," Gates says.