Sunday, May 14, 2006

Our Nearly Invisible Queer Children

I had planned to write this entry about my travel to New York City this past week. I went to see the Color Purple on Broadway. It was indeed a powerful performance, and I will indeed blog about it later this week. But first, I have to talk about another powerful experience that occurred for me while in NYC. That was seeing same gender loving or queer kids (the labels don't much matter to them; they have more important things on their minds -- like surviving the night) congregated on the Pier at the end of Christopher St. in Manhattan.

Now I know that for New Yorkers, this is nothing new. I understand from my companion (I love you man for being there with me and opening my eyes) that these kids have been on that pier and in that vicinity for quite some time. Many are homeless and victimized by predators with money willing to lure them into prostitution. And so many succumb in desperation to eat and survive in the most powerful city in the country and arguably, the world.

Here are young adolescents with the promise of life already taken from them. They have been cast out by families that are homophobic or made to live in such unbearable conditions that it is preferable to face the unknowns of the street than to stay in physically and mentally abusive homes. And I watched them banding together for brotherhood, comradeship, support and security. They do not know where their next meal is coming from because they are not counted as protected clients of the vast social service agencies.

Their social interactions may be formed by the House Balls or Voguing or trading sexual favors for the essentials of survival. They are caught up in the porn industry where they risk their health for $200 to be able to eat and sleep for a few days/nights. The weather is getting warmer now. I suspect more will try to sleep on the streets as opposed to the few overcrowded shelters than try to give them a cramped space in the coldest weather.

The point is that these are our kids. They are not conservative republicans or liberal democrats. They are not "buppies" with Ivy league degrees scuffling for a place at the bottom of the corporate ladder on Wall Street. There are no trust funds to insure that they will survive to have a future beyond their childhoods; not even a vaccine to protect them from the scourges of sexual transmitted diseases that will rob them of their strength and ultimately of their lives. But there are those who instead of helping them would seek to marginalize them and sweep them further out of sight. Our actions may make the difference between a healthy life or a miserable survival at great costs.

I have written before about how my generation failed the succeeding generations by not providing the mentoring, nurturing and role modeling that was needed to help young black men of same sex desires transition to mentally healthy life. Now I hope that the next generation will not let the following generations have to carve out a place for themselves that is not healthy.

Small donations to worthwhile programs are a start. But even more, take on 1 or 2 guys and mentor them. Talk to them. Let them know that you care and love them. Make a financial donation to them, too. Buy some food, pay for a night's stay to get them off the street. Be an advocate for them; help them to fight the battles that they do not know how to fight for themselves.

And don't for one minute think this is a New York problem. You have only to look into the lives of "gutter punks" in New Orleans or the homeless kids in the Belmont neighborhood of Chicago or the homeless teens in your backyard.

1 John 4:7-11

[7] Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
[8] Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.
[9] God's love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him.
[10] In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
[11] Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.

Shem hotep.