“Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.” – Washington Irving
The decorations are up. Packages have been wrapped. Candles have been lit. Food prepared. Families have gathered and will share in the joys of the season. For many, it’s the highlight of the year. For others, it is not.
For many in the LGBT community, this time of year is a painful reminder that irrational fears and misunderstandings have torn apart their family. In the worst cases, gay and lesbian youth have been kicked out of their homes by the very people who are supposed to love and support them unconditionally. Young people like Kadeem Swenson.
At the age of 16, Kadeem was kicked out of his Waldorf, MD home by his own parents, after he came out as gay. Featured in two Washington Blade news stories in the last year, Kadeem lived for months in an abandoned apartment building with no electricity or running water, before getting a space at the Wanda Alston House for LGBT youth. Sadly, there are too many kids like Kadeem, and too few resources to support them.
Here at PFLAG, we wonder, ‘Why not prevent the homelessness to begin with?” What if Kadeem’s parents reacted differently? Did they know that they could reach out for help? What if they actually learned that negative images of gays and lesbians are myths perpetuated out of irrational fear and ignorance? If they came to realize that 16 year old Kadeem was the exact same young man as 15 year old Kadeem, perhaps there would have been one less homeless youth on the streets.
If we can change the hearts and minds of parents, it goes to reason that they would continue to love and support their child just the same as they did before they came out.
We HAVE to get better, honest, and comprehensive information into the hands of these parents. We HAVE to reach out to offer support at these parents go through their own journey of discovery. We HAVE to let them know that they are not alone, and that there is help for them too.
And we need YOUR help.
What makes PFLAG great is that we are the epitome of grass-roots. We’re not a major corporation-style organization. We’re mom and dads. We’re aunts and uncles. We’re sons, daughters, friends, neighbors and coworkers. We depend on each other for guidance and support. That includes your financial contributions.
As you make you final preparations for the holidays, and the end of the year, won’t you also help Metro DC PFLAG prepare to continue our mission in 2012? If you have not yet renewed your annual membership, please do so. If you have, please consider demonstrating your continued support with an additional gift.
Education and support – That’s two-thirds of our mission at PFLAG. Therefore, PFLAG can and must play a critical role in ending LGBT youth homelessness, by preventing it in the first place.
Can we count on your help?
Wishing you all the blessings of the holiday season,
The Board of Metro DC PFLAG