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Casa 1 opened Jan. 25 in Downtown São Paulo with a singular mission: to provide a safe place for LGBTQ youth kicked out of their homes by family members.
The Casa 1 story began when journalist Iran Giusti hosted a friend at his place for a while. Two months later, the friend emailed Giusti, telling him that the time he’d spent in Giusti’s home made him more accepting of his sexuality and gave him a sense of happiness he’d never felt before.
When Giusti got the email, he decided to offer his couch to whomever needed a place to crash. He posted the offer on Facebook, and to his surprise, he received more than 50 messages within the hour.
Giusti realized that there was high demand for a safe space for LGBTQs — and his couch wasn’t going to cut it.
With the help of a few partners, Casa 1, a new center for homeless LGBTQ people, started to become reality. Thanks to crowdfunding, R$112,000 (about $36,000 USD) was raised, which was enough to pay rent on the house for an entire year.
Casa 1 isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, either. The house works with everyone to ensure people get the help they need. Thankfully, Casa 1’s volunteer network can provide help finding those things. “For instance, for people with a junior high education, who didn’t finish high school, we look for adult education programs; for trans girls taking hormones, we reach out to our health director,” says Otávio Salles, Casa 1 coordinator.
Currently Casa 1 is home to eight people, with room to host 16 total.
Besides being a place for LGBTQ people to stay, Casa 1 is also a cultural center, featuring an exhibition hall, a classroom for lectures and workshops and a public library that has been put together through book donations.
If you are interested in Casa 1 and would like to help, volunteers are always needed — as are donations of clothing, food, toiletries and books. If you’re not in São Paulo, donating money may be easier. You can contribute via the Brazilian crowdfunding website Benfeitoria, and you can even set up a monthly contribution. If you donate R$150 (about $50 USD) or more, you’ll receive a piece of art by an LGBTQ artist.
Casa 1 is quickly becoming a landmark for São Paolo’s queer community. Hornet, the world’s premier gay social network, even co-hosted an event at Casa 1 during Carnival.
The center is an open space from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. If you need support — or just a place to hang out in São Paulo — drop by Casa 1. The address is Rua Condessa de São Joaquim, 277, Bela Vista, São Paulo.
(Images via Casa 1)