Jan/Feb 2014 | In what Artistic Director Gerald Gurss calls “one of the chorus’s most compelling, provocative and relevant shows” in recent years, “HOME”—One Voice Chorus’s concert to raise awareness about LGBT homeless youth—is taking shape for its presentation April 11 & 12.
With the help of Time Out Youth and Urban Ministries, One Voice has been interviewing LGBT youth in Charlotte who are or have been homeless. From these stories and themes, Gurss is composing original music and the chorus is producing a video mini-documentary, funded by a grant from the Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Fund.
“A safe place of my own . . .”
LGBT youth become homeless for a number of reasons, but family rejection overwhelmingly tops the list. According to a nationwide study of LGBT homeless youth by The Williams Institute, family rejection of sexual orientation or gender identity caused 43% of these youth to be forced out of their homes and 46% to run away. Nearly one third also reported physical, emotional or sexual abuse at home.
The young people we’re interviewing understand these factors firsthand. Says one recently homeless youth we interviewed, “Kids may be living in homes, but that doesn’t mean they’re being raised well. My perfect home would be a place of my own where I can build myself up as an individual. In my perfect home, no one would have to keep any part of themselves hidden in closets.”
“Terrified to be myself”
Devon, a 20-year-old female to male transsexual relates to that dream of not having to hide. Devon shares, “When I was little, I remember my mom brushing my long hair, and she would say, ‘God made you a beautiful girl.’ I was terrified to be myself.” For Devon, being himself eventually meant he had to leave his home and birth family.
Jonathan, who was kicked out of his home at 17, was left with nothing but his car, a big blue suitcase and pictures of his mother. He eventually found safe haven with the help of Time Out Youth. Jonathan himself will be joining One Voice as a guest soloist on “Jonathan’s Song,” a piece Gurss has composed for the chorus.
A widespread dilema
These stories aren’t rare. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, as many as 42% of homeless youth in America identify as gay, lesbian or transgender. These youth are at greater risk for sexual and physical violence, mental health concerns, unsafe sexual practices and suicide.
Please join us April 11 & 12 at Heaton Hall of Myers Park Baptist Church for the “HOME” concert and screening of the mini-documentary. The first half of the concert will also feature stories of how One Voice members define and create family for themselves. Get your tickets now!
If you’d like to keep up with the progress of this project between now and the concert, we invite you to sign up for our free e-publication CommunityNotes from One Voice. Sign up now, and we’ll deliver a fresh copy to your inbox bimonthly. (Like magic, only more newsy.)