A day in the life after you've been kicked out for being LGBTQ.

Youth homelessness is an epidemic, especially for young LGBTQ people. Here are three of their stories.

Image by Michael Calcagno/Upworthy.

As darkness blanketed New York City, Skye Adrian sat alone outside his parents' apartment, devastated and left with very few options.

He had a feeling it could come to this, he tells me. His parents had warned him he better start looking for another place to stay, after all. Still, nothing quite prepares you for the moment your parents kick you out because you’re gay.


"I had nowhere to go," recalls the now 21-year-old of that spring night in 2015. An immigrant from Jamaica, Adrian had just moved to New York and had nowhere to turn. "I didn't know anybody. I'm not from here."

Queer youth homelessness remains at crisis levels in the United States. Research suggests up to 40% of all youth who are homeless identify as LGBTQ, with a disproportionate number of them being transgender and people of color. That’s an alarmingly high figure, considering just about 9% of all youth identify as LGBTQ.

Why are so many young LGBTQ people homeless? The heartbreaking reason, advocates say, is that many are rejected by parents who seem to think it's more acceptable for their children to sleep on the street than to be gay.

For kids like Adrian, once the sun goes down, safe options are few and far between.

You might be able to couch-surf at friends’ houses for a while — like Adrian ended up doing — but that’s no permanent solution. If you’re lucky, you might find a shelter that’s both safe and has an available bed. You might snag a spot on a subway train or a public place like the library, neither of which is ideal. There’s always a sidewalk, of course, a particularly dangerous terrain that leaves you vulnerable to anything from violence to freezing temperatures.

Or there’s the option of "survival sex." As the term suggests, it’s an exchange someone in desperate need makes in order to stay alive. It’s a tactic homeless LGBTQ teens and young people resort to more often than their straight, cisgender peers. For a time, Adrian — who eventually ran out of couches to crash on — began using a hook-up app on his phone to find guys looking for one-night stands and willing to let him stay overnight. The constant stress of finding new partners took a toll on him, though. He was exhausted in more ways than one.

"Of course, if you wanted to stay there, it had to be sex," he tells me. "I got tired of that."

Image by Michael Calcagno/Upworthy.

As the sun came up over Los Angeles, Ashlee Marie Preston knew it would bring another exhausting day simply trying to survive.

As a transgender woman of color living in L.A., Preston found herself relying on meth to keep up. Without a place to call her own, she didn’t see any other way to manage a dizzying way of life that required staying alert and engaged throughout the night, relying on survival sex and keeping up with a group of friends who often resorted to prostitution. It made sense that her sunrises and sunsets eventually began to blur together.

"Here we are, 7 o’clock, 8 o’clock in the morning — I’m nodding off and drinking coffee — then we’d go to the drop-in center to sleep in the chairs," she explains. It was never supposed to be like this, though.

Preston moved to L.A. from Kentucky in 2004. She wanted to live in a safer city, a place more accepting of people like her. But even on the liberal West Coast, Preston underestimated the barriers that would stand in her way.

Being black and trans, finding a job was tough, as it is for many people in her shoes. Even when she’d land one, keeping it proved to be just as difficult. Employers wouldn’t necessarily know she was trans when they hired her, she says. When they found out, things would take a turn — "they would find different reasons to get rid of me," she says.

Unable to find steady employment or a stable living arrangement, she eventually lost all the things she brought with her from Kentucky, including many friends who weren’t accepting of her transition. She was completely devastated.

That feeling of complete loss is what a lot of people don’t understand about homelessness, Preston reveals. It’s not just about losing a physical place, "it's mental, emotional, and spiritual displacement," too, she says. "I felt like I had nowhere to be in the world."

That’s when she would end up at the drop-in center, trying to get some shut-eye as the rest of the city began a regular morning.

She'd wake up in a chair, hopefully be able to take a shower, and do whatever she could before the space would close its doors on her again. Often, she couldn’t find a shelter that would accept her overnight — men's shelters cited safety liabilities, and women's shelters argued that the fact that she'd been assigned male at birth disqualified her from taking one of the beds. It’s a dilemma that's all too common for homeless trans people.

Regardless of the reason, the end result was always the same: Preston and her friends would be back out on the streets just trying to make it through another day. "We had to do it all over again," she says of the exhausting cycle. "It was like rinse and repeat."

Image by Michael Calcagno/Upworthy.

It’s a chaotic day in Manhattan when Giovanni Lamour picks up their phone.

Lamour, who is genderqueer and uses they/them pronouns, quickly apologizes to me for the background noise (an ambulance siren is blaring and kids are screaming nearby), but they’re happy to discuss their difficult past, even during a busy afternoon on-the-go while preparing for their future.

Their life might not seem like most other 24-year-olds’ at the moment — Lamour is living in an emergency housing facility in Queens when we chat — but they’re putting all the pieces together to get there.

Lamour, who grew up in Spanish Harlem, had just come from a clinic visit to make sure they’re staying on top of their health. HIV and hepatitis C testing is just one of many services provided by the Ali Forney Center, a nonprofit committed to helping homeless LGBTQ youth. Lamour has received counseling and college preparation help, benefited from the center’s housing programs, and worked on their job readiness skills (like résumé-writing), all courtesy of Ali Forney.

"I always want to learn something new and problem-solve," they explain. "Where there’s a will, there’s a way."

After Lamour's mother died when they were just 15 years old, they went to live with their father. Their relationship with their dad "really wasn’t the best," they say, admitting they’re in part to blame for a handful of rebellious teen years. But still, Lamour vividly remembers their father’s habit of locking them out of the apartment on summer nights. Feeling unwanted was painfully normal in Lamour's house.

In the decade or so since Lamour’s mother passed away, a series of strained and complicated relationships — with their dad, uncle, friends, and significant others — gradually fell apart. With nowhere else to go, Lamour became homeless. "It’s entirely depressing," Lamour says of their blood relatives, whose intolerance forced them to create a new family. “I’ve really, like, chosen my family — my friends around the city."

Image by Michael Calcagno/Upworthy.

As the sun slowly drops in the sky and families settle into their living rooms across the country, thousands of young, homeless LGBTQ people are left wondering.

They wonder if they’ll eat dinner. They wonder where they’ll rest their heads once the sun disappears. They wonder if the future has any room for them in it.

While many homeless LGBTQ youth struggle in a continuous loop of basic survival, some — like Adrian, Preston, and Lamour — get the help they need and are able to find their way out. "The struggle that you’re going through is real," Lamour wants those young people to know. "It’s real, it’s common, and there’s help there for you."

Today, Lamour is one of Ali Forney’s youth advocates, working to draw more attention to the crisis of LGBTQ youth homelessness. They helped the nonprofit prep for a queer youth summit, for instance, and are leading the charge on various new projects to further Ali Forney’s mission. They’re determined to get back into school someday to prepare for a future in public advocacy. They dream of studying abroad.

Last fall, Adrian, who is living in transitional housing, also began working with Ali Forney. He’s helped the center on various initiatives, like an HIV prevention campaign and the fight to get more shelter beds for young LGBTQ people.  

"I want to be a beacon of hope for all LGBT youth," Adrian explains, noting he’s focusing more on helping other young, queer immigrants like himself who’ve experienced similar struggles. "Regardless of you being homeless, you can still do what you need to get done."

And Preston? One day, she decided she deserved better, and she hasn’t looked back since.

"I remember thinking, 'You know what? I don't know what the plan is — I don't know what God, the universe, whatever, has in store for me,'" she says. "But I know it's no mistake that I'm still here."

The day we talk, Preston is prepping for a meeting at Facebook’s headquarters in San Francisco. Now she’s a media advocate and diversity speaker, focused on elevating the conversations around youth homelessness.

Adrian, Preston, and Lamour aren’t just overcoming their own battles — they’re fighting to save more young lives along the way.

Each and every LGBTQ kid should know they’re loved, after all.

They deserve to wake up to a better tomorrow.

To learn more and help fight LGBTQ youth homelessness, support organizations on the front lines of the crisis, like the Ali Forney Center, the Happy Hippie Foundation, and My Friend's Place.

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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