This is a guide to provide you with 12 possible ways you can support an LGBTQ2S young person experiencing homelessness. In the exciting and blissful glow of this very commercial holiday season it’s important to remember there are still young people living without basic resources and these are 12 small and big ways you can help. It’s also important to keep in mind a number of these things on this list are simply band aids because homelessness is a systemic issue, there’s so much work that needs to be done to truly end homelessness amongst LGBTQ2S identified young people.
Day 1/ December 25th Extend the Invite! If you have a personal relationship with an LGBTQ2S young person consider inviting them over for dinner during the holidays. November through January is a critical time where many people especially LGBTQ2S young people are experiencing loneliness, displacement and sometimes hostile environments. Consider extending that invitation several times throughout the year.
Day 2/ December 26th Advocate! Find organizations like the True Colors Fund who are working on legislation as it relates to youth homelessness and ask how you can get involved. At the very least contact your local representatives and push for legislation that helps those experiencing homelessness.
Day 3/ December 27th Read the poem The Black Unicorn by Audre Lorde while you use this quote, also by Audre Lorde, to guide you to the poem’s meaning, “For women poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of light of within which we can predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language then into idea, then into more tangible action.” It’s important to understand and value the voices of young LGBTQ2S (especially black) people as artists and how the those intersectional experiences have served as their inspiration to create ground breaking and revolutionary art that we all enjoy. Self expression and art is just as necessary and vital as housing and having a home. Art and stimulating the brain is important for mental health.
Day 4/ December 28th Employ! Hire LGBTQ2S homeless people at your company. If you are not in a position to hire, talk to Human Resources about possible internships, full time and part time positions currently or soon to be available. Gainful employment is a vital part of self-sustainability.
Day 5/ December 29th Use Those Pronouns! For 12 days every time you introduce yourself to a new person introduce yourself with your name and pronouns. Kind of awkward? That same awkwardness is what a great number of LGBTQ2S folks feel every time they’re misgendered or they’re forced to clarify their pronouns. Start by doing this for twelve days and slowly see if you can manage to weave this one task into your life on a regular basis as you meet new people.
Day 6/ December 30th Be Neutral! If you work or use a space that does not have a gender neutral restroom consider having a conversation with management or folks in charge about what having a gender neutral restroom in that space could look like and how it could benefit the community of people in that space.
Day 7/ December 31th Educate yourself; and read “Where Am I Going To Go? Intersectional Approaches to Ending LGBTQ2S Youth Homelessness in Canada & the U.S.” by Alex Abramovich and Jama Shelton. This book will lace you with some of the direct stories, strategies, and actions that can end homelessness.
Day 8/ January 1st Open your Doors! Consider being a “Host Home”, Lighthouse Youth Services and Avenues for Homeless Youth both have Host Home Programs which match LGBTQ2S young adults experiencing housing instability with volunteers that are willing to open their homes and hearts while the young adult works towards self-sustainability. Try finding a similar program locally or even better partner with your community to develop one!
Day 9/ January 2nd Shop Til You Drop! Take an LGBTQ2S young person on a mini shopping spree! You may not have the agency or resources to end their experience with homelessness, but you can definitely affirm their existence and expression! Take them to pick up some of the necessary items they may need or want that allies may often take for granted or overlook. Give them the free reign to pick out the items they need/want.
Day 10/ January 3rd Change it! For many trans and gender non conforming folks their birth name isn’t always reflective of who they see themselves as and a legal name change can affirm their being and boost their confidence, but often this process can be timely and expensive for young LGBTQ2S people with minimal resources. You can offer to do two things 1) walk them through the process and 2) pay for their name change. Walking them through the process means you too have to learn the process of legal name changes, which gives you direct insight into the experience. And paying for the name change allows for that person to be able to save their funds for other immediate needs such as food, shelter, and other resources. How do you get the word out, you say? Post your offer on social media and or tell local service providers about what you would like to do.
Day 11/ January 4th Recognize! LGBTQ2S youth are diverse and may not celebrate popular holidays and traditions, particularly those who are negatively impacted by religious institutions. Be open to understanding and exploring other religious and secular celebrations that differ from your practices.
Day 12/ January 5th Visit The Cis Jungle! In your free time during the holiday season head over to thecisjungle.com, a blog that encapsulates the experiences of young black trans womanhood, by a black trans woman who has experienced homelessness. Look for other blogs and literature by LGBTQ2S young people who have experienced homelessness to broaden your views and understandings of these experiences straight from the source.