12 Days of Christmas; 12 Radical Ways to support LGBTQ2S Youth Experiencing Homeless

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.

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For Men Who Are Also Wolves

For men who are also wolves we blame you for our pain we blame you for our sorrow

You see the world as a commodity

Your thirst for domination kills and terrorizes

I understand you see my pain my existence my body as an object of your gleeful debates

To those men who colonize and sexualize my black body while you neglect your white wife

To those men who lay with my one of my sisters to only later violently seize the last breath from her body when your manhood is questioned

Men. Why do you inflict so much pain upon me? Why do you want to end my life? Starve me of love of desire? Why me?

A woman so undesirable so unloved so lonely I beg you to love me to see me.

You are the most selfish beings I know your desires above all else, the quest and hunger for your pleasure trumps anyone else’s pain, you bring great fear a looming evil but what else is there to expect you are men; you are wolves.

You have taken away my ability to feel

You reinforce and validate every fear I have

You have paralyzed my ability to produce to be creative

We are left disposable, I the most disposable of all women

I turn down the lights to hide my body and insecurities when I lay with you when I kiss you, when I am at my most vulnerable, the dark is your territory but it grants be the security I need to hide myself from you

I hate myself for wanting to please you

I am ashamed of my daily grooming rituals which I do to purposely appease and appeal to you

I loathe that your opinion your desire your input matters

I glow when you call me beautiful I cringe when you call me beautiful because I know beauty is a double edged sword filled with pain and an ever evolving finish line.

For the men who are also wolves I know my life is in your hands

To the violent men who reference me as a man

To the men who find me exclusively worthy of “friendship”

To the perverted men who follow me around the subway station in lust and sexual desire

To the younger but married Brazilian boy whose experiences are far removed from my own

To the blonde haired blue eyed Italian god who was so dreamy in every way imaginable his existence seemed like a distant fleeting fantasy; and that fleeting fantasy became a reality when he understood who I was or rather who he thought I was

To the white trans man who doesn’t understand my black girl attitude or politic

To the gay boys who say they know oppression but allow their eyes to glaze over in infatuation and praise of the plastic doll faced instagram girls of the world to later appropriate those curses of femininity at your leisure

To the man who years ago forcefully spread my legs and took my youth and inexperience as consent even though the words “no, not now” left my lips, only to later discard me as you discarded my humanity

To the smooth skinned deep chocolate black boy with the full lips, twisted hair and the experiences of a young black man in America which aged you into maturity; the man who mesmerizes me with intellectual conversations, who calls to check in on me, who recites my name so smoothly and understands the value of a black woman, why can’t you see me? Why can’t you see my desire for you?

And “H” I haven’t forgotten you, how could I? I know it’s easier to pretend I don’t exist, but I do wonder if you still think about me………….not in a way that’s disrespectful to the woman you love and whom loves you, but does the thought of the way things turned for you and I ever fill you with regret? Do you ever long to hear my voice again? Or am I a distant memory that you pray fades with each passing day. I am I as disposable to you as I am to the rest of the world?

To the young New York Latin boy whose face is painted with my lipstick and makeup as I sit straddling you staring at your face you ask me “what are you thinking? What’s going on in your mind?” I answer “just thinking…..” all the while feeling comfort, contentment, lust, desire and intrigue followed by an overwhelming fear and terror because somewhere inside of him is a wolf

For men who are also wolves………… to be a man is to be a wolf.

For Women Who are ‘difficult’ to love

you are a horse running alone

and he tries to tame you

compares you to an impossible highway

to a burning house

says you are blinding him

that he could never leave you

forget you

want anything but you

you dizzy him, you are unbearable

every woman before or after you

is doused in your name

you fill his mouth

his teeth ache with memory of taste

his body just a long shadow seeking yours

but you are always too intense

frightening in the way you want him

unashamed and sacrificial

he tells you that no man can live up to the one who

lives in your head

and you tried to change didn’t you?

closed your mouth more

tried to be softer

prettier

less volatile, less awake

but even when sleeping you could feel

him travelling away from you in his dreams

so what did you want to do, love

split his head open?

you can’t make homes out of human beings

someone should have already told you that

and if he wants to leave

then let him leave

you are terrifying

and strange and beautiful

something not everyone knows how to love.

_Warsan Shire

Black Girl Magic

I’ve been focusing on my journey of womanhood and the women I see around me. Specifically black women and women of color. Losing myself in books and photographs of those identify with. A celebration of black a celebration of womanhood a celebration of black womaness, black girl magic. I am a difficult being to love I am a queer black woman a moderately attractive one at that with assertion; qualities and identities that aren’t so much of a recipe for beauty.

This year, especially the second half of this year has been heavily focused on reflection and my personal development of what I find to be my most prominent identities. My writing has shifted and become reflective of that. I used fewer words but convey the same points. I think much more than I write and having been using the words, writings, reflections, and activism of of black women to guide me.

New York City 

In my first week of living here I was told New York is like an abusive relationship; “You’ll know something is off by you’re so loyal and attached and there are truly great parts to it. When you finally have had a enough and you get the strength to leave you’re persuaded into staying.” 
Over a year later and those words could not ring more true to me. When I first moved to New York I was missing that feeling that the white women in the movies get when moving to the city. I chopped it up to having already frequented New York as a visitor and that shiny feel big city bright lights polish worn off. I have experienced some of the highest highs and lowest lows in my short time here in New York City. Being in this city has shown me so much I don’t believe I would’ve gotten anywhere else for better or worse. I have grown and continue to grow into this multi dimensional deeply spiritual and thoughtful being. 
What I do know is that this is my home right now in this moment and I love it as equally as I hate it. And I understand I have been brought to this space and time for reason, and that my experiences and existence here is not in vain. And for now I will remain in this abusive relationship.

25 

As I turned 25 this month I realized how much I have changed and continue to change. My circumstances and experiences have led me to this very moment this very presence of my being my and the energy I possess. The past 12 months of my life have been equally challenging and rewarding as I settle into a new city I now call home. The practice of gratitude is one of the challenges i set as a goal to be able to understand absorb and practice this year. The summer of 2017 I came to this pivotal moment that I feel has changed my outlook on the things in everyday life around me. I have truly evolved. I the last twelve months I have found that I speak less but my words mean more, the energy that raidiates from me has shifted and I feel more at peace in chaos. 
I spend much of my time constantly trying to find a a way to recenter myself to narrow in focus and understand the universe is preparing me fir the things I asked for in life. Understanding that the amount of control I possess in this world is small but one of the most powerful things I do control is my energy. I struggled with that for so long because I thought controlling my energy was about controlling the way I reacted to things I thought it was about being passive I’ve come to understand changing my energy was about directly changing the way the stress affects my life it was about changing the physical and emotional tolls that life takes on your body. Changing my energy was about me and it wasn’t some magical way of making me more successful or rich but rather changing my attitudes changing conversations I had and engaged in which inherently changed the people around me and by changing those things success wouldn’t inherently follow. 

Changing my energy helped me understand the practice of gratitude. I held on so dearly to the pain I’d experienced and some of the pain I continue to experience and it shielded me from seeing exactly what I had to show gratitude for. And there is so much to be grateful for. As I move into another year of life my hope and wish is to continue to grow in my journey of gratitude.