Last week, the internet was introduced to Daniel Ashley Pierce, a young man who was disowned by his family for being gay. While Pierce received a great deal of attention (and financial support) due to the horrifying video he posted of his family's reaction, many wondered what is happening to other homeless LGBT youth who, like Pierce, have been disowned.
In a heart wrenching article in Rolling Stone, Alex Morris details what happens to teens like Pierce who lose the financial and emotional support of their families. Teens like Jackie, who was disowned by her family (and told never to contact them again) after she became the first woman to come out at her sorority. She told them, according to RS, because she didn't want them to find out any other way. She hoped that their love was unconditional.
"Oh, my God, you're pregnant" was her mom's first response, before running through a litany of parental fears. "Are you in jail? Did you get expelled? Are you in trouble? What happened? What did you do?" Suddenly her mom's silence matched Jackie's own. "Oh, my God," she murmured in disbelief. "Are you gay?"
"Yeah," Jackie forced herself to say.
After what felt like an eternity, her mom finally responded. "I don't know what we could have done for God to have given us a fag as a child," she said before hanging up.
Jackie lost everything: her family, financial support, a place to stay. And while her story is painful, it's also a reality that far too many LGBT teens are facing. According to the latest statistics, LGBT youth make up more than 40 percent of the population of homeless youth. The Center for American Progress, according to RS reports that there are between 320,000 and 400,000 homeless LGBT youths living in America. And with the average coming out age dropping to 16 (due to less stigma as well as social networking), this means that many teens are coming out while their parents are still taking care of them financially. And some highly religious parents don't seem to care that their children are still in their charge, they, like Jackie's parents, just want "the fags" out.
While stories like Jackie's are important, the takeaway from the RS article is exactly how difficult it is to survive on the streets as both a homeless and an LGBT youth. When resources are low and there are hundreds of people competing for twenty beds in a shelter. For many of these teens, being disowned isn't the end of a journey of pain, it's only the beginning.
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