I am homeless because i am gay

Stories from the Streets

No support takes it's toll

Once on the streets, youth who identify as LGBTQI2S can have great difficulty finding shelters that accept and respect them. They are often at a heightened risk of violence, abuse, and exploitation compared with their heterosexual peers. Transgender people are particularly at physical risk due to a lack of acceptance and are often turned away from shelters; in some cases, signs have been posted barring their entrance.

‘My mother stopped feeding me’

I grew up in Rockwood, Ontario and left home at 15. I am on ODSP and struggle with anxiety. My mom just stopped feeding me. One day, the day I finally left, she threw my food to the dogs.

Mom basically ignored me. She spent all her time with her boyfriend, and they would never talk to me. I wasn’t allowed to leave my room, and when I did they grounded me. My teachers tried to help. They put me in a group home, but I couldn’t afford the rent. Then, I was forced into the shelter and lived there for two years. I live on the street now, as it is easier. Toronto is kinder than some cities. Some cities actually ticket you for sleeping outside. Easier to get food and help here too.

I sleep on a heat vent downtown. Shelters are not cool. Things go missing, and other stuff. Some nights, I try to sleep inside, like in the PATH. Security tells me to move. I make about $200 a week begging.

To be honest, it living is not that hard on the streets in Toronto, except for the cold months of the year, and always having to move because some security guy or cop hassles you to move on. Being homeless, you are invisible. People ignore you. They treat you wrong because they don’t like seeing us on the street. I feel people resent us, and think we are all bums or addicts. I go to school, and do normal things. I just don’t have a home. Most people ignore you.

Drew age 18

I left home because my mom chose my step dad over me. He was abusive, always yelling and hitting me. One day I asked mom to choose. She chose him. I left. She didn’t care. I go to school, so I get only $280 every month from Ontario Works. I live in a shelter as you cannot find a room for less than $500 in the city. I’m eligible as long as I’m going to school, which I am. I want an education so I don’t end up like my mom, having to depend on a man.

Because of this, I won’t leave the shelter until I finish school. I can’t live on $280 a month. I have stayed alive because of others. People need to give more. Clothes, stuff to keep clean, food. Everything I have has been given to me. Without this help, I would not have anything.

Katie age 16

I left home because my mom didn’t want me there anymore. I lived with my mom and two younger brothers. We weren’t like other families. We did whatever we wanted. I think I acted out and got in trouble on purpose just to see if she cared. She never cared if we went to school, and eventually she got tired of being a mom.

We talk sometimes. I cry a lot, yet she doesn’t ask me to come back home.

Tisha age 17

When I was 13, my mom’s boyfriend and I didn’t get along, so they kicked me out by calling the police saying I threatened him with a knife. The cops put me in a youth shelter. Shelters only allow you to stay short term, so I went back home after two weeks. My parents started using the threat to call the police and kick me to a shelter as punishment. Whenever I got in trouble, I end up in a shelter. Eventually I couldn’t take home anymore, and I ended up on the streets.

J.D. age 16