For my birthday this year, in lieu of having a birthday party, my friends and I are going to put together care packages filled with daily essentials like tooth brush, tooth paste, feminine care products, socks etc. and deliver them directly to LGBTQ youth currently living on the street.
Donations from this fundraiser will also be used to provide emergency housing for as many LGBTQ homeless youth as possible. I will be working closely with a few extended stay motels as well tiny house developers in the greater Los Angeles area to maximize the impact of this campaign.
Homelessness is the biggest social crisis in Southern California today. Among nearly 9,000 young people under the age of 24 experiencing homelessness, a staggering 40 percent identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning, according to the Los Angeles LGBT Center. More than half of all homeless LGBTQ people end up on the streets before they are old enough to vote and about a quarter before even turning 16. It’s estimated that LGBT youth represent about 7 percent of the population, which puts that 40 percent figure into heartbreaking context.
Other statistics are equally bleak: 46 percent of homeless LGBT youths ran away because of family rejection of their sexual orientation or gender identity; 43% were forced out by parents, and 32% faced physical, emotional or sexual abuse at home.
The consequences of homelessness, particularly for LGBTQ youth, are far reaching and can last a lifetime. Homelessness is harmful to mental and physical health, and youth who are homeless are at an increased risk for sexual abuse and exploitation, chemical and alcohol dependency, social stigma and discrimination. These youth also experience lower levels of long-term educational attainment—placing them at an even greater disadvantage when they enter the job market. Growing up without the critical family and social safety nets so many young people rely on results in catastrophic consequences for economic stability, educational attainment and life expectancy.
Little support exists at the federal level to provide funding for programs that improve family relationships and reduce homelessness among LGBTQ youth. As a result, homeless youth, particularly LGBTQ youth, continue to face severe obstacles in their emotional and professional development.
No amount of donation is too small as every single dollar and social share counts. If you're an LA resident, your donation also gives you access to my private block party this summer. Please message me if you’d like to attend or get involved.
Thank you for opening your heart to this cause.
With love & gratitude,
Graphic Art: Kazimir Lee