All Access: Taking in homeless LGBT youth for a living

All this week, GLAAD is sharing some of the stories behind the GLAAD Southern Stories campaign, which aims to tell the stories of LGBT people and their allies in the American South. Take a look at the story of the Lost-n-Found Youth organization in Atlanta, Georgia.

This week, Rick Westbrook, co-founder and executive director of Lost-n-Found Youth, sat down on GLAAD's video series, GLAAD: All Access, to talk about taking in homeless LGBT youth for a living. Lost-n-Found Youth is a non-profit organization providing temporary housing, job search assistance, counseling, and other services to homeless LGBT youth.

Last month, GLAAD recognized the newest board member of Lost-n-Found Youth, Daniel Ashley Pierce, a 20-year-old gay man, who was the subject of a viral video showing the violent reaction of his family members after he came out to them. Pierce is the first former client of Lost-n-Found Youth to join the organization's Board of Directors. His appointment is part of a larger effort to bring broad perspectives and skills to the organization's leadership. GLAAD recognized Pierce at GLAAD Atlanta, a celebration of national and local leaders advancing LGBT equality through the media. The event raised critical funds in support of GLAAD’s year-round work to rewrite the script for LGBT equality, featuring a special surprise appearance by football player Michael Sam.

After the video of Pierce coming out to his family--only to be verbally and physically attacked by them--went viral, he received nearly $100,000 in donations to help support him and keep him off the streets. Now Pierce is using the money to work with Lost-n-Found Youth to build a new shelter for LGBT homeless youth that will triple the capacity of the organization's current shelter.

"Lost-n-Found was there for support from the earliest moments and they stepped in before I ever got to the first critical 48 hours of homelessness," said Pierce. "Their quick response is proof that there is a safe place in Atlanta for youth like me to turn to for support. Even though my personal story was extreme, I hope my experiences can continue the dialogue about GLBTQ youth homelessness and get people off the street by engaging the community."

GLAAD's Claire Pires interviewed Westbrook as part of GLAAD Southern Stories, which aims to elevate the experiences of LGBT people in six of the nation's southern states. The initiative amplifies stories of LGBT people thriving in the South, ongoing discrimination, as well as the everyday indignities endured by LGBT people who simply wish to live the lives they love.

Find out more about Lost-n-Found Youth in Atlanta at

UPDATE: Another organization serving the needs of LGBT Youth in Atlanta is CHRIS Kids. However, people connected with both organizations have stressed to GLAAD that the needs of homeless youth far outpaces the capacity. To learn more about a nation-wide campaign to address youth homelessness, check out the National Campaign for Youth Shelter.