Homeless LGBTQ youth raise awareness about their struggles. Image from Instinct Magazine.
While the momentum of the marriage equality movement deserves celebration this Pride Month, it’s important to recognize that there’s still a lot of work to do to achieve equity for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community. As many as 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, and oftentimes they end up trapped in a cycle of abuse, poverty, and street life that lasts well into adulthood. Guest blogger Sarah Bartlett illuminates some of the struggles with poverty and homelessness that many members of the LGBTQ community experience.
The DVD art from “My So-Called Life.” Photo from IMDB.
Looking to supplement your usual go-to holiday movies with something different this year? Catherine Hinrichsen from Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness takes us back to the mid 90's and her favorite Christmas episode of any show ever: the "So-Called Angels” episode of “My So-Called Life.” This powerful episode takes us on a journey contrasting a middle-class family’s Christmas splendor with the harsh life of teens living in homelessness. And as Catherine discovers, the fictional story actually mirrors the real life story of a key actor, making the message even more poignant.
Today the YWCA’s Stand Against Racism annual event brings together hundreds of thousands of people across the nation, from all walks of life, to call attention to the legacy of discrimination and raise awareness that racism still exists. In the four days leading up to the Stand Against Racism, we examined how discrimination and institutional racism can block violence survivors from accessing housing services and other resources. We've compiled the series for you here, co-authored by YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish's GirlsFirst and Volunteer Services Coordinator Nanyonjo Mukungu, and YWCA Walla Walla's Communications Coordinator Sara Rasmussen, who became friends while students at Whitman College. Will you take a stand alongside Nanyonjo and Sara? Reading their blog posts is one important way to grow awareness and sharing one or more posts with others is a great way to continue to build that awareness.
In our final Stand Against Racism post, Nanyonjo, our YWCA Seattle I King I Snohomish Americorps volunteer, reflects on her own healing process as a survivor of sexual violence. She found support in her community of friends and two organizations that gave her the tools to understand the importance of personal and community accountability. In Nanyonjo's words, "It is a continuous process to be an ally to a survivor, not an end goal. In order for the process of justice to begin, we must examine the way our own communities further rape culture, victim blaming, and the silencing of survivors." Unfortunately not all survivors of violence receive the same support which too often leads to instability and homelessness. Nan calls us to examine how systems of privilege and oppression shape our everyday lives and work towards a world without domestic and sexual violence.
Friends of YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish march at the 2012 Pride Parade, showing their support for and solidarity with the LGBTQ members of the YWCA community. Read more about the “many faces of pride” in our "Participating & Proud” blog series.
With its expansion and renewal earlier this year, the Violence Against Women Act made an important step in ensuring that its protections and services fully include and extend to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. But changes in the law won't instantly end discrimination against LGBTQ community members and create access to services they need. As YWCA Walla Walla Communications Coordinator Sara Rasmussen points out in this third installment of our Stand Against Racism blog series, we need to continue to shift the cultures of law enforcement, service providers and shelters, amongst staff as well as those they serve, in order to protect and better meet the needs of the LGBTQ community.
When YWCA staff approached me asking if Firesteel could help raise awareness of their participation in the 38th Annual Pride Parade in Seattle, I said, "Sure! How can we connect this to housing and homelessness?" One Family Advocate, Nora, stepped forward and offered to write not one, but 5 blog posts related to housing challenges facing the LGBTQ community and the importance of YWCA participation in the Pride Parade. Thank you Nora! Because of her thoughtful writing and time, we have the following blog posts, compiled here for easy reference.
There was sun on Sunday for the Pride Parade in Seattle! We wrap up our series, "Participating & Proud," with Nora Johnson, a Family Advocate at the YWCA I Seattle I King I Snohomish Family Village in Mountlake Terrace, sharing her experience at the parade. With so many members of the LGBTQ community experiencing housing discrimination, Firesteel and the YWCA stand with our LGBTQ clients, staff, volunteers, board members and supporters and affirm the dignity and worth of every human being.
In the week leading up to the Pride Parade in Seattle, we continue our series, "Participating & Proud." YWCA Seattle I King I Snohomish staff and volunteers are participating in the parade this upcoming Sunday and we will take you through many of the reaons why it is important to do so. Nora Johnson, a Family Advocate at the YWCA I Seattle I King I Snohomish Family Village in Mountlake Terrace, takes us through the meaning of the "T" in the acronym "LGBTQ" and how programs can provide needed services for this community.
In the week leading up to the Pride Parade in Seattle, we continue our series, "Participating & Proud." YWCA Seattle I King I Snohomish staff and volunteers are participating in the parade this upcoming Sunday and we will take you through many of the reaons why it is important to do so. Nora Johnson, a Family Advocate at the YWCA I Seattle I King I Snohomish Family Village in Mountlake Terrace, highlights some of the federal housing policy changes to address the needs of LGBTQ communities.
In the week leading up to the Pride Parade in Seattle, we continue our series, "Participating & Proud." YWCA Seattle I King I Snohomish staff and volunteers are participating in the parade this upcoming Sunday and we will take you through many of the reaons why it is important to do so. In this post, Nora Johnson, a Family Advocate at the YWCA I Seattle I King I Snohomish Family Village in Mountlake Terrace, explores some alarming numbers concerning LGBTQ homeless youth. You'll also find some amazing resources and available services specifically for LGBTQ youth, who are some of the most vulnerable in our community.
It’s Gay Pride Week in Seattle, and YWCA I Seattle I King I Snohomish staff and volunteers are proud to be participating in the parade this upcoming Sunday. It is also a perfect time to introduce the Firesteel community to the work of Sexual Orientation/ Gender Identity (SO/GI) Committee here at our YWCA. Nora Johnson, a Family Advocate at the Family Village in Mountlake Terrace, is a member of the SO/GI committee and will take us through our next series named, "Participating & Proud." Why is there a need for a Sexual Orientation/ Gender Identity Committee at the YWCA? Why are staff and volunteers participating in the Pride Parade? How does any of this connect to housing and homelessnes? We're covering all that and more!