Coming out. It can be a time of celebration or a time of turmoil. Many coming out stories are marked with intense feelings that are as individual as each one of us are. I find that often most people in your life know it already, so it doesn’t come as a surprise. In these situations, there is more often acceptance, from family and friends.
Problem – this is not always the turnout of events. 1 out of 4 homeless LBGTQ youths are rejected by their family after coming out. Many end up on the streets without income to support themselves.
At a time where these youths need a safe place, they have none. Due to lack of support by family for their gender identity or sexuality they are on the streets - 25 to 40% of homeless youth identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, or Two-Spirited.
It is an all too common scenario associated with the process of Who am I? Social withdrawal happens when a youth is not accepted to grow into the person they are - they question themselves and who they should be. The support in Canada for LGBTQ2S youth has gotten better over the past decade, yet well falls short of resources compared to other countries.
These youths displaced by their family are a great risk for abuse, sex for survival and violence as mainstream shelters do not have the support mechanisms in place necessary for these youths. In mainstream supports, their gender identity has been dismissed, their sexuality mocked. They have been bullied, abused – even murdered.
Imagine all this happening to you, just because you are being true to yourself? Hard pill to swallow. Even harder without support. Many choose the streets. Many feel it is safer. This is a serious gap in our society.
Awareness of the experiences of the LGBTQ2S youth must increase, as should the practical support of housing, education and social outreach for these displaced youth.
It is society that strips them down, when we should be bringing them up! As pure as it gets - they are simply being themselves. True to themselves.
This should always be a time for celebration, as isn’t that how we are supposed to live? To be happy? Rejection simply for being themselves is a great tragedy. We, as a society must stand behind these future generations and provide funding and support to keep them off the streets, into adequate housing and pursuing their dreams.
It is our social responsibility.