- December 18, 2013
HRC is calling its members, supporters, and allies to participate in a Day of Service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Treated as a “day on” and not a “day off,” MLK Day of Service on January 20 is a way to transform Dr. King’s legacy into community action that helps bring together people, strengthens communities, and meets national challenges. The Human Rights Campaign chooses to dedicate its Day of Service to the national challenge of addressing LGBT youth homelessness.
HRC Board members and steering committees across the country are responding to the call of service by partnering on service activities with organizations that serve LGBT homeless youth in their local communities.
In addition to spearheading their local service projects¸ HRC leaders, supporters, and allies are invited to share their reflections on why they are participating in MLK Day of Service in order to bring national attention to this critical issue. Today’s reflection is from Ronny Beck, one of HRC’s Federal Club Council members participating in the Day of Service in Cincinnati.
“Because you needed a home and I had one to share.”
This is one of my favorite lines from a children’s book written to help parents who foster or adopt a child. When my partner and I decided to be foster parents, we were thinking metaphorically about providing a “home” to a child placed with us. Incredibly, both of our boys came into our home after experiencing homelessness during their first six months of life. Their caretakers didn’t have anywhere to live. Ours was their first stable home. Homelessness took on a new urgency, and a cause became a passion. It was my son who didn’t have a place to sleep. It was my son who was dependent upon the goodwill of others for food, shelter, warmth and love.
That is why I am uniting with HRC and partner organizations across the country to serve LGBT homeless youth for MLK Day of Service. In addition to the sense of isolation that the state of homelessness can create, so can being rejected for being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, especially for a young man or woman, boy or girl who depends so much on their families.
When I was younger, I remember thinking “I wish I knew someone who was gay.” I felt isolated and fearful that those closest to me might reject me. LGBT youth make up to 40% of homeless and at-risk youth, and are eight times more likely to commit suicide if their families reject them. Homelessness, like suicide, is often linked to rejection, disconnection and despair.
My passion is making sure that those gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth who end up homeless feel connected, cared for and embraced. I see the need, the “might-have-been” for my once homeless sons. I don’t want that for anyone else.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Passion rebuilds the world for the youth. It makes all things alive and significant.” That is why I am acting to make a difference, and joining my local HRC steering committee in my community to partner with organizations on a service project benefitting LGBT homeless youth.
In over a dozen cities, we are uniting to serve LGBT homeless youth, whether it be to organize donation drives of basic but essential items such as toiletries, winter clothing, or school supplies, volunteering to support our local agencies who serve these youth, or bringing national attention to this critical issue.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. himself asked, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” On and leading up to MLK Day of Service, we are calling to action our HRC members, supporters, and allies to serve our LGBT homeless youth.
Will you join us? Please visit www.hrc.org/mlkdayofservice.