TANK, 23

I grew up in Queens. I had to leave home because I was abused by my mother; called a faggot, vulgar stuff.
 
When I was with friends who were also homeless, we would huddle together, sometimes in Union Square, sometimes in Staten Island. We would sleep in Staten Island in abandoned buildings that had been left wrecked by Hurricane Sandy. Once when we walked on the floor, the floorboard broke underneath us, and a friend had his leg split open. We closed the wound and took him out into the street before we called the ambulance. We didn't want anyone to know where we were staying.
 
We were afraid to stay in the adult shelters - we heard too many things about LGBT kids being beaten and robbed there.
 
A friend who knew I was on the streets got me a job at Taco Bell. I was working maintenance, working the night shift. I was also going to college. It was hard, sometimes I was crying. Sometimes I would look bummy, but I was still going to class. I had to go. I always heard my mother in the back of my head saying I wouldn't get nothing for myself.
 
I want to be a veterinarian. Plus I want to open a home for youth who have nowhere to go.