Alex Blaze

Gay Mormons plan LGBT youth homelessness demo

Filed By Alex Blaze | September 28, 2010 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Affirmations, ENDA, GetEqual, jobs, LGBT, LGBT homeless, LGBT youth, protest, richard lugar, Salt Lake City, trans, utah

Here's a protest that should be repeated since it draws attention to the most under-discussed problem facing the LGBT community:

Homeless Youth Resource Center.jpgLeaders of Affirmation, a support group for gay and lesbian Mormons, plan to draw attention to the plight of gay homeless youths by spending a night on the streets of San Francisco.

David Melson, George Cole and Micah Bisson, in a news release, say they will spend 20 hours, from Oct. 6-7, living as if they were homeless before Affirmation's annual conference Oct. 8-10.

A disproportionate number of homeless youths, 20 to 40 percent nationally, are LGBT. One survey at a Salt Lake City homeless youth center found that 42 percent of those served identified as something other than straight. About 8 percent of Salt Lake City's population is LGBT.

The Affirmation officers plan to ditch their cell phones, wallets and drivers licenses. They will be left alone in different parts of the city. Journalists have been invited to document the event.

The only GetEqual protest I know of that was about LGBT youth homelessness involved pressuring Dick Lugar on ENDA, because a 14-year-old trans girl whose parents kicked her out should stop whining for a hand-out and just get a job.

It's not as sexy as big-ticket federal legislation, but getting resources for LGBT homeless youth would go a long way to increase the quality of life of our population.

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The folk doing this have a warm bed to go back to at the end of their self important mission. There is so much more to being a trans or queer young person who is homeless than not having a credit card or cell phone.

There are so, so many youth with stories to tell. Why not put the spotlight on them and take this media opportunity to tell the REAL LIFE stories of youth and adults who are/have been homeless.

Of course, I am making the assumption that none of the participants of this poorly thought out "protest" are currently, or have been, homeless. If they are/have been they would know that this privileged attempt at visibility is just exploitative.

Or maybe they just don't agree with your perspective. It's interesting that you mention the youth telling their own stories in one breath and then say that they don't need to speak for themselves, that they all agree with you in the next.

Their stories and voices are important, and I agree that this demo isn't going to be earth-shaking. But at least they acknowledge that it is an issue, which is a whole lot more than can be said about mainstream LGBT activism.

Plus they haven't even done it yet and they got the Salt Lake City Tribune to write statistics about the problem. That's already a small victory.

It still won't be the same. They get to go home at the end of 20 hours. Let's see them go for a week - then they might have a wee bit of understanding. 20 hours can be a regular but long day - they won't even have to go to sleep.

Um, they're not actually going homeless. The point is to get the media to cover the problem, not to actually be homeless.

And a week would get more attention, I agree. Maybe this is something you could organize in DC? The same problem exists around the country.

Wanting the right to work free of discrimination is sexy, Alex? Really? I'd argue that not having that right is a major cause of homelessness. Some people are homeless because they choose to be, but most are because they can't afford to pay the rent. The fact that far more LGBT's are homeless than the national average should tell you the obvious: When the law allows an employer to fire or refuse to hire someone just because they're LGBT you're going to find a lot more LGBTs without work.

Sure this is a great cause, but if you really think we're talking about two different issues and not what it actually is, cause and effect, I think you're kidding yourself.

Actually, the linked protest wasn't about LGBT homelessness generally - it was about youth homelessness specifically. And a teen who is homeless needs a place to stay, food, and school, not a job. Telling them to get work when they don't even have a home, to get a job and forget about finishing high school is doing them a disservice in my book.

And, yes, agitating for federal legislation gets a lot more attention than working on city/state/federal governments for resources for the impoverished. Maybe it's unfair to describe it as more "sexy," but is there another word for the fact that we're at least able to discuss ENDA and almost no one wants to address the fact that there aren't enough resources for LGBT homeless youth?

Or gee, perhaps if the Mormons stopped villifying LBGT folks, then fewer teens would get kicked out of their homes in the first place. That approach might reduce the number of homeless kids more than this stunt...

I'm guessing these Mormons don't give to antigay campaigns.