The Ali Forney Center Examines Religious Intolerance Experienced by Homeless LGBT Youth

With the celebration of Passover already under way, Millions of Christians are now in the final days before Easter. Carl Siciliano of the Ali Forney Center, the New York City housing and resources center for homeless LGBT youth, has decided to use the opportunity to address the role he sees Christian households playing in the abuse and rejection of LGBT identifying children. Siciliano released a set of videos, and an accompanying essay, addressing the issue. The videos, all titled "Homeless LGBT Youth on Religion and Family Rejection", highlight the stories of 4 different young people who have found themselves forced from their homes due to their parents' religious beliefs in regards to their sexual identification. Each video discusses their respective family's inability to come to terms with their sexuality because of religious doctrine or ideology.

In his open essay, Siciliano states that:

Many conservative Christians are increasingly preoccupied with fighting against the equal treatment of LGBT people in our society. And no one suffers more harm from this fight and the intolerant climate it creates than the LGBT children of too many of these Christians…A healthy society prioritizes the safety of children. Decent people do not stand by in silence when children are being abused.

Carl Siciliano backs up this claim by including the videos. The youth spend the time confessing their struggles with their oppressive religious past, often blinking back tears. Their stories all share the attempt by parents to suppress their children's sexual identification with oppressive, and often violent, religious tactics.

Vincent, an LGBT youth in one of the videos, describes his mother forcing him to stay up until 4 AM reciting biblical versus claiming to condemn homosexuality and gender transitioning.

 

In another instance a boy describes how his parents told him that being LGBT is an abomination and would make God want to "throw him up".

Even still, in the majority of the videos the youth do not appear to be speaking out against Christianity as a whole. They seem most affected by the sense of betrayal gained from losing their parents; who are supposed to love and accept them. Each describes a sense of shock, or guilt, or self-hatred bestowed upon them due to their parents religious oppression. Siciliano ends his essay with a call for change, saying:

We need to recognize that the condemnation of LGBT people in churches leads to the abuse and rejection of LGBT children in far too many Christian homes. As Christians, commanded to love one another, we need to demand that this climate of rejection stops.

It is important to note that it isn't Christianity, or religion in general, that is to blame but rather how both are being abused by parents of LGBT youth. Often, they are choosing to use their Christian beliefs as a cover to ostracize and abandon their children, instead of emphasizing the instances of unconditional love and acceptance of mankind that appear throughout scripture, especially Jesus' teaching.

During this time of the year it is easy to get caught up in the swell of candy eggs, cotton tails, and the first warming rays of spring.  Still, we shouldn't discard the fact that 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ; many of whom forced into their current condition due to familial rejection. For anyone unsure of how to deal with a family member who identifies as LGBT, there are organizations that are willing to help as a way to make sure these relatives to not feel forced out onto the street.

You can see more videos below.

 

Featured Story

GLAAD launched the countdown to Spirit Day, the largest and most visible anti-bullying campaign in the world that supports LGBT youth.