OPINION: This Pride month, let’s not forget the LGBTQ+ homelessness crisis

by Mike Findlay-Agnew | International Network of Street Papers (INSP)
Wednesday, 21 June 2023 08:17 GMT

A homeless person arranges her tent in Santiago, Chile July 7, 2022. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado

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* Any views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

This Pride month, we must not forget that LGBTQ+ people are more likely to be homeless

Mike Findlay-Agnew is chief executive of the International Network of Street Papers.

June is Pride month. The origins of Pride may be in protest, but nowadays you would be hard pushed to not to get caught up in celebrations involving colourful flags, performances and parties.

On a global scale, the month of Pride is now associated with inclusivity in all its forms. Not just of the LGBTQ+ community itself, but for all friends, family members, allies and for anyone else who just wants in on the action.

But away from the celebrations, the fight for true equality continues. One area we shouldn’t forget about is the challenges of being LGBTQ+ and homeless.

Estrangement or rejection from family members is all too common for LGBTQ+ people and can result in homelessness being more common within the community. As someone who is part of the that community, I know countless people who have been rejected by family members not willing to accept their sexuality or gender identity.

Adam Lambert, lead vocalist from the band Queen, aptly put it in recent interview: "Some people are not fortunate enough to have their real families accept them for who they are. And so the thing that's so beautiful about Pride is it gives you the sense of an adopted family.”

A recent report by the Centre for Homelessness Impact highlighted how LGBTQ+ people are more likely to experience homelessness than their peers.

The issues are complex and deep rooted.

LGBTQ+ people are more likely to experience social isolation, mental health challenges or being put into care from a young age. Each of these overlapping experiences increases the likelihood of being homeless at some stage in life.

Thankfully some solutions and interventions are already underway.

akt is a UK based charity that supports LGBTQ+ people aged 16-25 who are experiencing homelessness or living in a hostile environment, for example homophobic, biphobic or transphobic parents. The impact of their work is clear from the people they support.

One such person is Alex, who was living with abusive family that rejected them because of their gender identity. Alex was struggling with their mental health and was unable to move out and seek employment due to being in full-time education.

After being appointed a case worker with the charity, Alex managed to secure funds through akt’s Independent Living Fund covering costs for registering on the SpareRoom website. Alex is now settled in supported accommodation, working part-time in a bar, volunteering for a charity and on-track to complete their A-levels.

There are many people like Alex, not just in the UK, but globally.

Street papers, sold by homeless people with an eye to encouraging resilience and self-reliance, is an effective way of helping people out of homelessnesss.

The Big Issue brand is well known here in the UK, but the street paper movement is truly global. Due to the prevalence of the LGBTQ+ homelessness crisis, it is not surprising that many of our vendors (sellers of street papers) are part of this community.

Over Pride month, we have seen countless examples of street papers that are covering issues that explore the plight of LGBTQ+ people living in poverty and the issues that intersect with it:

• The new issue of German street paper fiftyfifty highlights the plight of young people who have ended up homeless because they are lesbian, gay or trans.

• The Pride issue of Michigan’s Groundcover News exploring the experiences of trans people in homeless shelters, the hidden struggles of asexuality, and aligning queer advocacy with faith.

• Swedish street paper Faktum's special short story collection brings together stories from both established authors and new unknown talents, including author Milla who podcasts about queer literature.

Street papers across the world are committed to telling the real-life stories of LGBTQ+ people not just for the month of Pride, but all year round. Quality journalism can break down barriers to understanding the issues. With better understanding comes the opportunity to make transformational and lasting change that improves the lives of many LGBTQ+ people globally.

This June, I would encourage you to attend a Pride event, donate to homelessness and/or LGBTQ+ charities – and buy and read a street paper.

Openly is an initiative of the Thomson Reuters Foundation dedicated to impartial coverage of LGBT+ issues from around the world.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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