"You are not welcome in this house" were the most painful words Josh heard from his parents after he came out to them. Josh grew up in a conservative household whose views on LGBT individuals was not supportive and although he knew his parents were not going to approve of his LGBT identity he never thought they would kick him out.
In a matter of minutes Josh's father asked him to pack his belongings and leave. Josh's mom came to him and in a whisper told him to lie to his father about his identity and that she would "find him help" to heal him from his sexuality. Josh's rejection was now coupled with betrayal by his mother who would not protect him. Nearly a year after making his way to New York City from Vermont he still breaks down into tears when describing how his mother would not stand up for him.
In the weeks following being forced out of his home and finding the Ali Forney Center Josh, who was raised in a very sheltered home had to quickly learn the ways of street life and sex work.
Within hours of arriving at our Drop In Center in Harlem, Josh was offered a bed in our Emergency Housing Shelter. He was referred to our Career and Education Readiness Program, which helps youths exit sex work by offering them tangible career and educational paths that are specifically designed to meet their needs. Above all our staff is affirming Josh's LGBT identity and helping him with the mental health services he needs to overcome the trauma of family rejection while also addressing the traumas of associated with survival sex, food insecurity and being homeless.
Josh is one of the thousands of youth forced out of their homes due to their LGBT identity and the prevailing homophobic and transphobic rhetoric in our country. Tragically since the beginning of the 2016 presidential election AFC has seen a 20% increase in the number of youth in need of our care and support services, we fear this is only the beginning. This holiday season, more than ever, we ask you to help us provide for our homeless LGBT youth.