Friday, July 11, 2014

Story Behind the Story - Part 2: Alone #SavingLiam #LGBT #MMRomance

Welcome to the second and final part of the story behind my book Saving Liam. You can find part one here.

Today's post will rely heavily on your imagination because what I'm going to describe may be something you don't typically let yourself dwell on for long. Today I want you to take a minute and dwell on it.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Imagine you're on your own. Totally on your own. Your home is gone and with it your family, something you never think about because it hurts too much. You have a few people you still consider friends but they're rapidly becoming part of the past because none of them was in a position to help you and you had no choice but to move on. 

You used to have a room full of mementos and treasures but that's all gone now. All that's left is in an overstuffed school backpack weighing you down with each step. There was a suitcase of other things in the beginning but you couldn't carry it anymore so you left it behind. You haven't eaten in two days. You haven't slept in almost as long. Showers aren't important when we're talking survival. The three dollars you had in your wallet when you left home was spent on your last meal at a fast food restaurant. You don't know how long it will be before you see another one because your money is gone and you can't bring yourself to eat out of trash bins. You could beg for change like you've seen others do but you don't quite have the nerve to ask strangers for help. Hungry, exhausted, scared, and brokenhearted you walk because there's nothing else to do.

Now...imagine you're fourteen years old. 

A week ago, you were a teen with a secret whose biggest problem (outside of keeping it) was passing history. Five days ago, you told your best friend you were gay. Four days ago, the rest of the school found out when she posted it on Facebook. Three days ago, your parents greeted you at breakfast with a screaming tirade about sin, hell, and the evil they wouldn't tolerate living in their house. Three days ago, your life ended. What you have now is mere survival.

This is reality for thousands of LGBT kids all across the globe, in your city, in your neighborhood. One day they're living an almost typical life of a stressed-out teen. The next the people they depend on to take care of them can't stand the sight of them and they learn how quickly love becomes a useless word and how few BFFs they really have because everywhere they turn for help is another dead end.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

It's easy to gloss over the picture and soothe the heartache it inspires with the thought that there are shelters. There are organizations. Someone will take these kids in. Wrong. There are shelters but most of them are just as anti-LGBT as the parents who threw the kids out. If they can't hide their sexuality or gender identity well enough they'll be turned away. 

Even here in Seattle, a very LGBT friendly place, the number of LGBT kids on the street is in triple digits. The number of available beds is in double digits. The number of available Trans* beds is less than 20. Most of these kids have nowhere to go. Their parents' sentence is final and in many cases fatal. They die of starvation, exposure, violence, overdose, suicide, even the flu because going to a hospital means questions by adults who seem to exist only to make their life worse. They'd rather lie on the cold sidewalk and take their chances than risk a hospital. 

They eat out of dumpsters because soup kitchens are a nice idea but they cater to the adult homeless and that population is full of predators. Ever wonder why you never see kids hanging out with the homeless adults? That's why. They don't frequent the same parts of the city because the kids know it's not safe. When it comes to finding food they're own their own because few organizations cater to starving teens. Seattle has two, a non-profit and a church. That puts us way ahead of most other cities in the US.

Even Toronto, a city that hosted the first ever World Pride in North America admits 20 percent of their homeless teens are unwanted LGBT kids. That's 50 percent less than the US but that's still a huge problem. It's out of control but it's also deceptively invisible. The teens maintain a low profile in order to survive. Adults create problems, complicate already bad situations, increase the risk of being hurt...even the police, so they stay out of sight. It gives the impression that it's a small problem. It's not. There are 1.3 million homeless kids in the States. That equates to 520,000 LGBT kids. 520,000 sets of parents who don't give a damn what happens to their child because they think LGBT kids don't deserve to be loved.

I wrote Saving Liam because their story needs a face. The daily struggle for survival is all they know and every year thousands of them don't make it. Liam's story is a relatively innocuous one by comparison. Most kids don't have it so easy and his life wasn't all that easy. Very few of them stumble across a savior to pull them out of that mess. They struggle through on their own and graduate from homeless teen to homeless adult with no education, no permanent address, and no qualifications to get a job other than as a sex worker or drug dealer for a local gang.

It's not a happy story but it's reality and it needs to be heard.

You do what you have to do to survive.
Click here for your copy.

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