For the latest episode of his online series, Chosen Family, YouTube star Tyler Oakley took time to explore the effects and impact of homelessness on LGBTQ+ youth.
When thinking of stories to explore for this season of Chosen Family, a big queer experience I realized I didn’t know much about, was LGBTQ+ youth homelessness.
I visited the Los Angeles LGBT Center in Hollywood for a tour of the Center & to meet with a group of young LGBTQ+ people who have experienced homelessness to hear their stories firsthand.
On any given day, there are up to 6,000 youth ages 18-24 struggling with homelessness in Los Angeles County. A staggering 40% of them are LGBTQ.
As one young queer person, Michael, tells Tyler many LGBTQ young people find themselves out on the street due to their families not accepting them for who they are.
"Oh, you're gay? Fifteen minutes – pack your things, you gotta go."
"It's a spectrum," says Sage. "It's not just someone with a shopping cart on the street. You have every day folks who are going through something."
Kevin McCloskey of the LGBT Youth Center explains that there's a misconception about the Center being a "shelter." But, as McCloskey notes, "It's so much more than beds."
The LA LGBT Center offers homeless youth employment services, healthcare, development services, mental health services and more to address LGBTQ youth needs.
That's a big step up for some kids who might be living in a tent, studying for school or their GED by the light of a flashlight.
Trans actress/singer Alexandra Grey was able to successfully transition out of homelessness and living at the LA LGBT Center to living on her own.
Tyler asked what the experience was like to leave her hometown of Chicago and move to Los Angeles. "I think the reality hit me when I got here just how serious it was because I literally came here with nothing and no place to go."
"A piece of all of us needs that encouragement," says Grey. "We need to hear from someone 'Oh, you can make it,' or 'I believe in you.'"
As Tyler points out, LGBT Centers try to fill a void for homeless youth in terms of culture, education, safety and family. Things so many of us take for granted each day.