WHEN YOU HAVE NO HOME

Hope for Homeless Teens, by Rich Paschall

Yesterday we presented a fictional story about a gay teen tossed out of his home.  The story is based — in part — on elements I know to be true. Many other true stories of teens exist; kids tossed out by parents or who leave home in fear for their safety.

Where do they go?  What happens when you are a teenager and homeless?  Where is there hope?

Corey Nichols, a 15-year-old, became sick and was ignored by his parents who suspected he was gay.  He became desperate and suicidal. A friends’ mother rescued him, and she and her husband nursed him back to health.  When the boy returned home after the absence, he admitted he was gay but the episode took a scary turn.

The Gaily Grind reports “Corey claims when his parents and brother tried breaking down the bedroom door, he took refuge in the bathroom. After they had gone to sleep, he slipped out of the house, never to return again.”  The friend’s parents took him in and adopted him.  Corey’s biological parents did not contest the adoption.

“I want the world to know that Corey is a beautiful human being,” Mindy, Corey’s new mom, told Out In Santa Cruz. ”I want the world to see Corey’s pain and know it is not necessary.”

Last fall The Huffington Post reported the story of Georgia teen Daniel Ashley Pierce.  He came out in 2013 but last year the parents tried to intervene, and it became violent.  The episode was caught on this shaky home video here.  Daniel stated on his Facebook: “to add insult to injury my step mother punched me in the face repeatedly with my grandmother cheering her along.”  Warning:  The video contains graphic content.

A friend posted the video and a Go Fund Me page to help with living expenses.  The video went viral, and there was an outpouring of support.  Daniel got his start and has since directed donations to Atlanta’s Lost N Found, a not-for-profit agency that help homeless LGBTQ youth.

Last September Rolling Stone reported on the rising number of gay teens being tossed out by “highly religious” parents. The article states: “The Center for American Progress has reported that there are between 320,000 and 400,000 homeless LGBT youths in the United States.”  The figure may reflect (partly) youth coming out at an earlier age, encouraged by social media success stories.  Unfortunately, many coming out stories do not turn out well.

This “hidden epidemic” of homeless gay teens is quite troubling to Carl Siciliano, founder of the Ali Forney Center, the largest organization dedicated to homeless LGBTQ teens. “I feel like the LGBT movement has been asleep at the wheel when it comes to this,” he told Rolling Stone. “We haven’t been fighting for economic resources. How many tax dollars do gay people contribute? What percentage of tax dollars comes back to our gay kids? We haven’t matured enough as a movement yet that we’re looking at the economics of things.”

So it is a variety of organizations across the country that are dealing with this growing problem. Since gay is “unacceptable” in so many communities, we literally have a generation of gay children without homes.

Point Foundation:  The largest organization dedicated to providing scholarship money and support to LGBTQ students.  The need is great. However, they can only offer scholarships to 2 percent of the students who apply.

The Trevor Project: “The leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.”

It Gets Better Project: “The It Gets Better Project’s mission is to communicate to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth around the world that it gets better, and to create and inspire the changes needed to make it better for them.”

For more on any of the organizations mentioned above, just click on the name of the organization in the article.

Read more about the “hidden epidemic”: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/the-forsaken-a-rising-number-of-homeless-gay-teens-are-being-cast-out-by-religious-families-20140903#ixzz3WOcsK0WI
Follow: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

LIKE IT SHOULD BE

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Everything is as it should be. No matter how strange or bizarre, in the end, it’s right. It does not mean we are happy about the way our book of life is written.  Where is my shelf of bestsellers? My big house on the cliff overlooking the ocean? The hot little sports car and my horses?

I want what I want. To be richer, healthier, younger. I want my brother, a final conversation with my mother. I want my old friends to not live so far away. To live, period.

I want those things I buy to last forever. How many times do I have to buy a new refrigerator? Didn’t I just buy this one? Really? That long ago?

Somehow, it works out. It balances. You wind up in a place you never imagined being, but after a while, you realize it suits you.

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Good stuff can be subtle. Crises whack you upside the head. Hard to miss them.

Happiness is sneaky. It slithers into your world like a mist, gradually invading the darkness and filling it with sparkles. One day, you find you are singing as you go about your daily tasks.

“Oh,” you say. “I’m happy. How — when — did that happen?”

It’s never all up or all down. The coaster tosses you from side to side. You scream down the big drop and laugh as the chain pulls your car to the next peak. That’s the point of the ride, isn’t it?

I once stayed in a resort so far beyond my expectations, I was stunned. The weather, however, was hot and humid. We could barely bring ourselves to go out and do anything.

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The following year, we found ourselves in the most beautiful town on Cape Cod. We were near enough to the beach to see, hear, and smell the Atlantic. The room was horrible. The beds were hard. The bathroom was barely usable. But the weather was perfect, and the sun shone every day.

It’s okay to be sad. From sadness, we learn joy. We need darkness to understand light. (Remind me I said this!)


ALL IT’S CRACKED UP TO BE, when everything actually turned out exactly as you’d hoped. Or better. Or something else entirely.

IT’S THE JOURNEY

No project goes as planned. No vacation is perfect. Some part of every meal will not be ready when the rest of the dishes are served. Guests come early, late, leave too soon, or not soon enough. Complications, delays, bumps in the road are the companions to everything.

So many things almost happen. When I was newly back from Israel, I took a three-day weekend from my very new job to visit friends in San Diego. I bought a new weekend carry-on bag (I love luggage). Got tickets to San Diego — not easy because most cross-country flights out of Boston go to Oakland, SF, or LA — none of which are close to San Diego.

On local roads ...

I got to La Guardia airport, but the plane didn’t. I had a connecting flight in Salt Lake City. Four hours later, the plane was MIA. I demanded my money back

The perky young thing at the ticket counter explained, “These are non-refundable tickets. See? It says so right here. We can get you on a flight to Los Angeles tomorrow afternoon. How’s that?”

I was not feeling perky. More like an Arnold Schwarzenegger character about to do serious damage to an airport.

“I took a three-day weekend from work. I won’t get those hours back. I’m not interested in Los Angeles. It’s more than 3 hours drive from San Diego and I don’t have a car. By the time I got there — if I got there — I’d have to turn right around. I’ve had to spend money on taxis, lost my holiday time. All I got is a long afternoon in a waiting room. I want a plane to San Diego. Direct, nonstop because I already missed my connecting flight — or my money back. Now.”

I got the money. Took a taxi home. Spent the weekend feeling sorry for myself. Never made it San Diego and eventually lost touch with those friends.

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Our fondest illusion is control, that we’re the designers of our destiny. It’s the greatest promise we get as kids, and the biggest lie of all, that if we do “life” right, we can get what we want.

We know — because our teachers and our parents and everyone told us — that good work gets rewarded. Kindness will be returned. If we eat right, keep fit, exercise, avoid drugs, cigarettes and alcohol, we’ll be healthy forever. The bad things won’t happen to us. We will live happily ever after.

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From little stuff that goes wrong — flights cancelled, vacations rained out — to failed marriages and jobs lost, we get stripped of illusions. Injustice comes in an infinite variety of shapes and sizes, from tiny indignities to incomprehensible calamities. No one is immune.

Sooner or later, it becomes clear. We are passengers on the bus of life. We aren’t driving. We don’t even know what road we’re on, and have no idea of the destination. After a lifetime of trying to drive, I get it. The bus is going where it’s going. It is what it is.

It’s not where you end up. It’s a journey. I might as well enjoy it.


But No Cigar – Daily Prompt

A SHADE OF DIFFERENCE

What are your colors? by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Everyone has favorite colors. You can probably tell what someone likes by the colors in their home. People pick out the color for their rooms not just by the color, but the shade of color. Big home improvement stores will mix and match colors for you so you have just the right shade. They stock color palates and have little colored papers you can take with you while you stare at the walls and envision how it will look. Some will even give you a little sample so you can stare at a brush stroke you put on the wall and dream of a whole room in that color.

Blue is a nice color to me, but I would never paint the walls a dark blue, only pastels. As a matter of fact, there would be no deep dark colors in my home decorating, if you can call it that. Purples and dark greens certainly are too harsh anyway, but maybe they would appear on your walls. That’s fine for you. Who am I to judge you by your color selection?

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I like Hunter Green in the kitchen accessories, but not on the walls. Does that seem strange to you? For a number of years I found it the color of choice in Tupperware and kitchen utensils, but I would never paint with it. Never. Does that sound a little biased? If I found the sea green of your bathroom just a little too garish, would you hold it against me?

At a past place of employment I had a manager who wanted to paint his office a nice shade of lavender. If it was good enough for his bedroom, soothing and relaxing, then perhaps it would be good for his office. After all, the company said he could have any color he wanted. Unfortunately, there were those who did not like lavender, especially on office walls. He was derided for his choice of color. There were those that snickered behind his back. Some openly pointed out the folly of associating with such colors, and at work no less! The color of choice around the building seemed to be rather bland. You know the color, an off white that looks about the same no matter how long it is on the wall. This shade of lavender was…well, rather gay according to some people.  What does that say about a new manager? He was judged, but he was certainly straight (or as certain as I can be). Anyway, it was a nice shade.

This prejudice against color is not limited to the walls at home or the office. It goes well beyond the choice of furniture and the carpet on the floor. It is not just the accessories in your house or indeed anywhere in your life that gets judged. It has to do with all your color choices. Are my friends really judging me by the colors I choose?  If I chose white am I boring? If I choose black am I too gothic? If I choose lavender am I too gay? Perhaps this sounds just a bit ridiculous.

Yet, people choose their friends this way. They make instant judgments of the people they do not know by their shade of color. Ask just about anyone and they will have an opinion of these color choices. People can look across a crowded street and when they spot a person of another color, they formulate an instant opinion. Perhaps a person looks like a gangster, and you should avoid crossing the street. After all most people if that color are not to be trusted. Then there are those that are a certain shade of white that is different from my shade. Many people will quickly decide they are crooks, or they are greedy or they are shiftless. This is not just an issue between races, it is also an issue within a race. White people judge other white people and black people do the same. You do not think so? Ask around. Many have color palates for race that are far more discriminating than their choices of wall color.

When the turbulent civil rights era of the 1960’s appeared to tear down color barriers, and people of all shades of color were welcomed into every arena of business, society was pleased with the progress. While some laws seem to prohibit color choices, the fact is that color choices are as bad or worse than ever. The judgments are perpetuated by social media prejudices and Fake News reports that are meant to push people to the left, right, middle and anywhere else they can separate themselves from others. “Progressive” radio, “Patriot” radio, “Conservative” radio, “Liberal” radio all highlight the difference between us and “them.” If you don’t think “them” frequently means another color, listen more closely. If you think that many of these talk and Fake News shows hate the President of the United States because he is black, you may be on the right track.

The proliferation of these judgments by everyone from politicians and so-called newsmen to the average person on-line, based largely on color, means that the color scheme that is the world today is more divided than ever. We may no longer be segregated by law, but we are now segregated by personal choices. Many can not find it in their hearts to celebrate the different shades of life we all have to offer. They only want certain colors to be approved for the walls they put up in their own existence. Perhaps this sounds just a bit ridiculous, because it is.

So we’re different colours
And we’re different creeds
And different people have different needs.
It’s obvious you hate me
Though I’ve done nothing wrong
I’ve never even met you so what could I have done?

For 10 Song About Racism That Don’t Suck, check out all the videos on flavorwire.com  You won’t see some of the hip-hop songs of today that deal with race, but you may recognize some of the rock songs of other eras.  The 10th song on the list is the harsh vision of the old South by Billie Holiday performing Strange Fruit.

LOVE IN OLDER WAYS

Love is a big bouquet of dark red roses on my birthday and a WRITER sweatshirt that I said I wanted.

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Love is hauling my tired old butt into the kitchen every night to make a tempting meal, even though the last thing I want to do is cook. Because he won’t eat if I don’t prepare dinner.

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Love is remembering the great times we had and being satisfied because we did what we wanted and enjoyed it completely.

Love is watching movies you don’t much like and sports you barely understand so you can have something to talk about.

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Love is him learning the new geeky computer-speak ’cause if he doesn’t, he can’t talk to my in my language.

Love is driving me all over the place because I’m not up to driving anymore.

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Love is realizing how ridiculous life is and laughing about it together.

Love is knowing you’re in the right place with the right guy. And being smart enough to realize how unbelievably lucky you are to have this man, who loves you, in your life.

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Love is being totally fed up with everything and still being happy because we are together and that’s enough.

(The dogs are great, too.)


I Want to Know What Love Is

290 – OTHER AND COMPARATIVE RELIGIONS

THE DEWY DECIMAL SYSTEM – THE BLACKLIGHT CANDELABRA

In response to Bumblepuppies prompt on Blacklight Candelabra, I created a three 3-digit number. I visited this Dewey Decimal System website and found the subject which matched my number. I got lucky.


I cheated. A little bit. I used my address, which is three digits. And hit a bulls-eye. My favorite subject for mental meandering and an occasional rant.

Number 290 — Other & Comparative Religion

We waste a lot of time trying to figure out what life means. We don’t waste nearly enough time doing what we enjoy … which in my opinion, is the meaning — or at least the point — of life. Most people think religion has something to do with it. I was taught there are two ways to approach religion:

1) It’s a formalized set of beliefs to which a bunch of people adhere. (William James)

2) It’s the center of you, most “propriate” — central — to your “self.” (Orlo Strunk)

I’ve always gone with door number two wherein religion isn’t a set of beliefs, rules, and guidelines — no matter how many people claim to follow it. It isn’t what someone says at a pulpit on Saturday or Sunday. It’s how you live, what you are. If you are a miserable, mean-spirited bastard, I don’t care how often you attend church, synagogue, or mosque, you are the way you are. Your religion is you.

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Most of us are essentially self worshippers. We may include others in our closest (most propriate) circle. A life mate, kids, pets, closest friends. Maybe dedication to an art — writing, painting, music. Or making money and accumulating stuff. Regardless, our inner core is our religion. It’s what gives life meaning.

Life is rarely what we want or expect. Never what we believe we deserve. So you gotta wonder if the reason you are sick, broke, or miserable is because you lack faith or failed to adhere to those Higher Laws. Yet if you look around, you’ll see many folks with faith aplenty whose lives are a train wreck. They explain it by saying “God has a plan.” I’m not going to argue if there’s a plan, but I question if said plan has anything to do with me.

I’ve put decades of thought into why my life keeps falling apart. I’m not perfect, but whatever I’ve done wrong, it’s small potatoes in the scheme of things. It’s hard for me to believe, even in my darkest moments, I’m so wicked The Big Guy has in for me. Personally.

One day, I realized I had my answer. Life is random. There is no meaning except what you give it. If you give nothing to life, life will give nothing back.

Whether what you put into your life is based on principles espoused by a “formal” religion” (per William James), or is what you hold in your heart (per Orlo Strunk), you know everything you need to know. Mostly, you know right from wrong because you were born knowing it. You know what you love, what you care about. You can now move about the cabin. Make your choices without expecting reward or punishment.

Life doesn’t make sense. Never has, never will. You don’t “do the right thing” because it will earn you a reward or a ticket to heaven. You do right because it’s right. Life will probably screw you over anyway, but not because you chose wrong. Merely because life is like that.

If believing in a loving God makes you feel good, believe it. It could be true. If it turns out you’re right, you’ve backed a winner. If believing there is no God floats your boat, go with that.  Whatever you do, I hope it makes you happy. Take your best shot. Whatever awaits at the end of the line, the one sure thing is today. Pity to waste it.

MERELY LIVING

DAILY PROMPT: ME TIME — What’s your ideal Saturday morning? Are you doing those things this morning? Why not?


I woke up this morning. I did my physical checklist. Did anything hurt more than usual? Less? Breathing okay? Everything was working as well (or better) than usual, so I put a bit more effort into “me” than usual, weeding through eyebrows until I found an arch. Not as nice as the lady in town creates with her wax, but weather has made going anywhere a hassle. I haven’t gotten to town more than a couple of times all month.

I made it to the kitchen and did my Alpha Bitch thing. The dogs obediently (with just a bit of back talk) went outside to do whatever business they needed to conduct. By the time they got back, I was cleaning.

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It’s not that I don’t clean. It’s that I need inspiration and energy. I had a little of both and I cleaned the places around the sink that don’t get cleaned because they are behind or under something. I did the sink, scrubbed the water dishes, refilled them … all the while hearing heavy breathing and the click-clack of excited toenails on linoleum.

The dogs were swirling with energy. Admittedly, I was slow with biscuits. The longer I take, the more worked up they get. Finally, finished, I pivoted to face the fur people. “Huffa, huffa, huffa,” they said. You’d think no one ever feeds them.

“Liars,” I tell them. They huff some more. Bonnie does her happy dance, leaping up and down until finally, I distribute a Greenie and a crunchy to each. Do they think if they don’t do their routine, I won’t give them their treats?

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I’ve been up a while. Coffee is emitting little hisses of steamy satisfaction. I straighten the sofa. Bishop has been sleeping on it. He knows he isn’t allowed, but his interpretation is “what she/he doesn’t know doesn’t count” and makes sure he is off before Garry or I gets to the end of the hallway. Sometimes his timing is off and he gets caught in “flagrante delicto” so to speak. He leaves huge tufts of hair behind, so it’s not hard to figure out. Not to mention (but I will mention it) he rearranges the coverlets, pulling them off and putting them in a pile more to his liking. Bishop has the soul of an interior decorator. A hairy decorator with limited taste.

Eventually, seated, with a cup of coffee in hand, I turn on the computer and my day begins.

Today is Saturday. We are retired, so everyday is much the same as it was yesterday and will be tomorrow. Soon, Garry will join me. We’ll share quiet time, sifting through our email, answering and writing comments. It’s my favorite part of the day. Quiet, friendly, low stress. Whatever hassles the rest of the day may bring, morning is our time to decompress.

It’s life. Unsegmented into “me time” or “he time.” Life does not have sections. I don’t own a piece of the day, nor does Garry. I supposed you might say the dogs own all of it because they own us — but that’s another story.