So, marriage equality is a thing now, and has been for a couple months. Perhaps you think now you’ve got what you need, everything’s good in your world and the game’s over. If this is you, you’re wrong about that.
The list of ways in which life is very difficult for a huge number of LGBTQ Americans is still a long one. Employment and housing discrimination. Violence. Poverty. Gay “conversion therapy”. Continued and pointed discrimination against LGBT people of color. Undocumented trans people facing deportation. Lack of access to healthcare and education.
Think none of this matters to you? It does. Your life is connected to everyone else’s. The LGBT movement still needs you.
So here’s a place to start: The kids.
Estimates are that 20 to 40 percent of all homeless youth are LGBT, a disproportionate number when you consider the entire LGBT population to be less than 10 percent of the country. These young people are at an increased risk for exploitation, violence and hunger. Trans kids face even more harrowing circumstances, when some shelters actively shut them out. LGBT homeless youth face the most primary of challenges: Survival.
Here’s what you can do about that, right now:
1. Look up your local LGBT center, if you have one near you. If not, find the nearest one in the next largest city.To get you started, here are links to centers in New York and Los Angeles. Chances are, some kid from your town just ran away to that city or was forced out by unsupportive family members.
2. Don’t assume you already know what this service needs. If it’s not spelled out on their website, call them and ask. They want to hear from you.
3. Donate. It might be money. It might be new clothes. It might be hours of your time as a volunteer. It might simply be advocacy for local services on a city level. You might have a skill the service needs. You might be able to help young people in search of employment or educational access. You have something to offer, no matter how small it may seem.
We’re all in this together.