Guest Post: Ali Forney Center Founder 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….

After working with homeless LGBT youth for so many years, I figured nothing could shock me. I was wrong. Now, more and more young people are coming to us after being held at the border, immigrants who’ve been crowded into detention camps in the most cruel, inhumane conditions. The stories they tell us are shocking, shameful and horrifying: of being crowded in filth, in conditions not fit for human beings, unable to lay down, sick, without access to medical care.

Eight weeks ago we welcomed five young people who had been imprisoned in solitary confinement for months after being abused and assaulted in the camps because they are transgender. The traumas young LGBT people have experienced in the camps are profoundly psychologically damaging. Our outreach workers tell me some of the homeless queer immigrant youths they encounter in the streets are so terrified of ICE, have been so badly scarred, that they won’t even come to our programs, and feel safer sleeping beneath subway tracks in Queens.

This summer I had the honor of speaking to many thousands of people at the opening ceremony of world Pride. Preparing for that speech I thought a lot about the meaning of the Stonewall riots, especially in light of the many homeless street youth who fought back against homophobic policing that night. Marsha P. Johnson. Jackie Hormona. Danny Garvin. Zazu Nova. Miss New Orleans. Martin Boyce. Those homeless kids weren’t the ones being put into the paddy wagons, but they fought out of solidarity. Solidarity. Recognizing someone else’s mistreatment, someone else’s oppression as our own. Recognizing our common humanity. Solidarity.

I believe our LGBTQ community is uniquely called upon to offer the witness of solidarity in these deranged, terrifying times. We are unique because we are a community of every race, of every gender, of every nationality, of every belief. If we can stand together, in all our fierceness and diversity, asserting that none of us can be left behind, none of us can be devalued, none of us can be tortured, none of us can be killed, then we can become a living image of solidarity. Then we can offer an antidote to the vicious, divisive evils of our times.

And now the holidays are upon us, and once again we are cooking feasts and collecting presents for the 200 young people in our care. I thank the JoeMyGod community for standing with the Ali Forney Center for so many years; for allowing us, through your kindness and generosity, to offer safety and protection and homes to young people who have suffered more than any human being ever should. If you are able, I hope you will continue to support us.

For anyone willing to help, donations can be made online via credit card or PayPal.

Or they can be mailed to:
Ali Forney Center
224 West 35th Street, 15th Floor
New York, NY 10001

For information about our audited financials and how our donations are spent, go here. I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful holiday season.

With love and gratitude,

Carl Siciliano
Founder/Executive Director of the Ali Forney Center