LGBTQ Connect provides services for homeless San Franciscans

Recently, Rolling Stone published an extensive article shedding light on the plight of homeless LGBT youth. In addition to providing individual's stories of experiencing homelessness, they shared some dire statistics—LGBT individuals make up roughly five percent of the youth population in America, yet 40 percent of the homeless-youth population. According to a 2013 report by the Center for American Progress, there are between 320,000 and 400,000 homeless LGBT youths in the United States.

Last year in San Francisco—a city with gravely disparate living circumstances—there were 7,350 youth and adults experiencing homelessness, 30 percent of whom identified as LGBT, according to the 2013 San Francisco Homeless Count and Survey. With almost half of the homeless population avoiding or being denied shelter due to conditions including violence, racism, homophobia, and transphobia, grassroots initiatives have attempted to address this plight with varying success.

LGBTQ Connect aims to address the needs of San Franciscans who are experiencing homelessness and identify as LGBTQ by hosting multiple events a year in a safe space, the San Francisco LGBT Center. The first event, held last October, included over eighty city service agencies to provide safety net services to the LGBT community. LGBTQ Connect is a 'one-stop-shop,' where individuals can find everything from essentials, like DMV identification and dental care, to things that many take for granted as luxuries, such as free books, a professional portrait booth, and even massages.

LGBTQ Connect is sponsored by Blue Shield California, and presented in partnership with Project Homeless Connect, the Mayor's Office for Housing Opportunity, Partnerships, and Engagement, the AIDS Housing Alliance, and the San Francisco LGBT Community Center.

Each LGBTQ Connect event provides life-changing services to around 2,000 LGBTQ homeless individuals, and the next is happening, fittingly, the day after Spirit Day, on October 17th, 2014, from 10:00am to 3:00pm at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center at 1800 Market Street.

Spread the word about this important one-day event, and if you are in the San Francisco area, you can still sign-up to volunteer the day of! Organizations and events such as these are vital for LGBT youth, who experience homelessness at higher rates than their peers. For those on the East Coast, the Hetrick-Martin Institute provides empowerment, education, and advocacy for LGBTQ youth—check out GLAAD's recent video about bullying with some of the Institute's youth here, and get involved raising awareness or volunteering where you can.