Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Rally for Homeless LGBT Youth, Union Square, NYC
As LGBT youth find the courage to come out of the closet at younger ages, thousands are being rejected by their families and forced out of their homes. Most homeless LGBT youth describe having suffered violence and harassment in their homes due to their sexual orientations and gender identities. As many as 40% of the homeless youth in the United States are LGBT. Homeless LGBT youth are subjected to violence and harassment on the streets and in mainstream youth shelters. They face tremendous risk of HIV infection, drug addiction, and criminalization.
On June 14th 2010, hundreds of people including progressive community leaders, organizations and celebrities converged in Union Square Park in a show of support for the issues that homeless LGBT youth face. This phenomenon of thousands of LGBT youth being forced from their homes due to homophobia, stripped of economic support, and made to endure homelessness represents the most terrible cruelty and intolerance currently directed at the LGBT community. "Any community has an obligation to protect its youth when they are being hurt and attacked," says Carl Siciliano, Executive Director of Ali Forney Center, the nation's largest organization dedicated to homeless LGBT youth. "We call on the LGBT Community to stand up for our youth suffering on the streets, and advocate that they receive the protection and care that all young people need and deserve."
This momentous rally took place less than a week after the Ali Forney Center had one of their shelters defaced by vandalism including the words "We don't want gay people here" graffitied on the shelter wall.
Hundreds of passionate participants gathered to rally for these common goals set for by the Ali Forney Center:
*To show solidarity with homeless LGBT youth, to demonstrate outrage that so many young members of our community face family rejection, violence, and homelessness, and to call on the adult members of the LGBT and allied community to demonstrate increased concern, support and advocacy for our youth.
*To advocate that local, state, and federal government funding be made available to provide the housing and supportive services needed by homeless LGBT youth so they can escape the streets, and that efforts be funded to prevent LGBT youth from being subjected to violence and rejection in their homes.
* To advocate that protecting our youth from abuse, rejection, and homelessness be recognized as a major priority in our local and national LGBT advocacy agendas.
Ali Forney Center is doing great work in the LGBT Community. Hat's off to Carl Siciliano for being such a fierce leader for these youth!
To learn more about the Ali Forney Center, visit www.aliforneycenter.org.
Comedian, Actress and Activist Sandra Bernhard.
Youth at the rally.
Carl Siciliano, Executive Director of The Ali Forney Center for LGBT homeless youth. Siciliano has been working with homeless youth in New York City since 1994.
Graphic image of Ali Forney.
Invest in LGBT Youth!
Youth at the rally.
Lt. Dan Choi
Lt. Dan Choi is an American infantry officer in the United States Army who has served in combat in the Iraq war during 2006-2007. He became an LGBT rights activist following his coming out on the The Rachel Maddow Show in March 2009 and has been publicly challenging America's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, which forbids lesbian, bisexual and gay (LBG) service members from serving openly.
UPDATE! On October 19th, 2010 Lt. Dan Choi began his re-enlistment process into the military a day after U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips declared "Don't Ask, Don't Tell un-constitutional. For the first time in the nation's history, openly gay and lesbian men and women can serve in the U.. Military.
NYC Councilman John Liu addressing the crowd.