Growing up was very lonely for Troy. He lived alone with his father who worked two jobs. He recalls being mostly by himself.
Troy's father found out he was gay when he saw him on the street with his boyfriend. They were holding hands when they looked up and saw his father's car. When Troy got home, he and his father talked about it for hours. At the end his father said he no longer had a son, that his son was dead and that he needed to leave.
When Troy was faced with the reality of being homeless, his biggest fear of being alone became a reality. He realized he no longer had a family, that because of his identity there was no one to care for him and no one to help him.
He remembers crying uncontrollably during his first few nights of sleeping alone on the trains. Troy was scared to go into a homeless shelter, he feared he would be harassed because of his identity. Even when he found out about AFC, he remembers being so nervous that he stood outside of our Drop In Center for an hour, trying to work up his nerve to ring our bell.
Today, Troy is living in our housing program with 5 other young people like him. He calls them and our staff his family. He misses his father and wishes to have a relationship with him but he no longer feels alone. He's working on graduating from our program and getting an apartment with roommates while he plans for college.
By the age of 6 Mariam knew there was something different about her. She was born male but she didn't feel as if she were male. Growing up she was bullied at school for "acting like a girl." At home her mother, father and older brother demanded that she "act like a man." As Mariam got older she recalls feeling very depressed, anxious, and worthless. She recalls feeling that she could deal with the bullying and harassment at school but that she could never deal with how her family treated her.
Mariam contemplated suicide many times but fortunately recognized that she wasn't the problem. Instead of taking her own life Mariam worked on a plan to runaway from home. Mariam learned about the Ali Forney Center on the internet and called our 24/7 Drop In Center where a counselor told her she was welcome in our space, that she was not alone and above all that we cared for her wellbeing - words she had never heard before. Within hours of arriving at our Drop In Center Mariam was placed in our Transgender Housing Program with other girls just like her. Within a few weeks Mariam began accessing counseling in preparation for hormone replacement therapy which is offered on-site at our Drop In Center's Medical Clinic.
Mariam is still plagued by the rejection of her family who will not speak to her but she is engaged in our mental health services that are helping her work through this trauma. She is also enrolled in our Career and Education Readiness Program that worked to get her placed in a school that embraces LGBT youth. Mariam is graduating from High School this June and plans on going to college to study business.