Recent news is filled with victories for LGBT rights. The federal government repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell allowed a nation of men and women to begin serving their country openly and proudly; Washington and Maryland passed legislation to join the other six states (plus Washington DC) that validate loving same-sex relationships with marriage equality; and this month in Chicago, Vida/SIDA opened the Midwest's first homeless shelter targeting LGBT youth, El Rescate.
While gay men and women can now fight for their homes and same-sex couples are gaining acceptance and building homes together, LGBT youth across the nation are struggling to find a home. This issue is as old as the Gay Rights Movement itself. Reports from New York in 1969 identify many of the famous Stonewall Inn's patrons as teenage runaways. These homeless youth joined together with the transvestites that also populated the bar that night some 43 years ago to take a stand that many gay men and lesbians of the time would have been afraid to take.
In the subsequent years, however, homeless LGBT youth were marginalized by the mainstream fight for gay rights. Today, they make up a large proportion of the homeless youth, but until recently there was nowhere in Chicago that specifically catered to their needs.
"The problem was that there wasn't an institution providing culturally competent services," said Juan Calderon, the Director of Vida/SIDA and one of the men behind El Rescate. "We had to take it on."
Read more of Anthony Morgano's feature here.