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Discover how to fight for LGBT rights in NYC

By Tolly Wright
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The struggle for queer rights didn’t end with marriage equality, and with many fearing that the 2015 Supreme Court decision could be overturned, that victory now seems in jeopardy. Even before the tragic Orlando massacre at the nightclub Pulse earlier this year, LGBT people were more likely to be victims of hate crimes than any other marginalized group in this country, so protecting community members from both violence on the street and unjust legislation is now more important than ever. “We’re seeing more and more [LGBT] homeless youth, and there’s not enough services for them,” says Bill Torres, director of community resources at the Ali Forney Center (see below). “We’re having to turn more and more people away, and that’s brutal. Your family lives a few subways stops away, and they won’t accept you into their homes for the holidays or even take a phone call.” Below, find three ways to provide for homeless LGBT individuals and advocate for their rights.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to activism in NYC

The Ali Forney Center

The organization, focused on LGBT homeless youth, is dedicated to helping at-risk young people ward off violence, neglect, self-harm, suicide and sexually transmitted diseases. Most AFC youth, who range from teens to early twenty-somethings, receive beds to sleep on in the center’s shelters, but many more are taken care of in the drop-in center, where hot meals, showers, clean clothes, and mental-health services and medical checkups are provided. Volunteer to serve meals, or become a dedicated mentor or tutor to assist AFC’s community in completing GEDs, applying for jobs and learning life skills. If you don’t have time for that, you can still make a difference by donating holiday gifts like scarves, hats and school supplies, plus gift certificates to retailers listed on the AFC website. 

The Anti-Violence Project

Through providing crisis intervention, legal services and community organizing, the AVP serves LGBT and HIV-infected people who are currently in danger of or are recovering from all forms of violence. With support groups for people affected by hate crimes and sexual abuse, it offers those in need legal and personal support to remove them from harmful situations and help them start anew. Though the December and January volunteer sessions currently have a waiting list, locals are needed for February and March to become a hotline volunteer, assist in safety nights and counsel during anti-hate meetings. 

Not Straight Against Hate

Join the LGBT community and its allies for this rally in Washington Square Park. In response to fears that potential federal legislation in 2017 could interfere with current laws and judicial decisions that grant queer people the right to get married, workplace equality and health services, the goal of the march is to raise awareness and thwart any unjust legislative changes. W 4th St to Waverly Pl between MacDougal St and University Pl. Dec 17 at 5pm.

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