Ending Gay and Transgender Youth Homelessness: Interview with Jama Shelton

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Mark Horvath 1 1Many of you know me as a follower of Jesus and those of you that have been paying attention also know me as a “straight ally”. To me, I actually believe both of those descriptions of me are connected.  I know many faith based organizations are frantically scrambling to come up with a LGBT position, which I think is silly because as Christians we should be extending unconditional love and compassion to everyone – EVERYONE!

My journey over the last few years has provided me with many experiences, but probably the most life-changing was when I spent a few hours with 20 or so new transgender friends at  TRANS: THRIVE.  Homosexuality is not a “lifestyle”! People are born gay! It freaks me out and actually pisses me off that families kick their kids out for “coming out” and being honest about who they really are!

Imagine you’re a young teenager and for as long as you remember you feel different than everyone around you. After years of trying to “fit in” and playing pretend, you finally decide to be open and honest about your sexual preference or gender identity with the people closest to you. Then, when you tell your parents, they kick you out of the house and out into the streets.  More than 1 in 4 children and youth are thrown out of their homes making family conflict the biggest issue causing youth homelessness today. The numbers are staggering. Each year, between 500,000 and 1.6 million youth in the U.S. are homeless or runaways. [1]

A few years back Cyndi Lauper co-founded The True Colors Fund to help raise awareness and bring an end to LGBT youth homelessness. From that the Forty to None Project was created and I especially love their Give  Damn Campaign. I have been following @FortytoNone on twitter for some time, and then at this years SXSW I saw a tweet that Forty to None Project Director, Jama Shelton, was speaking and jumped at the chance to met her.  As luck would have it, Jama and I connected for some coffee and this short video interview.

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