One of the reasons I and many others were so upset by Ann Coulter’s tasteless comments last week in which she mocked the family rejection of LGBT people is because often, when LGBT teens are rejected by their families, they end up homeless.
Far from being funny, youth homelessness is a serious problem in the LGBT community: 20 percent of homeless youth — 1 out of every 5 — identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. But it’s also a problem that’s frequently invisible, as today’s video of the day shows.
It’s called Invisible: Diaries of New York’s Homeless Youth, and it’s a 24-minute, Emmy-nominated documentary co-produced by reporter Chris Glorioso in partnership with seven homeless youth enrolled in programs at the Reciprocity Foundation. The documentary follows five youth, each of whom reveals a different side of homelessness: Lyssette (left) became homeless after fleeing sexual abuse in her home, Dorian was orphaned after his mother died of AIDS, Aaron was incarcerated, Selassie’s mother kicked him out after her boyfriend attacked him, and Eleet became homeless when she began to present as female. Viewers learn some of the challenges they face in their daily lives as they struggle to break out of the cycle of poverty and follow their dreams.
I know this video is longer than most of my other selections have been, but trust me — it’s worth taking the time to watch. It opened my eyes to just how pervasive youth homelessness really is, some of the reasons it can be so difficult to spot, and why it’s so important for agencies and programs that work with homeless populations to meet each person as a whole person, complete with gifts, talents, dreams, and aspirations. It also dispels many of the most common misconceptions about homelessness. Watch it below:
To find out more about the Reciprocity Foundation, which specializes in supporting LGBT youth and youth of color and helps them move out of the shelter system, cope with stress, heal from trauma, build their résumés, acquire professional contacts, and enroll in college, click here.
Full disclosure: Lyssette, one of the film’s youth co-producers and co-writers, is a friend of mine. She spent two years homeless and is now making a career in television production. Lyssette is part of the team at In the Life Media.