Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 40, Ed. 1 Friday, February 17, 2012 Page: 16 of 56
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OUT on the street
Homeless LGBT youth in Dallas
often turn to drugs, prostitution if
social workers don't find them first
— and advocates say they need
the community's help
DAVID WEBB I Contributing Writer
Every weekend a hunt takes place on the
streets of Dallas for some of society's most vul-
nerable members, and their fate often depends
upon who finds them first, according to social
workers who note that LGBT youth are homelesf
at twice the rate of the general youth population.
The homeless young people under pursuit by
both social workers and others whose motives
are suspect — often sinister — tend to blend into
That makes the youths, who typically dress
like average teenagers, difficult to identify and to
engage in conversation, which is the first step in
gaining their confidence and initiating sustained
The young homeless population differs sub-
stantially from their older counterparts because
they are unlikely to be found sleeping in home-
less shelters, under bridges, in parks and the like.
Their youth often affords them the opportunity
to spend the night with relatives, friends and ac-
quaintances, which is why "sofa surfing" has be-
come popular to describe their nomadic lifestyle.
The youths often are distrustful of.older people
who approach them on the street because they
quickly learn there are criminal-minded individ-
uals circulating, whose motives sometimes mir-
ror the real life horrors of primetime television
crime dramas. Dallas is a city of beautiful sky-
scrapers with bright colorful lights beckoning vis-
itors, but it also has a vast, ugly underbelly
harboring drug trafficking, prostitution, pornog-
raphy productions and every other type of vice
imaginable to which young people can become
Amie McNamara, interim director at Youth
First Texas in Dallas, said her organization pro-
vides a safe place for all LGBT youths to meet and
receive counseling and reliable support from
peers. It also works to counteract the harmful in-
fluences homeless young people encounter when
they leave their homes, she said.
"Gay lesbian and transgender youths have a
much harder time," McNamara said. "They tend
to get kicked out more."
Sometimes, they leave home on their own be-
cause the conditions there are deplorable or abu-
sive, according to social workers.
Once away from the protection of responsible
adults, homeless youths face big challenges to
survive, and if they are LGBT the challenges often
are greater because of anti-gay discrimination
and feelings of inferiority, McNamara said. They
often make bad choices because of the absence of
authority figures to guide them, she added.
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Wright, John. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 40, Ed. 1 Friday, February 17, 2012, newspaper, February 17, 2012; Dallas, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth239207/m1/16/: accessed March 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.