Cyndi Lauper: We Need To End LGBT Youth Homelessness

Cyndi Lauper pens this essay on LGBT youth homelessness for The Advocate:

It’s an election year and there’s a lot of talk about what our nation’s priorities need to be for the next four to eight years. What we have to make sure is not forgotten is the epidemic of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth homelessness. Up to 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT, yet fewer than 7 percent of kids nationwide are LGBT. That discrepancy is outrageous, and it’s something we can’t ignore. That’s why, on April 27, 2016, we will raise our voices for #40toNoneDay: a national day organized by the True Colors Fund to raise public awareness about LGBT youth homelessness.

While family rejection is the most commonly cited reason for LGBT youth homelessness, it’s just one piece of the puzzle — a very big puzzle. We need to make sure we’re seeing the whole picture.

People often think that because they don’t work at a homeless shelter, they don’t have a role to play. The reality is: everyone can make a difference! Think of it this way: Kids experiencing homelessness come into contact with more than just the good folks working at shelters. They also go to coffee shops and libraries. They ride the bus. They’re on the Internet. You may interact with them on a regular basis without even realizing it. We all need to put our heads together to make sure these young people can get support wherever they go — and be themselves when they get there.

Right now people all across America are making a difference. A 24-hour diner owner in North Carolina is giving kids a place to stay when they have nowhere else to go. A library in Indiana is letting kids without a permanent address use computers to access lifesaving resources. In Minnesota police officers are using an app developed by the community to help kids find shelters with available beds. There are many more possibilities that have yet to be explored. That’s why we need to keep the conversation going.

Youth are our future, but they’re also our present. We need to make these kids our priority now. If we don’t, where will they be in five, 10, 20 years? Where will our country be? Even if we all agree that ending LGBT youth homelessness needs to be a priority, how can we rise above the noise and make our message heard? Our voices are stronger when we say something together. Last year, #40toNoneDay reached more than 17 million people. How many more can we reach this year?

CYNDI LAUPER is a Tony-, Emmy-, and Grammy-winning writer, actor, and musician. She is also the cofounder of the True Colors Fund, which combats LGBT youth homelessness.

Radio Show: Carl Siciliano Of The Ali Forney Center Talks Homeless LGBT Youth

Carl Siciliano, founder/Executive Director of The Ali Forney Center

With the Ali Forney Center‘s funding raising effort continuing in hopes of purchasing the anti-gay ATLAH Church in Harlem, I wanted to share my radio show interview with founder and Executive Director Carl Siciliano.

I’m really proud of this interview from my companion  radio show – The Randy Report on BlogTalkRadio.

Carl Siciliano talks with me about the current #HarlemNoHate Campaign which aims to raise funds to help the Center purchase a church in Harlem to expand it’s services for homeless LGBT youth.

The poetic irony is that the pastor of the church, Rev. James Manning, has spent years spewing vitriolic hate speech towards the LGBT community in Harlem.

Pastor Manning is notorious for signage at the church with messages such as “Jesus would stone homos” and that all supporters of LGBT people should be cursed with cancer, HIV, madness, and eternal damnation.

“The biggest reason our youths are driven from their homes is because of homophobic and transphobic religious beliefs of their parents. If we are able to obtain the space it would truly be a triumph of love over hatred,” says Siciliano.

The church is being put up for auction due to unpaid bills and tax liens on February 24th. The goal of the #HarlemNoHate campaign is to purchase the church and make what was once a place that put religious-based hate on broad display, and turn it into a safe haven for young LGBT.

The Ali Forney Center is the largest and most comprehensive organization in the nation dedicated to housing LGBT youth. AFC serves youth aged 16-24, and provides emergency and transitional housing, street outreach, a drop-in center, medical and mental health treatment, a vocational/educational program, and a counseling project for the families of LGBT youth.

Listen as we talk about the difficulties homeless LGBT youth face and how you can help.

You can donate to the #HarlemNoHate campaign by clicking here.

NYC: Ali Forney Center Raises $200K To Purchase Anti-Gay Harlem Church

Via press release:

Less than two weeks after the ATLAH church, home of virulently anti-LGBT Rev. James David Manning, announced it had been foreclosed and was being put up for auction, the Ali Forney Center launched the #harlemnohate campaign and has raised $200,000 as an initial goal towards buying the building to provide housing for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) homeless youth in Harlem.

“It has been an extraordinary two weeks,” said Carl Siciliano, Executive Director and Founder of the Ali Forney Center. “We have been overwhelmed with support and encouragement and now have the opportunity to turn a place that has promoted hatred and violence into a safe space for LGBT homeless youth,” continued Siciliano.

“Ali Forney, who inspired the founding of the organization, was murdered in Harlem in 1997, only 12 blocks from ATLAH. In 2013 Islan Nettles was beaten to death in Harlem only one mile from ATLAH. Could there be a more just outcome to the ATLAH foreclosure than that the young LGBT people most endangered by the hatred and contempt Manning promotes would take over his building?” said Siciliano.

“AFC’s acquiring the beautiful and historic building that now stands as a symbol of hate would be extraordinary, but the bottom line is this: the Ali Forney Center has 200 youths per night on the waiting list for our beds. As an organization, we have no obligation more urgent than to increase our capacity to provide housing to these vulnerable youth. With the support of the Harlem community, those who have contributed and many others offering to help, we approach the February 24th auction with confidence and hope. Given the real estate market in Harlem we anticipate the bidding will go significantly higher than the $1.02M owed and we are in discussion with potential developers and investors to acquire the building and we anticipate having a partner by the time of the auction. We will continue fundraising through the #HarlemNoHate campaign and make every effort to be in as strong a position as possible to acquire the building,” concluded Siciliano.

To contribute to the campaign, supporters can go to http://harlemnohate.org

Anti-Gay Harlem Church Could Become A Haven For Homeless LGBT Youth

A Harlem church, which has become a symbol of hate and homophobia, may present an opportunity to be repurposed as a haven for homeless LGBT youth.

Via Huffington Post:

A New York state judge has ordered the ATLAH World Missionary Church to be sold at a public foreclosure auction, according to court records cited by DNAinfo New York. The church, which has been known to display messages like “Jesus would stone homos” and “Obama has released the homo demons on the black man” on its billboard, has reportedly amassed debts and tax liens totaling more than $1.02 million.

The Harlem church could prove to be a commodity in Manhattan’s cutthroat real estate market. But the Ali Forney Center, an advocacy group dedicated to homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) teens and young adults, hopes that an online fundraiser will help raise $200,000 to secure the property as housing for its clients.

Carl Siciliano, who is the Ali Forney Center’s founder and executive director, said in a press release that repurposing the church to house homeless LGBT youth would “truly be a triumph of love over hatred.”

“The biggest reason our youths are driven from their homes is because of homophobic and transphobic religious beliefs of their parents,” he said. “Because of this, it has been horrifying for us to have our youths exposed to Manning’s messages inciting hatred and violence against our community. It has meant the world to us that so many Harlem residents have stood up to support our young people, and are now urging us to provide urgently needed care at the site of so much hatred.”

LGBT rights activist Scott Wooledge, who is working with the Ali Forney Center to raise the funds to buy the church and has raised over $200,000 for homeless youth over the past two years, echoed those sentiments.

“We, as a community, have a golden, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to turn what was once a center of appalling hate into a home where our youth can be safe, nurtured, supported and thrive into self-sufficient adults,” he told The Huffington Post in an email. “Let’s seize the day, and turn the page on an ugly chapter in Harlem’s history.”

Siciliano has announced that should the Ali Forney Center not able to obtain the building, any funds raised will be utilized to increase its housing and vocational services for homeless LGBT youth in another site.

This is a wonderful chance to do something really beautiful. Please consider donating here.

You can follow the fundraising goals here.

Boston: Brothers Cite Donald Trump As Inspiration After Beating Hispanic Man

Scott (L) and Steve Leader (R)

Two brothers from South Boston, Steve and Scott Leader, have been arrested after allegedly targeting, attacking, beating and ultimately urinating on a homeless man because he is Hispanic.

From the Boston Globe:

Police said two brothers from South Boston ambushed the 58-year-old as he slept outside of a Dorchester MBTA stop, and targeted him because he is Hispanic. One of the brothers said he was inspired in part by GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.

The allegations ignited widespread condemnation Wednesday.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh said the brothers “should be ashamed of themselves.” Boston’s top prosecutor, Daniel F. Conley, called the case “sickening.”

Police Commissioner William B. Evans, a South Boston resident, said the brothers had given his neighborhood “a bad name.” He called it “a disgrace.”

Trump, told of the alleged assault, said “it would be a shame . . . I will say that people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate.”

Trump, in his campaign kickoff speech in June, made disparaging comments about Mexican immigrants that advocates feared could cause a backlash against immigrants.

According to reports, Scott Leader told the police, “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported.”

And Trump’s reaction? “People who are following me are very passionate???”

Wow.

Think On This…

(graphic via Memeographs)

I want you to think on this:

As thousands of anti-gay folks pour hundreds of THOUSANDS of dollars into a fund to help middle-class pizza restaurant owners in Indiana ‘cope’ with going public with their anti-gay animus:

• Homeless shelters go begging for funds to help those out in the freezing cold.

• Food pantries hope for contributions to help those who are hungry. Every. Single. Day.

• LGBT youth turned out by their families for being who they are search for a safe place to lay their heads for the night.

But folks who can proudly stand and say they wouldn’t accept payment to feed a celebration of love of a same-sex couple are looking at a windfall of over $840,000.

29,000 have donated to help a middle-class family that owns a pizza restaurant.

Where were they for the homeless and hungry?

Tell me again how “Christ-like” they are…

Better yet – show me.

Here’s MY call to action.

LGBT activist Scott Wooledge has launched a campaign to raise funds to help Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Fund, which helps homeless LGBT youth. Can I ask you to hit this link and donate?

Anything. $5. $10. Whatever. It all helps.

And then, one more favor – can you share that link on social media?

Show the world love is stronger than hate.

Fort Lauderdale: Police Cite Clergy and Activists for Feeding The Homeless

Photo: Mike Clary

One of the justifications you hear when public services are cut for the poor is, “That’s what the churches are for.”

Well, now, it’s against the law for even clergy to help the homeless in Fort Lauderdale.

Two members of the clergy and a 90 year old homeless advocate were cited with violating a new city ordinance which makes it a crime to feed the homeless:

Arnold Abbott, who heads the group Love Thy Neighbor, said he had served only three or four of about 300 meals he had prepared when police ordered him to stop.

Abbott, the Rev. Mark Sims, of St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in Coral Springs, and the Rev. Dwayne Black, pastor of The Sanctuary Church in Fort Lauderdale, were each cited for willfully violating a city ordinance. Police issued them notices to appear in court, where they could be asked to explain their actions.

The ordinance, approved by the city commission Oct. 22, is one of several recent efforts by officials to crack down on the city’s burgeoning downtown homeless population.

The latest law, which took effect Friday, limits where outdoor feeding sites can be located, requires the permission of property owners and says the groups have to provide portable toilets.

Abbott, who has won past legal battles with the city over feeding restrictions, has vowed to go to court again.

“We are simply trying to feed people who are hungry,” said Sims. “To criminalize that is contrary to everything that I stand for as a priest and as a person of faith.”

Read more at the Sun-Sentinel.