Teenagers can have a tough time finding a place to be celebrated for being who they are. As a LGBTQ youth, you might be looking for a safe environment to share your experience, connect with others and prepare for the future. Fortunately, in Manhattan, there are many spaces offering support for LGBT youth in NYC.
Supporting a Growing LBGTQ Community
The Center is a great place to start. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center has been providing a home for NYC’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth community since 1989. Join a community of young people, between the ages of 13 and 21, who want to understand what makes you unique and help affirm that you matter. You don’t have to pick a label at The Center.
Whether you want to attend a dance or open mic night, join a gaming group, or sing in the Youth Pride Chorus, The Center is a safe place to feel connected and make friends. The Center also offers individual, group, family and drop-in support services as well as crisis intervention and has many connections to other youth resources.
"Before coming to The Center, I was embarrassed of who I was…Now, I’m more aware of my surroundings, better able to communicate with people in my life, and have truly found myself along the way…I’m not giving up on myself!” — DD Center Community member
The struggle to be accepted can have dire consequences for some young people. According to a Center study, LGBT youth in New York City are 10 times more likely to use methamphetamine than their heterosexual counterparts. They are also seven times more likely to use heroin, and six times more likely to use Ecstasy and cocaine.
"We've seen a lot of young people come to us really struggling with substance use,” said Glennda Testone, The Center’s executive director. “But if we work with the stressors in people’s lives, acknowledge their full identities and full selves, they’re more likely to do better and to feel better, and that's our goal."
Another struggle for LGBTQ youth is finding a safe place to be. Studies have found that LGBTQ youth comprise up to 40% of the homeless youth population in New York City.
Homeless LGBTQ youth can escape the streets at the Ali Forney Drop-in-Center in Harlem. Offering food, medical care, health service and more the Drop-In Center creates a supportive community for youth aged 16 - 24. You can find the support you need to live a healthy and independent life in NYC.
Empowering Young People
New York City is a tough city, but the Door helps a diverse group of disconnected youth to succeed in school, work and in life. Offering health, mental health, legal, career and education resources, The Door’s mission is to help youth meet their highest potential. LGBTQ members can also take advantage of individual and group or crisis counseling, creative arts therapy.
"Before I found The Door I was stuck…Now, it’s changing for the better. You cant have hate if you come to a place like this. Especially if you have love coming at you.” — Andrew, The Door member
The Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI) also provides support to NYC’s LGBT youth through job readiness programs, academic enrichment, arts & culture programming, counseling and other health and wellness services. If you’re between 13 and 24 years of age you can become a youth member. Membership, the HMI says on its website, “gives you a safe place to join other LGBTQ youth in programs that will lift you up, help you learn, and let you express yourself.”
Or, if you are looking for support of your feisty interest in advocating for LGBTQ youth, check out FIERCE. The LGBTQ youth of color-led organization organizes grassroots campaigns in NYC to make the community safer. Through its Education for Liberation Project, the group has trained over 350 LGBTQ youth of color leaders to fight for social justice causes. FIERCE also holds film screenings and Let’s Politik events to enhance political education among LGBTQ youth of color.
So be excited to shine and be who you are. These supportive organization and programs are a great starting point for LBGT Youth in NYC to find a safe space and foster your self-esteem and life skills.
Brown, J. (2015, July 6). LGBT youth treatment program aims to serve growing need in NYC. http://www.addictionpro.com/article/lgbt-youth-treatment-program-aims-serve-growing-need-nyc
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