In a news story titled “Homeless youth: the next battle for gay equality,” the Associated Press today examines the burgeoning epidemic of LGBT kids ejected from their homes by their own families.
Iro Uikka clutches his throat as he describes the violent clash that led to spending his nights sleeping in New York City subway cars. “When I told my mother I was gay, she grabbed me by the neck and threw me out,” he says. “Then she threw my coat on top of me and shut the door.” That was five years ago when he was 18, still living at home in Florida. Uikka is among tens of thousands of homeless youths across America who are LGBT — lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Most are on the streets because they have nowhere else to go — outcasts who leave home after being rejected by family members or flee shelters because residents bully or beat them. LGBT young people represent a dramatically high proportion of an estimated 600,000 or more homeless youths across the country — between 20 percent and 40 percent, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute.
Many times I’ve heard Carl Siciliano tell audiences that these kids are often the paradoxical victims of advances in gay rights. Emboldened by a widening acceptance in society, gay kids are sometimes now coming out at ages too young to fend for themselves when their parent don’t accept the news. In the above-linked article, Siciliano says, “These kids are the collateral damage of our cultural wars.”