I grew up in New York City. My mother and I got evicted from our apartment when I was seventeen. She went to live with a relative, but there was no room for me. So I am on my own.
I used to stay with a friend in the Bronx, but staying with other people never lasts. Finally I just had to sleep on the subway trains. I've slept on trains more times than I can count.
I would sit there and hold onto myself. I didn't want to get robbed of the little bit of stuff that I had. Some nights I would be in the trains and other than me it would be only males in the car. You'd think "Man, I don't have nothing to protect me, I have no one to save me". It was scary. You feel like you have to be aware at all times. You are too afraid to go to sleep. It is exhausting. It is really frustrating. You have to put on that hard shell, cause if you don't it is open window for people to rob you, to bully you.
When you have to go to the bathroom, you have to know which stops have restaurants with bathrooms. And then if you don't have money to get back on the train you have to beg.
It feels really lonely being by yourself on the trains. It feels like the lowest point in your life. I never thought I would get this low, having no one, with no place to go.
When I was 16 I got kicked out of my parent's house in Greenville New Hampshire. My dad didn't want me there anymore. And he told my auntie that I was bisexual, so she wouldn't help me either. I come from a big Christian family; they would tell me I was going to hell.
The state put me in a group home. They didn't specialize in LGBT stuff. When people found out I was bisexual and had a girlfriend I got beat up a lot.
When I was 17 they put me back in an abusive situation in my home. But my father threw me out again right before my 18th birthday.
I met a guy online, and told him I was getting thrown out. He told me I could come stay with his family in Michigan. I thought he was my friend. But when I got there I had to do things I didn't want to do. I had to have sex with him and other people. I said "no", but he coerced me to do it. I was an 18 year old kid. I didn't know what to do.
So I met another guy online, and moved in with him. At first it was ok, like it was just us in a relationship, but then he made me have sex with his friends. Basically he was my pimp, and would collect off of me. He would beat me up all the time to make me do what he wanted. I had black and blues all over my body. After a year of hell I finally got out of there by threatening to show his family my hospital records.
I figured being with these guys and doing what they wanted was the price I had to pay to keep off the streets. I figured I would go through the same stuff on the streets. But at least I had a warm place to stay.
Don't throw your kids out. Let them stay there and choose their own path. Whether they are queer, lesbian, gay, bisexual, whatever, it doesn't give you the right to throw then out, because what happened to me will probably happen to your kid. I just don't want people to be in my situation.
I was born in Trinidad. When I was five we moved to Norfolk Virginia.
By the time I was nine I knew I was a girl. When I was fourteen I started growing my hair out, and would go to a friend's house to change into girl's clothes. My mother was very strict and conservative. When she would find out what I was doing she would throw me out of our house, for weeks at a time, to teach me a lesson.
I had nowhere to go. There were no shelters in Norfolk. So I would hook up with guys hoping for a place to stay, or find a house party to go to. On nights when I didn't find anyone I would just walk around town all night. The next day I would fall asleep in class.
For a few months I stayed with a guy. He was 25. He had me stay in his basement. Since I was too young to get a job, the only way I could stay there, the only way I could contribute to the house, was to have sex with him and his friends. They would take turns. In the mornings he would drop me off at school. I was still focused on school.
That was one of the worst things I've been through. I was only fourteen. I didn't know anything about sex. I knew schoolwork, home, video games, chores.
Then my mom sent me to North Carolina, to live with my aunt who was in the Marines. I didn't want to get on my aunt's bad side, She was very strict, a military girl. I felt I had to close off being trans. It made me feel dead inside, in the core of my soul. It was bad.
All this time I felt that I was the only trans person in the world. I was totally isolated. I didn't know anything about trans. When I was eighteen I came to New York City. That was when I met other trans people. That was when my life really started. For eighteen years of my life I felt like everything was a struggle. When I met other trans people my life really began. That is why I call myself Eighteen.
My mom always told me to accept myself, to be true to myself. She always had my back. My mom died of cancer when I was 16. My relatives wouldn't accept me. They took in my brother, but to me they said "fuck you, faggot!"
I was in Ocala, a town in Florida. I would sleep in a community center in a park. It was open all night. About 20 of us homeless kids would sneak in and sleep on the floor. I used my duffel bag as a pillow. There was no kind of shelter for youths in Ocala.
I kept going to high school. I graduated on time when I was 18. My mom always said the most important thing was an education, so I kept going to honor her. I didn't want her to kick my butt in the afterlife.
I kept my schoolbooks in my big green duffel bag. Along with soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant and a few clothes.
The worst nights were when the cops chased us out of the community center. We would scatter and run. On those nights I would hide in an empty wooded lot in the trees and weeds. That was the worst, especially in the summer. I have bad allergies; my eyes would swell up and fill with tears. That was hell.
Now I work as a game advisor in a video store. I get to play all the games! It is the best job. I want to go to college in the next year.
I grew up in Long Island, with my grandmother. She was very religious. When she found out I was gay, she tried to do an exorcism. Then she disowned me.
I tried to start my life over by moving in with my Aunt. She lived in the outskirts of Atlanta. But she kept calling me a faggot, and then she threw me out.
I only had $20, and a few clothes in a duffel bag. I had nowhere to go, and no way to get anywhere. So I went into the woods near her house and stayed there for three days. Surrounded by snakes, raccoons, mosquitos. I had nothing to eat, nothing to drink. I was so scared and depressed. I didn't think I was going to make it. And I felt like my life wasn't worth living.
Finally I walked out of the woods and collapsed in the street. I was hospitalized for dehydration.
When I got out of the hospital they put me in a grown men's shelter, but I was only 16. I got into fights every single day I was there; the men kept harassing me and calling me a faggot.
Being homeless is very scary. Not knowing how to get your next meal, not knowing where to shower. It's really rough. You can't wash your clothes. You don't want to be around people smelling like that. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know where to go. It was too much for me.
In the USA, there is no adequate safety net for homeless youth. Last year over 500,000 youths experienced homelessness. Fewer than 50,000 of them were able to access shelter. At least 40% were LGBT, because so many teens are rejected by families who cannot accept them.
Homeless for the Holidays is a project created by Ali Forney Center Executive Director Carl Siciliano, allowing brave homeless LGBT youths from across our Country to describe how they survive without shelter. Each week between Thanksgiving and Christmas we will post several survival stories. We hope this will inspire others to work to protect homeless youths by supporting the few programs across the country that provide housing, and by demanding that our country become a place where every homeless teen can have a safe place to sleep at night.