I haven’t regularly spent the holidays with the family I was born into since 2006. We live over 2,000 miles and (on average) $700 in plane tickets apart from one another. However, I’ve managed to enjoy laughs, good food and good energy with the family I’ve created during my adulthood. We make sure that every year we’re not alone, and that we all have a good hot meal and brown liquor because…well, you know. I’m fortunate to have them in my life, as well as the roof over my head and the opportunities afforded to me during the holiday season. Sadly, this is not the case for all of our LGBT brothers and sisters.
Many of our LGBT counterparts are struggling with being what an article on HuffPo has dubbed “homeless for the holidays.” The article points out that many queer youths are finding and discovering themselves at much younger ages and are essentially excommunicated from their families. As a result, they’re on the streets to not only search for food and warmth, but also guidance and direction. According to the same article, “LGBT youth make up 40 percent of the homeless youth population, accounting for 1,600 of NYC’s 3,800 homeless youth.” As bone chilling as that may be, statistics like those never seem to have a greater sense of verisimilitude. Statistics also don’t describe the anguish, the hurt, and the powerful stories from first-hand accounts. The Ali Forney Center has developed a new campaign to bring awareness and these are some of their stories.
The Ali Forney Center has done an amazing job of bringing these stories to the forefront to raise awareness and hopefully soften our hearts. During the holiday season, it’s so easy to get caught up in buying and receiving gifts, exchanging, etc., and it can turn into a really selfish time of year if we allow it to. Watching and hearing these stories not only saddened me, but also gave me a sense of pride. Obviously, the stories are sad; we have ignorance in the community and families that lead us to disown and reject family members for being whom and what they were born to be. However, we minority members of the LGBT community are a great, grand, awesome and resilient people. We never let anything get in our way of truth, light and righteousness. As much as you know I really don’t care for Iyanla Vanzant, you can see in these video vignettes that our people were “broke, but not broken.” They had experienced heartache, rejection, bouts of depression, and so many other elements that would make a movie on Lifetime one for the ages. Yet, they found strength and hope to not only turn their lives around, but to use their personal narratives as an agent of change. For that, I am awe-inspired.
I ask during this holiday season that we all take some time to remember all of the fallen activists who worked diligently for the rights and health of our LGBT brothers and sisters. And for those who may not be religious, just know that hope is the reason for the season.