Seattle musical icon Macklemore joined YouthCare at Sunday’s Seattle Pride Parade to help raise awareness about LGBTQ youth homelessness. YouthCare’s parade entry was generously sponsored by Titan.
A staggeringly disproportionate 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, and many LGBTQ youth experience homelessness after being rejected from their families. YouthCare provides a range of specialized services to help homeless youth, including YouthCare’s Isis House, the region’s only housing program dedicated specifically to the needs of LGBTQ homeless youth.
Sunday’s parade marked the 40th anniversary of Seattle Pride as well as the 40th anniversary of YouthCare’s own founding, as the first shelter for runaway and homeless youth on the west coast. YouthCare staff, clients, volunteers, board members, and other community members welcomed the opportunity to share information with the crowd about YouthCare’s work, the needs of our community’s homeless youth, and resources available to young people in need of help.
“We see homeless young people every single day who have been kicked out of their homes or have experienced tremendous violence or trauma as a result of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” says YouthCare’s Executive Director Melinda Giovengo. “We need to do more to support our community’s LGBTQ children and young adults so they are not ending up homeless. No young person should come out, and pay for that honesty with having to survive life on the streets.
Macklemore’s appearance at the Seattle Pride Parade underscores the importance of this message. “I was honored to join YouthCare at the Seattle Pride Parade,” he said. “I am moved by the spirit and fortitude of the homeless youth and young adults they serve. Too many LGBTQ youth face the streets after they come out to their families. YouthCare helps them stabilize, build a future, and celebrate who they are. I am proud to lend my voice to our community and YouthCare’s important work.”
Youth homelessness is a significant problem in our community. Last year’s Count Us In effort identified 779 homeless youth and young adults in King County on one night in January, including 124 young people who were sleeping outside. Twenty-two percent of these youth self-identified as LGBTQ, a number that experts suggest is an undercount, as youth are reluctant to share this personal information publically. National studies have indicated that up to 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ.
There are many ways for the community to help support YouthCare’s work including hosting a drive for needed items, volunteering, or making a donation. For more information, please visit www.youthcare.org.