Welcome at Home
by Dan Gregory, Strategic Communications Manager
I had many fears about coming out. Losing my home wasn’t one of them.
As a gay cisgender man who has been proudly “out” about my sexuality for nearly a decade, I can affirm the beauty that comes with being one’s authentic self as I move through the world. Friendships, my ministry within my faith community, and my relationship with my sisters and parents all had to grow and change when I came out, but each one has been for the better. I am grateful that the circles which mean the most to me have been loving and affirming.
Society isn’t always as accepting.
The disgusted sideways glances when I hold a partner’s hand while we’re out on a walk. The homophobic joke someone makes when they don’t know there’s a gay man standing in their presence. The menacing tone when a politician warns about “the gay agenda” (whatever the heck THAT is – no one has clued me in yet on our supposed sinister plot!). And I recognize that all of this is amplified when someone is Black, Latinx, transgender, non-binary, or gender non-conforming.
Coming out is rarely easy or simple for anyone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or any number of the beautiful arrays of human sexuality, gender, or expression (this is often summarized by simply saying “LGBTQ+”). There are always hardships and adjustments. But for far too many youth, suddenly finding themselves without a home is among the most direct and painful ramifications.
It is estimated that at least 10 percent of Americans under the age of 18 identify as LGBTQ+. Yet they make up a staggering 40 percent of youth experiencing homelessness. It is sickening that those who are among the most vulnerable to societal abuse would also have to face homelessness. It’s a whole new dimension of trauma.
Most find themselves in this position because their home life doesn’t allow them to be their authentic selves. Staying in a house where physical violence, abusive so-called “conversion therapy,” or emotional castigation are present isn’t an option. And sometimes the choice to stay isn’t theirs: caregivers often kick these youth out when they come out.
Wrestling with your place in the world is always hard. Struggling to find a place to be safe and comfortable shouldn’t be an added burden.
Beacon’s 66 West, Nicollet Square, and Prior Crossing apartments all provide stable homes with on-site support services where youth who have experienced homelessness can build a strong foundation. Many of the residents in these buildings identify as LGBTQ+. And here, they can lean on the strength and compassion of a supportive community.
The on-site professional advocates assist youth as they process their trauma and set goals for moving forward. It takes about $1,000 a month per resident to provide this essential support. Opportunities to connect with other LGBTQ+ youth who have experienced homelessness build a sense of stability and belonging.
The hope is that each youth hears and feels that they are welcome here. That who they are is something worth celebrating. That when they walk through the doors, two words are playing in their mind: Welcome Home.
Our work isn’t done. Too many youth across the metro Twin Cities still have no place to feel welcome and safe. Too many LGBTQ+ youth – especially those who are Latinx, transgender, or Black – don’t have a community of support standing with them and reminding them they are not alone. Too many LGBTQ+ youth struggle alone because our society hasn’t invested the resources to ensure they have the dignity and security of a home.
Until every person can claim and share their authentic self and be assured they’ll have a place where they can hear ‘Welcome Home,’ we still have work to do.
I hope you’ll join me in creating such a world. The world as it should be. A world where Beacon’s vision is fully realized: where all people have a home.