Last Monday, there was a rally for homeless queer youth organized by the Ali Forney Center and other queer organizations, that was partly in response to a hate crime in Queens. Here's the promo Queers United ran:
A rally to protect and advocate on behalf of homeless LGBT youth will occur tonight in Manhattan. This rally is in response to the recent hate crime against the Ali Forney LGBT homeless youth shelter. There are too many issues LGBT youth who are homeless go through to be ignored and while the the NYC Commission on LGBTQ Runaway and Homeless Youth came out with a report of suggestions, action needs to follow for implementation of change.
Monday June 14th, 6:30PM, Union Square
(Special guest-speakers Sandra Bernhard and Lt. Dan Choi)
Our execrable Mayor Bloomberg created the commission while at the same time planning to cut $6 million of city funding for homeless youth. He loves to pretend to be pro lgbt while stabbing us in the back when it counts. Some of us are not fooled by his bullshit.
The hate crime that triggered this particular rally was described by Kicked Out Anthology:
I am shocked and angered by the vandalism that occurred at the Ali Forney Center’s NYC shelter in Queens. Yesterday morning youth living at the shelter woke up to find the words “”We don’t want gay people here” scrawled on the walls, and “gay shelter” on the door of a place that is intended to provide them safety and security. Take a moment and think about what that must have felt like “we don’t want gay people here” the majority of homeless LGBTQ youth have left home because of their parents and guardian’s reaction to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, how bitingly cruel to wake to find those same words on the door of a place offering them sanctuary.
Sandra Bernhard was good, but Lt. Dan Choi was amazing. He is the most passionate and moving queer speaker since Harvey Milk. Like Milk, he sees queer issues in a broader social justice context. If Choi ever starts working on coalition building like Milk did, Choi could be the kind of queer leader our movement desperately needs.
However, the most important speakers were the queer youth themselves. Putting human faces on a social ill, homelessness, that our society prefers to ignore is terribly important.
The speaker from Fierce made some excellent points about how youth homelessness disproportionately effects the queer community. She said that over 40% of homeless youth in NYC acknowledge being LGBT. Many more are understandably reluctant to say who and what they are to strangers trying to gather statistics.
Some queer youth run away from homophobic parents, but most of the queer youth who are homeless are kicked out by their parents. There are far fewer beds here in NYC than there are queer youth who need them. However, things are better here than in most of the country. Most places have zero beds for LGBT youth.
Some of the things speakers at the rally called for include:
- A queer nondiscrimination policy for all federally funded youth shelters.
- An end to Mayor Bloomberg's efforts to cut funding for homeless youth.
- Making youth issues a priority for the LGBT community.
- The creation of a queer youth center at the pier in the West Village.
Some elected officials showed for the event, including City Controller John Liu. Conspicuous by her absence was openly lesbian City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. I guess she has been too busy with her hateful crusade to "honor" Mother Teresa, the homophobic bigot who denied visits from same sex lovers in AIDS hospices, avoided providing pain medication to all patients, used highly questionable medical practices, and lavished praise on Savings and Loan crook Charles Keating even after he got caught. Considering how much Quinn panders to our viciously homophobic and horribly corrupt Mayor Bloomberg, serious questions about Quinn's loyalty to the queer community need to be raised.