Gay Immigrant Youth in New York Struggle With Homelessness

Published: February 23, 2011

NEW YORK—Juan Valdez vividly recalls the night he left home.

“I grabbed a whole bunch of black plastic bags, packed all of my things, and went to my best friend’s house. And, I mean, what else could I do? I was 16, I didn’t know how to do anything,” Juan said.

Juan was kicked out of his house when he revealed to his parents that he was gay.

Adrielle Grant has a similar story.

“I moved down to New York with [my mom], and like two weeks into the move she found out that I was gay,” Adrielle said.  “The drama started and she kicked me out.” Adrielle (who changed his name from Leroy) was 18 when he became homeless.

The most recent survey of runaway and homeless youth in New York estimates that, each night, a minimum of 3,800 youth are homeless, more than half of whom identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Within the overall homeless youth population, 15 percent were born outside of the U.S. mainland.  Advocates say much of the immigrant homeless youth population identifies as lesbian, gay, transgender or bisexual (LGBT).

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