Main | Monday, November 24, 2008

Guest Post - Carl Siciliano
Executive Director, Ali Forney Center

At the Ali Forney Center we work hard to provide a holiday season of joy for the homeless LGBT youth who come to us for help. Many of our kids find this season challenging; it's getting colder outside, and they really feel the pain of being rejected by their families during a time that so emphasizes family togetherness. We try to show the kids as much love and warmth as we can, cooking holiday feasts, and giving as many presents as we can pull together.

Usually, this is the time of year when we receive the most support from the community. But this year I am in a panic. Corporate and foundation grants have dried up since September, and most of our government contracts are late in reimbursing us. Our bank account is empty, and our line of credit has been depleted. I am laying awake at night worrying about our overdue utility bills, and how to pay the December rents on our eight shelter apartments. More than ever before, I need the generosity and goodness of our community in order to provide for our kids.

If parents refuse to love and provide for their LGBT kids, then it is up to us, the LGBT community, to see that they are protected and nurtured. I am deeply moved as I see our kids struggle to overcome the cruelty and inhumanity they experienced when they came out. As I watch them struggle to rebuild their lives I see them as symbols for how all of us struggle to overcome homophobia and live proud and open lives.

As we approach Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the accomplishments of our kids. I think of Andre, who recently graduated from NYU and received a full scholarship to study dance at the Alvin Ailey School, and of Lamont, who was profiled in the Daily News for his courage in founding the first LGBT student group at Medgar Evers College (they received so many threats from fellow students that the school posted guards outside their meeting room!).

I know these are tough times for many, but I still need to ask for help. Please help the Ali Forney Center give our kids the holidays they deserve. Online donations can be made at here.

Checks can be sent to the Ali Forney Center at the address below.

Thanks so much.

Carl Siciliano
Founder/Executive Director
Ali Forney Center
224 West 35th Street, Suite 1102
New York, NY 10001

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