Tuesday, May 12, 2009



MAY 01, 2009

We are walking simply because we believe that our youth should not have to live on the streets, wondering how they are going to get their own needs met.

Many American citizens are not aware that there are sometimes as many as 1.3 million homeless youth in America. These youth often brave the elements huddling for safety in abandoned buildings and make- shift camps, that are eventually raided by law enforcement without warning. There are few safe places for these youth to develop roots of their own and receive the support they need to reach their full potential. And the organizations that are able to support these youth are often in need of adequate resources, funding, and legislation.

It is a privilege to live in a safe and warm home surrounded by a family who loves and respects you - a privilege that is taken (sometimes with force) from the homeless youth that grace the streets of our nation. For almost 400,000 of these homeless youth, this privilege is stripped from them because they identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. The Gay Civil Rights movement is inseparable from the epidemic of homeless youth in America, because Queer youth now make up almost half of the homeless youth population.

These LGBT youth go on to be homeless, where they are more at risk than their heterosexual peers, for physical abuse, sexual exploitation, chemical or alcohol dependancy, discrimination and death. Do you know *13 youth die each day from homelessness? (Statemans Journal, 17 August 2008)*

There is a movement happening in America and although it is quiet...... it runs very deep. We have witnessed first hand the suffering of these children and we say - enough. Now is the time for us to stand with those who would bring families together, not tear them apart. Now is the time for us to feel the impact that senseless discrimination is having on children all over this country. Now is the time to understand that this impact directly affects all LGBTQ people. When one of us is assaulted or dehumanized, all of us are assaulted or dehumanized. When a portion of our society lacks the compassion and integrity to not allow all citizens even their most basic human rights - the impact is intensely polarizing and inhumane. This is why this battle is literally dividing our country in two and driving beautiful children into the streets to live as animals.

We have been sorely disappointed in some of those who dare to call themselves defenders of family values. What is the value of allowing children to live homeless on their own without any real means of growth or stability? What is the value in withholding freedom from others? There is no peaceful reason to invest in these harmful ideologies. There is no peaceful reason to abandon a child.

We have great faith in what we are doing, because we have been deeply moved by the courage and strength of homeless youth. We have seen them make the transition into adulthood under sometimes unbearable circumstances. With appropriate guidance and support we have also seen them become leaders in our community. Although very few in our hometown (Salt Lake City), because resources for homeless youth are scarce.

We have great faith in what we are doing. Because we have been deeply moved by the patience, tenacity, and creativity of those who serve homeless youth - even with inadeqaute resources.

I want the hardworking and heartfelt members of our national community and community organizations, to start getting the adequate resources, funding, legislation, and support they need to resolve these issues. Our society in general and our systems of care have a duty to serve these youth and to make sure they are protected inside and outside of the home.

The bottom line - these youth need assistance NOW and they need it without exception.

The past week, we have been filming homeless youth in Salt Lake City, Utah. The rate of Queer homeless youth in Utah is higher than the national average. Their stories will be the first to go on the website and in many ways they will be the closest to our heart. Because Salt Lake City is our hometown.

While we are enjoying our service work here and excited to band together in our passion to end homelessness, we understand the grave danger and profound suffering that these youth face everyday. We realize, this underground society of children are not often seen or understood by those outside of it.

Our joy comes in serving them and helping to aid them in their recovery. We are also preparing ourselves, and the readers who are following our website, for the hardship they will see once we begin to document the lives of these children.

What we will show you will appall and astonish you. You will be moved to tears and sometimes even rolling with laughter. You will grow to love with this unseen nation of youth and long to reach out to them in every way you can.

They are the children of the Urban Jungle. And we are ready to help them tell their stories of personal defeat and of triumph. Collectively, their story is one of great courage and surprising wisdom. They have much to teach us. We are ready now to hear them, to see them, and if they so choose......to help them any way we can.

There is a movement happening in our nation, a crying out for justice that will not relinquish its hold......and we are calling it OPERATION SHINE.

Homeless Youth Pride Walk 2009 and OPERATION SHINE were created to raise awareness of the LGBTQ homeless youth epidemic in America.

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