Kris was 14 years old when he came out to his friends at school who, to his surprise, very supportive of him. Through the support he received Kris found the courage to come out to his deeply religious family. Unfortunately he was brutally beaten and sent to a conversion therapy camp in the south. By 15 Kris had been in and out of four conversion therapy programs. His family's abuse and rejection was relentless. By 16 Kris was broken and tormented by these programs and the way his parents treated him.
Kris ran away from home where he found himself on the streets selling his body for food and shelter. Kris sought validation and a way to survive through these exchanges. Kris learned about AFC through another homeless youth he met on the streets. He was reluctant to engage with any program due to his experiences. It was during a brutally cold night on the streets that Kris gave in and decided to come with his friend to AFC. Fortunately, AFC's Drop In Center is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Kris was immediately offered a warm meal, access to showers and someone to talk to. By the next morning Kris was meeting with a Case Manager who was setting up Kris for a doctor's appointment, on-site at our clinic. By that evening Kris was packing the new clothes and toiletries that was offered to him moving into our emergency housing program.
In spite of everything his parent's put him through and what he endured on the streets to survive, Kris' biggest desire is to reunite with his family and go back home. Kris is working with a mental health therapist on understanding his family's rejection and the trauma it caused.
*Statistically, in the US, more than 50% of homeless youth are propositioned for sex in exchange for food, shelter or money within 72 hours of being Homeless.
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.