Friday, 25 April 2014

Why? The Big Question With Unacceptable Answers - Homelessness Amongst Young LGBT BME Persons

Why? The Big Question with Unacceptable Answers.
This was my response to a question that Bisi Alimi posed on Facebook after he revealed a statistic about the percentage of homelessness amongst LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transsexual) young persons of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups between the ages of 16 to 25 in London.
As a member of the Stonewall Housing Board (SHB), he noted that 75% of the young persons seeking housing support from the SHB were of African, Asian and Caribbean descent.
He closed his comment with, “My people, why would anyone in 2014, drive out a child in Britain just cos (sic) of their sexuality? Why?
No acceptable excuse
In my humble opinion, I cannot find any excuse that any parent in any situation or circumstance can give, regardless of what they believe or the positions and status they hold in society or in their community that would justify their unreasonable and unconscionable loss of humanity, humaneness, parental affection and responsibility to their child.
To throw a child on the streets at a vulnerable stage of their lives because of the discovery of their sexuality that does not seem to fit a construct they expect is heartless at best and downright evil.
Not the end of the world
Whilst very little can prepare parents for the realisation that their child is LGBT, it cannot be the end of the world and it should not be made the end of the world of the child.
The station of parent demands great responsibility and many situations challenge the capacity of parents to hold that responsibility with stoicism and courage, but a parent is what a parent should remain - understanding, supportive, protective and hardest of all, accepting.
It is hard enough for the child realising that they are different for all sorts of reasons with the possibility that they feel that the world is against them.
Sexuality is rarely taught
More pertinently, the child having grown up under guardianship in most cases cannot have been nurtured into homosexuality living in an environment where heterosexuality is the situational norm, which can lead to the conclusion that sexuality is innate and natural rather than learnt.
Then again there are children who have been reared in a same-sex parentage who are naturally heterosexual – it really is not the end of the world.
Children are not clones
Sadly, the truth is parents have to get to grips with stark realities about their children, they would be distinct, different, individual, distinguishable and accomplished in so many diverse ways, they would assume our likeness beyond which their character, temperament, imaginations, dreams, abilities, sexuality and whatever else that makes up a human being indicate they are not clones of ourselves.
That BME groups would remove parental protection on account of the sexuality of their child is beneath contempt, but I am thankful that organisations like the SHB exist to help, by providing shelter, protection, opportunity and a brighter future.
Many of these homeless child will in spite of and despite the actions of their parents find their own way, and though they might be bitter and helpless now, it is not like these children do not have a bigger heart of humaneness and compassion that would put their parents to shame.
The Story of Chris
I share a story about such a person who was thrown out of his home at 15 for coming out to his mother in 1988, and this was in Caucasian family whilst contrasting it with the attitudes of the other siblings.
When a child comes out to their guardian, that is the time to offer some comfort, strength, reasonable guidance and support, it is definitely not the time to wash your hands off the child you brought up and ostracise them by throwing them out of the home.
Any parent who does this should be ashamed of themselves, whether that parent were ever worthy of being one, is a question for another time.
Chris, a son, a man, a person of honour
I first met Chris some 11 years ago, just about a year after we began chatting online.
I cannot say how many people he told his story, but it has been one story that has stuck with me long after his sudden and unexpected demise in late 2009.
He grew up with a single mother and a younger brother when at the age of 15 she threw him out of the house because he came out as gay.
In the late 1980s, that is what most parents tended to do, dump their offspring who under their care and protection just by happenstance appeared to exhibit a same-sex attraction.
Someone else became guardian
Providence shined on Chris because an African-American saw him on the streets and arranged to give Chris a better life and future in America.
There he lived for 6 years, gaining an education and skills before returning to Europe and eventually settling down with a partner in Amsterdam who one day due to mental illness sadly drowned himself in one of the Amsterdam canals.
Chris returned to the UK then and engaged in a number of social and creative activities, in which time his health suffered, but he still had a wonderful outlook to life. That is when I met him.
A son without malice
In early 2006, the mother who dumped him for being gay was very ill, and ironically, of all the children she had, it was Chris she looked to for care and help.
He bore no anger or malice towards her and in February 2006 she died in his arms.
Chris did what was expected of a son and much more, he buried his mother with honour, dignity and respect. For all that he had suffered, he had the warmest heart to care even to the point of denying himself essential care.
A son with a heart
Yet 2006 was a horrible year for him because his father from whom he had been estranged for years and who was atrociously unsympathetic on hearing of Chris' mother's death was dying too.
His father who had many other offspring, at least three much older than Chris with their own children, desired earnestly that Chris be at his bedside.
Chris did not think twice about providing succour to his father who at times past was as nasty and horrid as ever can be, to Chris.
Something informed his father that of all the children he had, only Chris would do right by him.
A worthy son
So when his father died in December 2006, it was Chris that stood in the position of son and man to give his father a befitting funeral.
The child rejected and reviled almost two decades before became the child to honour those who spurned him. His father in his testament bequeathed all his worldly goods to Chris at the expense of the brothers and the grandchildren.
The brothers had the shameless temerity to contest the will, but Chris won in every court of opinion and process.
Chris was one of a kind, a gentle soul whose hard life did no becloud the opportunity to be forgiving and accommodating.
That was the manner of man he was and sadly he died of renal failure in London, in October 2009, a great loss to many who knew him and never will forget what a kind soul he was.


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