Just last week on Rod 2.0, we discussed the problems of young black gay, lesbian and transgendered youth who are homeless and looking for housing. Now, yet another unfortunate example of the many problems facing low income gay men and lesbians: A woman is denied a bed at a homeless shelter after counselors discover she is lesbian.
The Chicago Tribune reports the incident happed during a cold November evening at New Life Interim Housing, a city-funded shelter run by a ministry on the city's North Side.
The staffer for the homeless shelter didn't seem to understand Michelle Wang's explanation why she needed a place to stay. Wang offered again over the telephone how she had broken up with her girlfriend and moved out of the apartment they shared. The staffer appeared to become agitated, raised her voice and continued to profess confusion, Wang said.
Finally, Wang blurted out that she was a lesbian. The staffer immediately put her on hold. After a long wait, Wang got the word she feared: There were no beds available.
"As much as I wanted a place to sleep, I didn't want to lie," Ms. Wang says. "I am disturbed that I was denied shelter, left to the cold and the danger because of something so trivial."
Wang became homeless after moving from Indianapolis with her girlfriend—whose job had transfered her to Chicago—and subsequently being kicked out and left penniless. However, she maintained a job in retail and since then found her own apartment. Her attorneys have filed complaints with the city and state agencies that regulate shelters and may sue the city.
The Rev. Bud Ogle, the Presbyterian minister who founded the shelter and Good News Partners Ministry, denies any discriminations. "Some of our staff are less comfortable with homosexual, gay and lesbian folks than others are. Our policy as a ministry is to welcome every single person as a child of God."
Some Background ...
NYT Profiles Black LGBT Youth Center [R20]
"New Generation" in the West Village [R20]
Homeless Gay Youth an "Epidemic" [R20]
Pier Kids [R20]
GLAAD's Ad Targets Black Families [R20]
Would You Stop Loving Him? [R20]
(Virtual) Sex and the City [R20]