I was simply moved by this letter from a single father, writing from his own experience on the issue of homelessness and sexuality. Too often we (and the media, at home and abroad) view the much-discussed issue of homosexuality – and homelessness – through a very narrow lens. The issues are complex and inter-connected. This letter is not only touching – but to me – as a parent myself – it just makes sense.
This was published in the Jamaica Observer. The link is here: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Parents-make-kids-homeless_14870088#ixzz2c4SjZDdu
It is really a disappointment how we continue to miss the mark and ‘the bigger picture’. The excitement surrounding the eviction of the homosexual men has subsided. And many believe, for one reason or the other, they should have been evicted as they were being a nuisance to community members. However, it is clear these men were homeless before occupying that abandoned building, hence their return after being evicted the first time. It was also evident that these men needed somewhere to reside, so they made the best of the deplorable conditions of said house.
While conducting some business in the Half-Way-Tree area last week, I was approached by a group of ‘street boys’ asking for money to buy something to eat. I gave what I had and suggested that they pool whatever they “earned” to cook a meal. One of the older boys simply said, “We nuh have nuh weh fi cook it, sir.”
As a single father, not only was I disappointed at the state these young boys were in, but also found it strange that these minors, who conceivably must have some relatives somewhere, did not have a place to prepare a basic meal.
A few weeks ago, my 17-year-old son was brave enough to tell me he was gay. I was shocked more so at his confession and his courage to come out, especially with me being a single father. And while I thought about the many negative experiences that he will be exposed to, I knew if I booted him from my home and shut him out of my life they would be worse, maybe even fatal like Dwayne Jones. I am grateful for never having to worry about him being a “nuisance” to anyone, and that he has someone he can talk to who is interested in his well-being.
This is not the case, however, for many LGBT people, who are often chastised as rowdy and disgraceful, or the street boys who are rude to motorists and pedestrians alike, when their demands aren’t met.
Why are we allowing the issue of homelessness to be viewed as a condition of sexuality? How do these parents sleep at night, knowing their sons and daughters have nowhere to call home?
Without a doubt, we are allowing our prejudices to deliberately victimise one of the most vulnerable sets of people in our society. It has to stop, and we must do more to protect our homeless and equip them with rehabilitative social skills and tools. And we must demand more from those who are entrusted with the protection of the most vulnerable people in our society.
And a final message from John and Yoko (my message of the week, I think):
- Evicting the Homeless is not the Solution (petchary.wordpress.com)
- Jamaica strategy: Evict homeless gay men again and again (76crimes.com)
- Urge Cities to Assist LGBTQ Homeless (forcechange.com)
- Nas Launches Campaign To Raise $20,000 For Homeless Single Father With Seven Kids (madamenoire.com)