This evening at 6:30PM, numerous prominent LGBT and progressive leaders and organizations will come together at a highly anticipated rally at Union Square in support of the LGBT Homeless Youth community. Comedian, singer, actress, authorSandra Bernhard will speak along with Iraq Combat Veteran and gay rights activist Dan Choi, as well as youth representatives from various organizations serving young LGBT people. This momentous rally occurs less than one week after the Ali Forney Center, the nation’s largest organization dedicated to homeless LGBT youth, had one of their shelters defaced by vandalism including the words “We don’t want gay people here” graffitied on the shelter wall.
As LGBT youth find the courage to come out of the closet at younger ages, thousands are being rejected by their families and forced out of their homes. Most homeless LGBT youth describe having suffered violence and harassment in their homes due to their sexual orientations and gender identities. As many as 40% of the homeless youth in the United States are LGBT. Homeless LGBT youth are subjected to violence and harassment on the streets and in mainstream youth shelters. They face tremendous risk of HIV infection, drug addiction, and criminalization.
This phenomenon of thousands of LGBT youth being forced from their homes due to homophobia, stripped of economic support, and made to endure homelessness represents the most terrible cruelty and intolerance currently directed at the LGBT community. “Any community has an obligation to protect its youth when they are being hurt and attacked,” says Carl Siciliano, Executive Director of Ali Forney Center, the nation’s largest organization dedicated to homeless LGBT youth. “We call on the LGBT Community to stand up for our youth suffering on the streets, and advocate that they receive the protection and care that all young people need and deserve.”
We call on the members of the LGBT Community, our straight allies, and on all decent people who believe that youths should not be thrown to the streets for being LGBT, to rally in support of the following goals:
*To show solidarity with homeless LGBT youth, to demonstrate outrage that so many young members of our community face family rejection, violence, and homelessness, and to call on the adult members of the LGBT and allied community to demonstrate increased concern, support and advocacy for our youth.
*To advocate that local, state, and federal government funding be made available to provide the housing and supportive services needed by homeless LGBT youth so they can escape the streets, and that efforts be funded to prevent LGBT youth from being subjected to violence and rejection in their homes.
* To advocate that protecting our youth from abuse, rejection, and homelessness be recognized as a major priority in our local and national LGBT advocacy agendas.
The rally is endorsed by many significant local and national community organizations, including: Ali Forney Center, Anyone But Me, Broadway Impact, Broadway Speaks Out, Bronx Community Pride Center, The Brooklyn Community Pride Center, Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, Center for American Progress, The Center for Anti-violence Education, Chris Ryan NYC, CitizeNYC, Ramon Johnson, Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, Covenant House New York, Cyndi Lauper‘s True Colors Fund/Give a Damn Campaign, Deconstructive Theatre Project, The Door, Empire State Coalition of Youth and Family Services, FIERCE, Gay & Lesbian Independent Democrats (GLID), Gay Men of African Descent, GLSEN, GMHC, GetEQUAL, Green Chimneys Children’s Services, HetRick Martin Institute, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn, Integrity NYC, The LGBT Community Center, Make The Road New York, Manhattan Young Democrats, National Youth Advocacy Coalition, New York AIDS Coalition (NYAC), New York City Anti-Violence Project, The NYC Association of Homeless and Street-Involved Youth Organizations, Out Astoria, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays National, Queers for Economic Justice, Safe Space NYC, Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, Take Back Pride, Talkaboutequality.org, True Colors Residence and West End Intergenerational Residence.
Additionally, the rally is endorsed by many prominent community leaders, including: US Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand D-NY, Carl Siciliano, Sandra Bernhard, Lt. Dan Choi, Joe Jervis, Frankie Grande(Mr. Broadway 2007), Brendan Fay, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, NYC Council Member Lewis Fidler, Ryan J. Davis, Ally Sheedy, Cathy Renna, Marti Thomas (Mr. Broadway 2008), Reverend Irene Monroe, Peter Staley, David Mixner, Yetta Kurland, NYS Assemblymember Micah Kellner, U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-08), David Badash, Anthony Hallock (Mr. Broadway 2009), Kai Wright, Rod McCullom, Sassafras Lowrey (Editor of “Kicked Out), NYS Senator Tom Duane, NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm, Charlie Williams (current Mr. Broadway), and NYC Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.
For more information, go to: http://www.aliforneycenter.org/events.html#RallyToProtect