Eli, døbt Alice er krigsveteran fra Irak. “Jeg har altid vidst, at jeg var anderledes. Jeg var mere til ninja skildpadder og kort hår. Min mor ønskede sig inderligt en pige. Og i mange år forsøgte jeg at være hendes lille pige. Hun gav mig barbiedukker, da jeg var yngre, og jeg kan huske, at jeg rev hovederne af dem. Hun tvang mig til at gå til gymnastik undervisning i lyserød nederdel, da jeg var 14 år. Jeg hadede det.
Under vores sidste skænderi, sprang jeg ud af vinduet fra første sal i vores hus. Jeg kan huske, at hun råbte efter mig: “Jeg håber du brækker benene!” Det var sidste gang, jeg havde noget med hende at gøre.“
Eli, baptised Alice, is an Iraq war veteran. “I’ve always known that I was different. I didn’t want what all the girls wanted. I want- ed what the boys wanted: ninja turtles and short hair cuts. My mother really wanted a lit- tle girl. And for years I tried to be that little girl for her. She tried to give me barbie dolls, when I was younger, and I remember pulling their heads off. My mom forced me to go to gymnastics class in a little pink skirt, when I was 14 years old. I hated it. At the end of our final argument, I jumped out the window of our house. I remember her screaming after me: “I hope you break your legs!” That was the last time, I had anything to do with her.”
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.