Gay marriage was legalized in France last June. Homophobia, however, remains entrenched. But for young LGBT people whose homophobic families have kicked them out, a one-of-a-kind shelter in Paris is there to help.
There are a lot of people is this tiny room located in the quiet 20th district of Paris. The crowd is cheerful and diverse, all of the people between 18 and 25 years old. Tonight, a meeting is being held to elect the local representative of Le Refuge – or, "The Shelter"- a home for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender youth.
"I’m here because my parents put me out, because I’m gay," said Samuel, a 19-year-old Parisian. "They are religious, and they don’t want to have a gay boy in their house. I lost my parents, my sister, my brother, grandparents and uncle… all my family. They said, ‘He’s gay, the devil’s in my son.’ They moved, they changed lives, they changed numbers, they changed everything. It’s really hard."
For a week, Samuel wandered the streets, unsure where to go. Then a friend told him about Le Refuge, a temporary shelter for young victims of homophobia. The organization, which receives government support, was founded by Nicolas Noguier in 2003. Since its creation, it has helped around 500 people with its network of 55 flats across France.
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