Thursday, September 13, 2012

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dear everyone

Dear everyone,

Kyle’s death has struck a very deep, sad chord inside of me. Although I did not know him very well, I was looking forward to getting to know him better. We recently wrote a grant proposal together for a project that we would have led together. I was excited about the possibility of spending more time with Kyle. Unfortunately our project did not get funded. A few weeks ago we discussed that, regardless of the lack of funding, we would find a way to make it work.

I have spent the past few days thinking very much about Kyle’s sweet smile, his soft voice, and his caring ways. I have also spent the past few days thinking about the ways that we treat one another – “we” as in all of us in this community, neighbours, colleagues, strangers on the subway, ignorant people that stare, every single one of us here in this city.

So much time is spent on being cool, being awkward, pretending that you’ve never met the person who you know you have met a dozen times before, placing judgment, and trying to be better than. Not enough time is spent on telling someone that they have a beautiful smile, listening, asking questions, and being soft and kind.
We seriously need to find ways to better support each other, to show people that we care, and to say I love you.

I have also been thinking about the ignorant things that people say on a daily basis and the way that people stare at anyone that doesn’t fit into their clean-cut categories and the extremely negative effects that this all has.
I have been brainstorming things to say to the next person who feels it’s okay to stare at me as if I don’t belong in this world.

This week has slowed me down and made me feel every beat in my heart.

May we find ways to talk about our struggles, insecurities, and fears.
May we learn how to ask more questions, how to listen a little deeper,
and pay closer attention to the small details.
May we please support each other and be kind and gentle and soft and loving and honest and open.

May we please reach out and take care of each other.

In honour of Kyle, I will find a way to make that project happen.


Friday, June 29, 2012

Happy Pride 2012!

In the midst of our celebrations this weekend, let’s take some time to remember and raise awareness to the fact that a high proportion of young people in our community are homeless and are living in fear on a daily basis because they are unsafe in a shelter system where homophobia and transphobia are rampant.

It is time to acknowledge that LGBTQ youth homelessness is a major issue in Toronto and that Toronto desperately needs to implement support services for our youth. Everyone deserves a safe bed, regardless of their gender or sexual identity.

Looking forward to celebrating love and authenticity this weekend.
Wishing everyone a happy and safe pride!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Research stories

I am currently in the data analysis and interpretation phase of my study.
Over the past year I have been busy conducting focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and observing shelter training workshops. I have spoken to LGBTQ homeless and street-involved youth, frontline shelter staff, Executive Directors,
City of Toronto shelter management, and workshop facilitators.
My plan was originally to share this process with you all, but I have been too busy to blog about it.
So, I've decided to start sharing snippets of my research story.

March 2011 - Approximately one year ago on my way to a youth shelter North of Toronto.

Sitting on the Greyhound bus departing from Toronto,
we drive through the city where homelessness is a very visible issue.
I see people sleeping on the streets on this freezing cold morning.

I drift in and out of sleep as we drive further from the city and closer to the country.
I wake to fields and trees, clearly we are out of the city.
I cannot help but notice how ironic it is that I am going so far from the city to research this problem that is a crisis in our city. But, here homelessness is a problem too. Perhaps not as visible as in Toronto.

The Executive Director picks me up from the station and together we drive to the youth shelter - a pretty yellow house.
The outside looks so welcoming, but that may not be the case for all youth, especially LGBTQ youth.
LGBTQ youth frequently migrate to Toronto for this reason.
However, sadly there is little support available in the form of specialized overnight services for this population of youth in Toronto as well.

I. Alex Abramovich

Friday, March 23, 2012

LGBTQ youth homelessness and the art of digital storytelling

I just spent three fabulous days in Ottawa at the Rainbow Health Ontario conference.
It was wonderful to see so many informative and groundbreaking presentations.
I feel very honoured to be part of this community and to have had the opportunity to speak to the issues of LGBTQ youth homelessness, because this population of youth is often left out of these important conversations.

The main goals of my presentation were to increase knowledge and awareness around LGBTQ youth homelessness in Canada, as well as to help formulate an understanding of the use of digital storytelling with LGBTQ youth and to have people leave with some key points of how digital storytelling is done.

I spoke about how we have extensive research on youth homelessness in Canada and within those studies it is often indicated that LGBTQ youth homelessness is on the rise, but agencies report difficulty in providing support, however there is seldom any follow-up or further investigation. Therefore, we have a large gap in knowledge in this area.
What we do know, however, is that queer youth are overrepresented in the homeless youth population and that approximately 25-40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. We also know that a large proportion of youth migrate to Toronto hoping to find support services and safety because of Toronto’s queer friendly reputation and because Toronto is known as the homeless capital of Canada.

A high percentage of people who are homeless happen to be LGBT because they got kicked out of their
house, or maybe they lost their job, or they lived in a small town, then they can’t pay their rent and where else
can they come, but Toronto?
(Homeless youth, 27 years old)

I also spoke about the risks encountered on the streets and in the shelter system, the daily challenges, and needs of queer homeless youth. Two films were screened to share the voices and stories of queer youth with lived experiences of homelessness.

I was extremely pleased to have such a full room of interested and engaged people to present to.
The questions and conversations that followed my presentation truly portrayed a group of people who want to see more support for LGBTQ homeless youth.
We must continue raising awareness to these issues.
We must continue sharing these important stories.
We must continue doing this until the appropriate support is in place.

Thank you,
I. Alex Abramovich

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

RHO 2012 Conference

Join us at the Rainbow Health Ontario Conference, March 20-23, 2012 at the Ottawa Marriott Hotel.
The theme of this conference is: “Supporting LGBT Health Through Every Stage of Life.”
Over 50 presentations and workshops will address issues surrounding the health and wellness of LGBTQ communities in Ontario.

Delegates from the health care, social service, public policy and other helping professions will be exposed to opportunities to learn more about LGBT health concerns, explore innovative research being done in this area, as well as be provided with several opportunities to network with other professionals from the academic, health and government sectors.

Ten workshops will be dedicated exclusively to issues relating to youth, eight dedicated to seniors, and seven dedicated to parenting.

I will be presenting on LGBTQ youth homelessness in Toronto and the use of Digital Storytelling (two short films will be screened) on Friday March 23, 2012 at 11am.