Sunday, May 31, 2015

A CALL TO ACTION: LGBT HOMELESSNESS

By the time that many of you will read this, it will be a new day.

****THESE ARE MY OBSERVATIONS****

Tonight went well, starting with the HERO one year anniversary event, The Loosen the Bible Belt and a late dinner went well. It was after dinner that my heart shattered into a billion pieces, as a friend and I left a Montrose area restaurant, I ran into another friend. I immediately knew that when I saw her that she had no where to go and probably had not eaten, probably that whole day. So I gave her the last two dollars in my pocket and then bought her something to eat. The ride back home for me was quiet and filled with thoughts about how and why it is so hard for the LGBT homeless to find shelter, help and care without being HIV positive.

Let me step back and tell y'all how tonight was the culmination of  several interactions with her and observations about her and how she is/was treated over that time. I first met her when, I visited Msociety a subsidiary of Legacy Community Health Services here in Houston. She was sitting at the welcome desk and We politely spoke as I observed that she was in the process of transition from male to female and it was clear that she lacked the resources to help along in the process. For context, when I say resources, I mean counseling, hormones, and people to help guide her through this transition. It was obvious from that point on, that when I made subsequent visits that the staff was not equipped or trained in how to be a resource or to refer Trans persons of color to agencies that can help.

She would be looked down upon by some of the visitors and some of the staff with whom the interactions were quite interesting to watch. Because of those accumulated interactions, I began to ask questions and found out that she is homeless like many of the LGBT youth in the Houston area. I know all too well what that is like because I WAS part of the LGBT homeless youth community for a time in New Orleans. It is sad to see that we have drop in centers like Msociety and others that only cater to CDC codes like "MSM" (MEN who have SEX with MEN). WHERE IN THE HELL ARE THE ALL ENCOMPASSING TRANS RESOURCES? That is one of many questions that come to my mind as I write about homeless folks within the LGBT community. I mean Legacy is really great at helping those in TRANSition along with all of the required processes, please correct me if I am wrong.

Why tell us how to prevent STI/STD infection and then allow us to be faced with lack of resources like SHELTER, FOOD & OVER ALL SAFETY? This is not to blame those doing the hard work of prevention in our community, but intersectionally speaking we don't have our ducks in a row to address all of the issues that we face in Houston and the rest of out country. We must take the responsibility to take care of ALL of the parts of the LGBT community. We cannot fix it all at once, but we need resources to be available to ALL and VISIBLE TO ALL. SO I AM ASKING THOSE OF US IN THE HOUSTON LGBT COMMUNITY TO WORK FROM WITHIN THEIR OWN LANES TO REDUCE OVERALL LGBT HOMELESSNESS.

THIS IS A CALL TO ARMS - ASHTON P. WOODS