Guest Post: Ali Forney Center Head Carl Siciliano

From Joe: Beloved readers, on this Thanksgiving Day, as on every other day of the year, uncountable LGBT kids are living on the streets, turned out by the very people who are supposed to love them. As we do every Thanksgiving, today we turn JMG over to Ali Forney Center founder Carl Siciliano. Please click and read his message below…..

LGBT people have achieved remarkable progress in the last few years. But when I listen to what our homeless LGBT youths tell me about the torture and cruelty the have endured, I feel like they are living in a time before Stonewall. It is still very hard to be an LGBT youth if you cannot find acceptance in your home from the people that are supposed to love you, and you are forced to try to survive in the streets.

A few days ago I spoke with a young transgender man who told me about staying with his Aunt when he was 16. She charged him $200 a week to sleep in a small closet, using a pillow for a bed. And while exploiting his desperation for a place to stay, she refused to recognize his gender identity, which was an ordeal for him.. He told me that he tried to make the best of it, and was happy that at least it was a Tempur-Pedic pillow, and that because he was short, the pillow kept “the most important parts of his body” from being on the floor. When he tried to stay in a youth shelter, the intake worker also refused to respect his gender identity. He was placed in a female dorm, where the other girls refused to allow him to use the bathroom. In fear and frustration he ended up sleeping in the subways.

Last week I met with a young woman who told me about sleeping in the streets. She had tried sleeping in an adult women’s shelter, but the bullying and harassment she suffered was so severe that she felt she would be safer sleeping in the streets. She described her first night spent on a bench in Columbus Circle, were she felt so lost and alone that she cried herself to sleep. What you have to realize about her is that she is tiny; I’d be surprised if she is even five feet tall. She looked hardly older than a child. The two bags in which she carried all her belongings in looked larger than she did. It must have been terrifying to be out alone in the street.

A few months ago I spoke with a young man who told me the most upsetting story of all. He described how, after his father found out his son was gay, he told him again and again that he wished he had never been born. That he was ashamed of having “a faggot” as a son. This young man then confided that he had attempted suicide several times. It is horrible to hear such things; you look into a kid’s eyes and you see how ashamed they are to admit how low they’ve been brought, you see the fear in those eyes.

I share these terrible stories this holiday season, because we have to understand how devastated our young people’s lives have been by homophobia in order to understand how necessary the Ali Forney Center is. We have to understand how they have been under attack in their homes, and even in shelters, in order to understand how deep is their need for the safety and affirmation we provide.

But we have some great news to share this holiday season. In recent weeks we have been able to significantly expand our housing program, opening three new apartment with 18 additional beds. Now we are able to house 107 youths each night. It is a wonderful thing to be able to give these hurt and abused youths places of refuge and healing. And we have also opened our first housing site dedicated to the special needs of our transgender youths. This is a source of great joy; of all of our youths, our trans kids face the most violence and danger, both in their homes and in the streets. It is wonderful to provide a place where they can feel safe and affirmed. And renovations are under way on a long abandoned building that, when completed, will be the first housing site that we own. In honor of her goodness to our kids, it will be named the Bea Arthur Residence.

This is life at the Ali Forney Center. Lots of pain, and lots of joy. In this holiday season, when so many youths feel hardest the pain of rejection and separation from their families, I thank the JMG community for standing by our youths, through your generosity helping us provide them with homes where they can at last be safe and begin to rebuild their lives. Everyone needs a home, especially our kids. From the bottom of my heart I thank you for your kindness and generosity, which brings safety, warmth and healing to so many.

With love and gratitude, and wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Donations can be made by clicking here.

To learn more about where you donation goes, visit this link.

Carl Siciliano

  • bkmn

    Done and I hope everyone who can, will kick in what they can too. Thanks for reminding us that there are a lot of kids out there who need our help Joe.

    https://aliforneycenter.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donate.general

    Our young brothers and sisters and friends need a safe place to stay.

    • Veronica Holder

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      • Silver Badger

        flagged.

    • Too true. If you can’t contribute money, you can still get the word out.
      Shared this on my Facebook page, saying:

      So much to be thankful for.
      Help others.
      “Tastes great, less filling.”

      • Lorraine Dorman

        .❝my neighbor’s mom is making $98 HOURLY on the internet❞….A few days ago new McLaren F1 subsequent after earning 18,512$,,,this was my previous month’s paycheck ,and-a little over, $17k Last month ..3-5 h/r of work a day ..with extra open doors & weekly paychecks.. it’s realy the easiest work I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months ago and now making over $87, p/h..Learn More right Here….
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  • John30013

    The Ali Fourney Center is on my permanent charitable donation list with my employer; along with Lost-N-Found Youth, the center for abandoned LGBT youth in Atlanta; and the Trevor Project.

    • Todd20036

      I do the Trevor project and Planned Parenthood

      • Bluto

        I’ve given to PP before, it’s a cause I fully endorse but weekly I receive money begs from them in the mail. I would much rather they used the majority of their resources for what’s intended rather than it going to larger-than-trump-hooge printing & mailing expenditures.

        The Ali Forney Center however is a cause most deserving of generous support, along w/ others such as The Trevor Project & local shelters for LGTB yoots. Thank you Carl & thank you Joe for keeping this in our conscience.

      • skeptical_inquirer

        I do Freedom From Religion Foundation. I view religion as THE big reason why these kids are kicked out of the house.

    • Nychta

      Here in Phoenix the organization one-n-ten serves LGBTQ youth. I’ve pretty much stopped giving Christmas presents to friends, instead making donations to nonprofits I know they’d like to support. None of my friends needs more tchotchkes, books or sweaters!

      • Joe knows who I am.

        Great idea!

  • cheakamus

    Done! Looking now for a local (Seattle) group I can give to — suggestions?

  • Ali Forney also has an Amazon wish list. Just click and ship. Hubby and I do it every year. Thank you, Carl for what you and your staff do for these beautiful kids. Please, let them know they are loved.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/QMLEI6NWOW47/ref=cm_wl_rlist_go_v?

    • sw42

      Very helpful, thanks.

    • yetanotherLaura

      Thanks, done. Anybody know of something local to the Tampa area? I’d like to support a local group as well. I cannot imagine how any parent could turn their back on their child and treat their own children the way these poor kids have been treated!

      • I sent a text to a friend who lives out in St. Pete. He mentioned “Prism Transitional Living Center” and “Metro Health and Wellness” in the Tampa / St. Pete area. My friend says both of these groups have LGBT youth outreach and support. You could probably google for more info.

        • yetanotherLaura

          Thanks, JB. I’ll check them out. Thank your friend for me, and a happy Thanksgiving to you all!

  • Joseph Miceli

    I always start my Amazon shopping from the “Amazon Smile” page for the Ali Forney Center.
    Ali Forney is the ONLY charity I regularly give to… but as much as I know they need help, I wish I knew of something more local to help the kids here. Is there a charity similar to Ali Forney in the New Orleans area that I might be able to help? There are definitely homeless LGBT kids here. This is, after all, the South.

  • Judas Peckerwood

    There is no more pressing priority than supporting and empowering LGBTQetc. youth, especially trans kids. The everyday abuse that so many endure at the hands of adults and their peers is unimaginable to somebody who’s never been in their shoes.

    Edit: And it’s not just in NYC where queer kids need housing and other critical assistance. The need is almost certainly there in your hometown, no matter where you live.

  • Joseph Miceli

    Oh…by the way, Bea Arthur is a god damn saint! I don’t believe in an afterlife, but if there is one, she’s in paradise.

    • Homo Erectus

      She will always be my favorite drag queen 😉

  • Grumpy old Man

    I wish they took PayPal; I will have to figure something out and try again later.,

    • Arock

      They do have PayPal, the account is [email protected].

      • Grumpy old Man

        Woohoo! I am on it,.

    • I know they also use McDonalds and Starbucks gift cards. It gives a kid a place to go to get warm and get off of the street. You could pop over to a local McD or SB and pick up some individual $10.00 gift cards and mail them to the NY address.

  • Dan

    If you use Amazon to buy things throughout the year…and let’s face it, most of us do…you can use Amazon Smile and Amazon will donate a portion of qualifying purchases to Ali Forney directly if you set them up as your charity of choice. For more information: http://smile.amazon.com/gp/chpf/about/ref=smi_se_abtpo_r_about_smi

    • Bluto

      THIS.

  • Ninja0980

    For the life of me, I will never, ever understand how people can justify throwing their kids out on the street because they are LGBT due to religion.
    Any religion that condones that is one I want no part of.

    • Bluto

      I can’t comprehend it either. As a survivor of raising a daughter as a single parent I can’t imagine anything she could have done to make me discard her. It’s sickening & as far as religion is concerned, it’s an un-godly atrocity.

    • I can’t imagine. Not only do they do throw them out but they are encouraged by their church to do so and applauded when they do.

      • Ninja0980

        My friend’s parents actually received support from their church when they did.
        Tough love it was called.

    • Ian

      We were never that religious and my being gay just wiped out any ramnent thereof. Its only my mom and sister in our fam and my sister got on board immediately and my mom did the math very quickly son > religion. Thats how it should go down across the world.

  • Anastasia Beaverhousen

    Donation made..come on, get that money out of your pockets, just give up a few drinks this weekend.

    • David Walker

      It doesn’t really have to be either/or, does it?

      • Anastasia Beaverhousen

        Oh honey, no. Give up drinking? That’s crazy talk.

  • Edward von Behrer

    I find it odd that the Ali Forney Center doesn’t acknowledge contributions. Most charities will send a letter you can use as proof to the IRS you made the contribution, but in all the years I’ve been donating to Ali Forney, I have never received such a note. I still contribute because they’re doing important work, but do find it odd they don’t send regular contributors an occasional newsletter, or invitations to fundraising events or, in other ways, reach out and encourage those check to keep coming. They’re the only charity I know how does that.

    • Alan43

      Under their donation section I think I saw options to receive emails and newsletters

      • Edward von Behrer

        I send a check in the mail, not donate on line.

    • stuckinthewoods

      That wasn’t my experience. I received a letter from Ali Forney Center after donation and have received subsequent requests. Not the frequency of the food bank but I do hear from the Center.

    • I’ve received a letter from them for each and every contribution that we’ve made. If you don’t get one, just ask, but even without it, you can still use that contribution on your taxes with a cancelled check, receipt, or credit card statement as a record.

  • Alan43

    Done

    Good to remind people that while the rest of us are being thankful and counting our blessings there are those with very little to be thankful for

  • MDB

    ~~~ HAPPY, HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ONE and ALL ~~~

    In Albuquerque, we have Casa Q …. begun with the efforts of my friend who is an attorney, and her fellow allies and compadres. You CAN make donations via several methods including Paypal.

    http://www.casaq.org

    https://static.wixstatic.com/media/ad7b98_6a71241d556a48228448b6dc504f5613.jpg/v1/fill/w_980,h_585,al_c,q_75,usm_0.50_1.20_0.00/ad7b98_6a71241d556a48228448b6dc504f5613.jpg

  • David Walker

    “Lots of pain and lots of joy.” I say this to kind of make this not entirely OT. So many of you have done a great things for the Ali Forney Center or for your local LGBTQ homeless shelter. This is a thank you to you and simply a wonderfully (and still pointedly) skewed view of Thanksgiving…dinner AND the turkey.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88ixyp1l1hw

  • zhera

    Well, that’s ME crying!

    Thank you Carl, and thank you Joe, for doing so much for these kids. Your dedication is awe-inspiring and a reminder of how there still are good people in this world.

    Thank you all those who are donating money or time for these kids. ♥

  • ExGayTherapyKills

    My parents put me in a mental hospital and hoped they would keep me there or kill me for being bisexual and at that time that was entirely possible. They were “good” Christians.

    • billbear1961

      🙁

      Hope you’ve come through this ordeal stronger than ever, EGTK, and that all your holidays will be happy!

      • ExGayTherapyKills

        Thank you Billbear 1961, yes I have come through that ordeal stronger than ever. I hope you have happy holidays too.

        • billbear1961

          VERY glad to hear you’re okay, EGTK!

          Whatever they do or try to do to us, we KNOW we have RIGHT on OUR side!

          They are evil. If this weren’t so, the filthy, two-faced bastards would not LIE as they do, all the time!

          To constantly lie is an admission that one is WRONG.

    • omg sweetie. Sweetie!!

  • I’ve remembered the Ali Forney Center in my estate planning. I don’t have kids (just the 4 legged furry kind), so in my own way, I’ve adopted them all.

  • Michael Rush

    Happy Thanksgiving from all the assholes who tried to
    pass off their HATE as ” religious freedom ”
    and ” family values ” , may they continue to fail miserably !!!

    • billbear1961

      Seated right next to their pals, the bloodthirsty members of Daesh!

  • kanehau

    A reminder for those shopping for xmas presents online. The Amazon SMILE program (smile.amazon.com) will donate a portion of every sale to a charity (they have a list of vetted charities).

    Ali Forney Center is one of the charities you can donate to.

    All you have to do is go to the ‘smile.amazon.com’ entrance rather than the normal one, and pick your charity and start shopping.

    It is a way to give a little more with everyday purchases.

  • Joe knows who I am.

    I want to wish everyone here at Joe My God a very Happy Thanksgiving. In lieu of this being the day when the native Americans and the refugee Pilgrims came together to celebrate our diversity, my partner Tuan (AKA: Johnny) and are celebrating with a trip to a nearby casino! 😀

    Gobble, gobble!

  • TheManicMechanic

    Since the day Amazon began their Smile charitable donation function, I’ve set it for the Ali Forney Center. The center might or might not show up in the general list of causes, if it doesn’t, simply do a search and it will appear. This is what I had to do. Most items are eligible for the donation, including many third party sales.

    • My only complaint about that is it doesn’t default to that when I log in to my account. However, you are correct, Smile is a great way to go and just click and ship items from the Ali Forney wish list. Couldn’t be easier!

  • Bj Lincoln

    Thanks for sharing Joe. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

    • billbear1961

      Happy Thanksgiving, dear Bj!

    • Todd Allis

      Happy Thanksgiving!

  • billbear1961

    Happy American Thanksgiving, defenders of liberty and JUSTICE, lovers of the REPUBLIC!!

    https://youtu.be/E2j-frfK-yg?t=14s

    (CJ and I will make a donation before the day is out, Joe!)

  • Mark Pendleton

    Siciliano used to write a real letter but now he sends out fundraising form letters filled with market-tested words and phrases and completely-unverifiable-but-totally-heartwrenching “stories.” I call bullshit on the story about the shelter that “forced” an unnamed transman into a woman’s shelter. In NYC, that‘s illegal. So why not name the shelter? In fact, even if it were legal, why not name the shelter so that other transmen know not to go there? Not saying that AFC doesn’t do good work, but I don’t appreciate the manipulation.

    • Carl Siciliano

      Mark I wish the stories were bullshit. Over the next few weeks we will be publishing photos and accounts of LGBT youths forced to sleep on the streets of NYC because many of the local shelter options are dangerous for LGBT youths (especially those aged 21-24). I’ve been meeting with youths for the last few weeks and listening to the horrors of what they go through for this advocacy project. We launched it yesterday, and the first account is from one of the youths I wrote about in this post. You can look for them on our website at http://www.aliforneycenter.org. The project is called Homeless For The Holidays. The trans man in question will be profiled shortly. His experience was at Covenant House. I have expressed my concerns about anti-LGBT violence and harassment at Covenant House on a number of occasions over the years, as you will see if you google it and my name.

      • David From Canada

        Do you have a mailing address where donations can be sent to your Center? Don’t forget about Snail Mail – a lot of people still use it. I can get money orders for free from my bank, so therefore I can send you a money order made payable in U.S. funds. It all helps!

        • Carl Siciliano

          Ali Forney Center
          224 West 35th Street, Suite 1500
          New York, NY 10001
          Thanks!

          • Josh447

            Carl, so good to read your words of hope for our younger brothers and sisters. You are a God amongst the godless. Can you tell me, is there a LGBT homeless center in LA or on the West Coast somewhere? Or one planned?
            Thank you for all your hard work. I always draw strength to go the extra mile from examples like you.

          • Carl Siciliano

            Josh, thanks for the kind words, though I can assure you I am a mere mortal! The LA LGBT Community Center operates a large shelter program for homeless LGBT youth. Also if you go to http://www.aliforneycenter.org and click on “get help” you will find a guide to homeless LGBT youth resources by state, including several in California.

      • billbear1961

        Some of us are overwhelmed by the endless horror stories, by the EVIL glaring out at us from every shadow and dark corner, often lurching out–and in God’s name, the ultimate obscenity, the definition of blasphemy–to harm the most vulnerable among us!

        The gods or Fate, or call it what you will, SUSTAIN you in your VITAL work!

        The very least that we can do, those of us not strong enough to deal with these horrors on a daily basis, to deal with them directly, is to open our purses and wallets to you who make it your MISSION to confront them and to care for those wounded by them!!

        I’m accustomed to showing some deference to our Head of State, Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada.

        But there is a MAJESTY superior to any possessed by a Crowned Head!

        A frightened old man, frightened by the beast of fascist fanaticism flexing its vile muscles everywhere in this godforsaken world–where ruthless, two-faced SADISTS batten on the helpless–lifts his hat to you!!

        The very definition of nobility–of TRUE nobility–is to do what must be done with no thought of reward, no reward other than the knowledge that you’ve done your duty as a force for GOOD, as a citizen of the LIGHT, as an advocate of HOPE!!

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7G5hy8FMc8

      • Meredith D.

        Carl, may I ask what % of youth that you help are LGB vs the % that are transgender? The LGB homeless youth population is much larger than the homeless trans youth population. But your letter goes out of its way to elevate transgender needs above those of LGBs. And in the picture above all but 1 or 2 people are trans. You even boast about starting a discriminatory trans-only shelter, where no “cis” LGB young people will be allowed to stay. Presumably, it is better that LGB kids sleep in the streets than contaminate the trans-only shelter. I gave to your organization after Hurricane Sandy and then again in 2013 and 2014. But my giving is done if AFC, like certain other gay-funded orgs, has decided to show how “progressive” it is by distancing itself from LGB youth in favor of transgenders. Someone needs to look out for gay youth and not drop them if they aren’t the social justice flavor of the month.

        • Carl Siciliano

          Meredith,
          AFC provides 107 beds for homeless LGBT youths. Of those, six beds are located in a new pilot site dedicated to the special needs of trans youths. As an organization we are dedicated to the safety and protection of all LGBT youths, and will very much continue to be so.
          About 25% of youths seeking our services are trans and 75% are LGB.
          The young people we serve are all subjected to disturbingly high degrees of rejection and hostility, but none more so than our trans youths. Unfortunately, even some LGB people can be rejecting and hostile to trans youths. Just as it proved to be healing for LGBT youths to be provided with a space in their lives where they can start to overcome the damage done to them by homophobia, so I suspect that this new space will likewise be healing for trans youths as they struggle to overcome the harm of transphobia.
          Thanks so much for your kindness and generosity over these past years!

          • No1Son (Matt Hayes)

            Wow. I didn’t read the whole letter and missed the part about the T-only shelter. Dude it takes chutzpah to ask gay people to pay for a shelter that won’t take in gay people. If it’s true that there were some LGB residents who were hostile to Ts, then the solution is to make this facility open to Ts and to LGBs who are OK with living with Ts. Instead, you just cut LGBs out entirely, which sorta makes me think that this is not really a response to LGB rejection or hostility. Imagine what would happen if we started a shelter that took in LGBs but hung up a no-trans allowed sign and then we asked Ts to pay for it. /smh/

    • Lumpy Gaga

      I believe that children are our future so I think it’s important to help them by supplying amateurish trolls.

      Helps them cut their teeth, so to speak.

  • Steve Teeter

    Donation made. The thought of gay kids just cast aside and homeless breaks my heart. I’m glad I can do something to help.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Ben in Oakland once wrote about it this way. He said that although he never had children he thinks of the tormented LGBT you as his Spirit Children, he hopes (and works towards) for them to live in a better world. Spirit Children, he must have written that at least 3 or 4 years ago and I never forgot it.

  • David From Canada

    Carl Siciliano strikes me as a saint of a man with the patience of Job and the wisdom of Solomon.
    A number of years ago, the rock group Depeche Mode had a big hit out called “Personal Jesus.” Carl is indeed the Personal Jesus to all these homeless kids and this Center in NYC. Most of us wouldn’t have the strength and dedication that he has. He’s one in a million and then some. Great Blessings to him!

  • Lorraine Dorman

    .❝my neighbor’s mom is making $98 HOURLY on the internet❞….A few days ago new McLaren F1 subsequent after earning 18,512$,,,this was my previous month’s paycheck ,and-a little over, $17k Last month ..3-5 h/r of work a day ..with extra open doors & weekly paychecks.. it’s realy the easiest work I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months ago and now making over $87, p/h..Learn More right Here….
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