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Young, gay and homeless in L.A. County
December 22, 2010 3:05 PM   Subscribe


 
Whodathunk that the homeless would be able to rock that whole 'noughties hipster' look so well... This looks like a photomontage for Calvin Klein or Gap.

How do homeless people run a cellphone?
posted by metaxa at 3:19 PM on December 22, 2010


Hey boy! We're going camping in the park.
posted by Michael Pemulis at 3:21 PM on December 22, 2010


They said the cellphone had no service. It was just for the music stored in it.
posted by Pax at 3:22 PM on December 22, 2010


Whodathunk that the homeless would be able to rock that whole 'noughties hipster' look so well... This looks like a photomontage for Calvin Klein or Gap.

From the article:

Part of how they survive is by blending in. Police officers are quick to issue tickets, and the streets are full of predators.

The photos were taken by a professional photographer and published in the LA Times. You were expecting poorly composed photos with crappy flash lighting perhaps?

How do homeless people run a cellphone?

Pay as you go, perhaps. Lots of homeless people have cell phones.

And something like 25% of gay teens who tell their families get kicked out, or are abused and run away. So yes, they can be homeless.
posted by rtha at 3:27 PM on December 22, 2010 [13 favorites]


Be sure to check out the accompanying article: Gay And Homeless: In Plain Sight, A Largely Hidden Population.

Many homeless, young, gay men in L.A. end up hustling on Santa Monica Blvd. to survive. This brings to mind the documentary 101 Rent Boys which explores the West Hollywood hustler scene. As well, I am reminded of the film Johns, starring Elliott Gould, Lukas Haas, David Arquette and Terrence Howard [trailer || film on YouTube].
posted by ericb at 3:27 PM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


IANAD, but one picture seems to indicate one of the men has a case of herpes labialis.
posted by crunchland at 3:31 PM on December 22, 2010


This looks like a photomontage for Calvin Klein or Gap.

Hey boy! We're going camping in the park.

WTF!? If these kids have an income it's probably from selling drugs or, more likely, themselves, and I don't know of many people sleeping in homeless shelters to be cool and trendy. Maybe your hipster-hate is messing with your judgement.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 3:32 PM on December 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


OMG, they have cell phones and clothes! They can't really be poor.
posted by octothorpe at 3:38 PM on December 22, 2010 [19 favorites]


Did anyone else notice how in the comment section of the link, the word "Homosexual" was being censored as "****sexual"? I found that kind of chilling, especially considering the topic of the article.
posted by auto-correct at 3:38 PM on December 22, 2010


Chilling? No. It just indicates that the commenters on the LA Times use "homo" like an epithet, or at least the people who install the censoring software seem to think it is.

I find that the comment boards on local news sites seem to be plagued by the worst sort of trollish jackholes there are on the internet. The comments on WTOP news radio website here in DC are virtually useless in their unreadability. I guess if local newspapers and such can't afford to hire reporters, they certainly can't afford to pay people to moderate their sites.
posted by crunchland at 3:54 PM on December 22, 2010


Thanks for the links, ericb!
posted by kylej at 4:02 PM on December 22, 2010


One can classify by "type," as in "gay" in this post. But there are homeless veterans, homeless women who are veterans, Homeless people who lost homes, homeless addicted etc etc In fact, though, L.A. is considered the homeless capital of the United States. What is to be done?
posted by Postroad at 4:27 PM on December 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yea, I did this service project (circa 4 years ago) where I flew to South Africa (Kalahari Desert) to work with poor, underprivileged and malnourished children ranging from 8-20 years of age. Now, we were in the middle of no where of the Kalahari desert, and these kids had no food and walked around 10km to school barefoot in the mornings, yet many of them had cellphones and wore designer clothing.

Well, I suspect the clothes were just stolen from bigger cities and brought out to the desert, and probably a lot of them were fake, but, even though the kids had no food or shoes, they had cell phones. As it turns out cell phones are ridiculously cheap out there, or something. Or maybe they just stole the phones and the pay-as-you-go cards. I have no idea. But these kids had them. In the middle of no where of Africa. Kids who couldn't afford shoes! So yea, if these homeless kids in LA have working cellphones, I'm not surprised.
posted by carmel at 4:34 PM on December 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Whodathunk that the homeless would be able to rock that whole 'noughties hipster' look so well... This looks like a photomontage for Calvin Klein or Gap.

I highly recommend that you read the photo captions and the related article. You could learn a thing, or two.
"The city hipsters sipping expensive coffee and chatting on cellphones did not give a second look at the two young men cutting across a Hollywood courtyard on their way to bed down in a nearby park.

AJ, 23, and his boyfriend, Alex, 21, hide their blankets and duffel bags in bushes. They shower every morning at a drop-in center and pick out outfits from a closet full of used yet youthful attire.

'If I could be invisible, I would,' AJ said. 'I feel ashamed to admit that I'm homeless.'

Every year, hundreds of gay youths end up alone on the streets of Los Angeles County, where they make up a disproportionate share of the at least 4,200 people under 25 who are homeless on any given day."
posted by ericb at 4:46 PM on December 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


And something like 25% of gay teens who tell their families get kicked out, or are abused and run away. So yes, they can be homeless.

That sounds like an awful lot. Do you have any more information on that figure?
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 7:03 PM on December 22, 2010


Highlights from the comments section:

* Lady Gaga should get off her ass and help - she only likes privileged gays.
* The LGBT community should get off its ass and help.
* This is the first time I have ever been completely unimpressed with a photojournalism piece.
* The gay community is one of the richest - it should help more.
* The gay community exploits these kids through prostitution - making them further dependent on drugs.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:35 PM on December 22, 2010


Whodathunk that the homeless would be able to rock that whole 'noughties hipster' look so well... This looks like a photomontage for Calvin Klein or Gap.

If you think these kids are leading a life out of a Calvin Klein montage you either need to get out more or you need to shelve the catty quips and see reality as it is.
posted by blucevalo at 7:48 PM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


And something like 25% of gay teens who tell their families get kicked out, or are abused and run away. So yes, they can be homeless.

That sounds like an awful lot. Do you have any more information on that figure?


Here's more- 26% of gay and lesbian youth are forced to leave home because of conflicts over their sexual orientation.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:49 PM on December 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


If my hazy memory is correct, cellphone minutes have become a de facto currency in Africa, I would guess that much like the designer clothes, relatives in cities have given the kids cellphones so they can send them money in a safe relatively non-inflationary manner.
posted by fido~depravo at 7:50 PM on December 22, 2010


Here's more- 26% of gay and lesbian youth are forced to leave home because of conflicts over their sexual orientation. --- It's too bad that statistic is so old. It's apparently based on a government report published back in 1989... longer ago than even the now defunct DADT law was enacted. Considering the sea-change of public attitudes towards gays in the military since 1993, I wonder whether the statistic you cited is still the case.
posted by crunchland at 8:11 PM on December 22, 2010


Here's more- 26% of gay and lesbian youth are forced to leave home because of conflicts over their sexual orientation.

And supposedly 28% of gay and lesbian teenagers drop out of high school, according to your source.

Don't trust numbers that seem tailor-made for an agenda.*

I mean, come on. I know life is tough, but do these kinds of numbers comport with your actual experience of the world at all? Not to mention the fact that the numbers you're quoting are from a Reagan-era study.

(*And no, I don't mean "the gay agenda" of homophobic social-conservative fame. I mean the no-doubt-well-meaning but extremely problematic gays-as-perpetual-victims agenda of certain no-doubt-well-meaning activist social scientists who fail to consider the flaws in their number-gathering.)
posted by fugitivefromchaingang at 8:14 PM on December 22, 2010


/end derail ... I feel a little uncomfortable with the photo essay. I mean, I get it - homeless gay youth are like the Platonic ideal of victims of society, and all... but the pictures without faces, without any specific identities, remind me of the photographs of obese people taken from the neck down (how shameful to be overweight!) or, even worse, of those photographs at the beginning of Milk, in which gay people being led out of underground gay bars by the police covered their faces so no one would see them in the newspapers.

This looks like a photomontage for Calvin Klein or Gap.

I thought so too. And that is not to say that I think these kids live the life of models. They very obviously don't, as the accompanying article makes quite clear. It's a comment on the photographer's work.
posted by fugitivefromchaingang at 8:28 PM on December 22, 2010


First time I've really wanted the img tag back.

*sigh*
posted by Space Kitty at 8:32 PM on December 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Young, gay and homeless in L.A. County...by Dennis Cooper, coming 2011.
posted by sixswitch at 9:02 PM on December 22, 2010


ThePinkSuperhero: Also on that page was this - "Approximately 30% of both the lesbian and gay male populations have problems with alcohol." and this "55% of gay men have had a substance abuse problem sometime in their life."

I'm pretty skeptical of those too. If they were published today, they'd sound a bit focus-on-the-familyish.
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 4:39 AM on December 23, 2010


"It's impossible to talk about youth homelessness without addressing one group that is disproportionately represented on the streets of America - young people who identify as LGBTQ. The combination of poverty and homophobia has proven lethal, and literally left thousands of youth doing whatever it takes to survive on the streets. These startling figures leave us asking one question: do homeless service providers and gay rights activists need to step up to the plate to advocate for this forgotten population?

This year, between 574,000 and 1.6 million youth will experience homelessness (read why that number is tough to pinpoint here), according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Of these homeless youth, 20 to 40 percent identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered, according to a 2007 study titled, 'Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth: An Epidemic of Homelessness' by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF).

Given the estimates that 2-3 percent of the American public identifies as LGBT, it's troubling that this population is so disproportionately represented on streets - and at such a young age. After coming out to their families, many are running away, being kicked out of their homes, or - even worse - being assaulted by a member of their family, according to the NGLTF report. And that's just the beginning. Life on the streets is hard and cruel, particularly for LGBT youth. 'I don't think there is any other situation where so much oppression and persecution and cruelty is happening to people because they're gay,' Carl Siciliano, who runs a shelter for LGBT youth in New York City, told the Indypendent. "These kids are bearing the brunt of homophobia in our society.

Indeed, the national numbers from the NGLTF report paint a sad picture of the hard circumstances faced by homeless LGBT youth:
26 percent of youth who come out to their parents as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender are kicked out of their homes

25-33 percent of all homeless youth have engaged in survival sex

42 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth abuse alcohol

Nearly 50 percent of LGBT homeless youth have attempted suicide"
[more ...]
posted by ericb at 6:13 AM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]




I'm pretty skeptical of those too. If they were published today, they'd sound a bit focus-on-the-familyish.

I don't know why. Just about every study I've ever seen about stigmatized populations* shows higher rates of depression and substance abuse. There's a strong correlation (some might even say causation) between being a member of a group that society doesn't like - to the point of legislating against them - and being depressed/self-medicating. Why is this surprising?

* Gay people, poor people, people of color, just to name a few
posted by rtha at 6:23 AM on December 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't know why. Just about every study I've ever seen about stigmatized populations* shows higher rates of depression and substance abuse

Yeah, I agree. Maybe the gay guys I know are exceptionally well adjusted or really good at hiding their drug habits, but nothing like 55% of them are substance abusers.
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 9:41 AM on December 23, 2010


Well, if we're going with anecdata, then most of the gay men I know aren't actively suffering from substance abuse problems either. But they're mostly in their late 30s and 40s, and they're out, and they have decent educations and jobs and support systems. And the sample size is awfully small. And I can't present any actual methodology for how I know this. Obviously, this should carry more weight than the dozens of studies available (at least in abstract form) on Google Scholar.
posted by rtha at 10:22 AM on December 23, 2010


Can we not get bogged down in arguing over old statistics? It's an argument for more open data sources as far as I'm concerned. And it doesn't take away from the photos illustrating the lives of these two young men. If either of them are still homeless at this point, I hope they both made it through the recent rain storms that flooded many of the places where the might have slept.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 11:18 AM on December 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


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