I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that this fall I had the opportunity to partner with The Center For American Progress. They are a brilliant research institute in DC that have given us some of the best and most nuanced statistical understanding of LGBTQ youth homelessness as an epidemic in this country. This month CAP released a new report “Seeking Shelter The Experiences and Unmet Needs of LGBT Homeless Youth” and I was honored when I was contacted by the writers and asked if I would be willing to contribute to it from a personal perspective.
I immediately said yes and then had to give some thought to what I wanted to say. They wanted me to tell my story of having been kicked out and what it was like to be a teenager. I wanted my contribution to this report to take things a step further, to not just talk about what it was like to be kicked out, but to give voice to the ways in which as queer homeless youth we built our own families, grow each other up, save each other in ways that no one else could.
“I rode busses for two hours to get to the city of Portland. I held my breath and walked into the queer youth center for the first time. It was all concrete, spray paint, bike parts, glitter, and BO, but for the first time I knew that I wasn’t alone. I learned the beginnings of trust from other kids who had lost everything. We swore allegiances to one another, built families in the back rooms of that youth center, in parks, under bridges, in punk houses. We kept the promises we made. We grew each other up, saving one another in ways no adults, no social workers or agencies ever could.”
I take every writing opportunity I’m given seriously, especially ones like this where I’m given the chance to speak to a group of readers who might not otherwise come across a story being told not from the perspective of a researcher, but from actually having lived this experience, and I’m so grateful that COP prioritized the inclusion of current/former homeless LGBTQ youth within this new report.
The Center For American Progress released their report at an event in DC last Thursday and I was shocked and honored when I turned on the live video streaming to hear the event open with my words being read aloud. “Listen when we tell you our stories”
You can learn more about the report and for free download a full PDF, which includes my story here