Homelessness Amongst Marginalized LGBTQ Youth

This article predominantly demonstrates the manner in which familiar ties and structure are subjected to various forms of erosion due to the open non-normative nature of an adolescent’s sexual preference and subsequently their gender identification. The author, Brandon Robinson PH. D, illustrates the qualitative methodologies he utilizes in depicting the correlation between not solely familiar structure and stability, but also the catalyst it serves as to propel said youth into homelessness.

Robinson refers to the frequent findings within sociological research committees in stating that that the hegemonic tendencies within society’s parenting methods are the paramount cause of this rejection of non-normative adolescents within their respective families. This hegemony expressed in the family structure is often the cause of family instability, because it is due to these ideals that the adolescent is forced to conform or face a resocialization involving psychological and physical assaults. From this perspective Robinson then explains that the abuse and neglect of these LGBTQ youths, stems from the hegemonic ideologies of their parental figures, and furthermore this parental behavior materializes as a byproduct of their heterosexual socialization.

Robinson conducts a multisite ethnography within an outreach center for homeless youth for those of LGBTQ orientation, in which he conducts an investigation regarding the various family conditions these youth have been subjected to exposing that the family instability and rejection stem from other conditioning variables as well. Poverty is a significant strain upon the family structure, and aids in encouraging neglect leading to a non-heterosexual’s feeling of rejection, and thus is a paramount cause of the psychological complications these individuals face.

Other findings also illustrate the psychological impact poverty, emotional instability, and rejection have upon an individual attempting to live a non-restricted life face. These impacts materialize in the form of abandoning or being evicted from their homes, and also developing a double consciousness in which these individuals find themselves unable to pertain to any single demographic feeling a disenfranchisement from either group. Therefore, Robinson alludes to the conclusion that it is due to these factors that the LGTBQ youth is prone to becoming homeless, as a result of a rejection. He also expresses the role various socio-economic variables factor in creating instability and eventual homelessness but emphasizes gender expression and sexual orientation as the main forms of strain within the family context.

This article details the lives and experiences of many different types of marginalized LGBTQ youth. Brandon Robinson talks to these youth, which come from different backgrounds, races, and social classes. These young people have become victims to an unstable family structure due to their parent’s refusal to accept their sexuality and preferred gender expression. The issues portrayed in this article are about the way these young people navigate everyday life without the support of their parents and how they suffer at the hand of marginalization. Robinson also discusses how the gender expression of these subjects has been the focus of violence and unacceptance within their own families. This second part of the article gives and insight into the lives of Prada, Zoe, Jenelle, Xander, Alaina, and Naomi. These are all young people of color who have been victims of homophobia and have suffered violence because of it.

Prada, Zoe, and Jenelle are straight, Hispanic, transgender women who have struggled with expressing their preferred gender and have suffered at the hands of homophobic parents. Prada ran away at the age of 17 and became homeless after the death threats she constantly experienced from her father. Not being allowed to express herself took on a toll on Prada and further strained her family dynamic. She then went to live with her aunt and uncle who are pastors, and they threw her out on the street because they refused to accept her lifestyle. Zoe’s homelessness has led her to constantly use drugs. She has been living on the streets since the seventh grade due to the lack of parental support. Zoe also dropped out of school during seventh grade, choosing to live on the streets than deal with transphobic parents. Janelle came out at the age of 12, and rapidly realized that her mother would not accept her lifestyle. Her father refuses to use her preferred pronouns, and she is also a victim of violence. For many transgender people, proper pronouns can be very important and a significant part of their identity. These young people are experiencing similar troubles when attempting to express their gender identity. The similarity of these narratives exemplifies some factors that have driven many LGBTQ youth to homelessness and the transphobia that has negatively affected their lives.

Xander, Alaina, and Naomi identify as either gay or bisexual. Their sexual orientation has caused strain within their families, as they refuse to accept them for who they truly are. Xander is a black, 19-year-old gay individual who grew up with a homophobic father. His father used derogatory terms to refer to Xander and would constantly use his sexual orientation to insult him. However, Robinson argues that black men may attack their son’s sexuality to protect them from the stigma that comes with being gender nonconforming while simultaneously being a black man in present times. This may be perceived as a form of protection, but it is still detrimental to the individual’s psyche. Alaina has dealt with the stigma of being a lesbian, something that is heavily frowned upon in traditional Hispanic culture. Her grandmother refused to allow her to live in her home, forcing her to run away and be taken in by CPS.

Naomi, a bisexual transgender Latina, suffered due to the stigma that comes with being bisexual and transgender. It is difficult for people to correlate those concepts, and her sexual identity was often questioned. These people represent some of the most marginalized groups in society and exemplify the difficulties that come with being part of these groups. In this article Robinson raises the question of what unconditional love truly means for these families. These parent’s unaccepting behavior towards their gender non-conforming children may demonstrate that a parent’s love is conditional. Robinson asks, What are the conditions to allow for unconditional love? Poverty and instability in conjunction with heteronormativity and the gender binary can shape particular experiences of negotiating gender and sexuality within conditional families (11). Socio-economic factors along with unacceptance may cause these families’ love to become conditional, thus forcing these youths to leave their homes and become homeless.

This article is important to society because it portrays the lives of marginalized people and truly puts into perspective what these people go through. Robinson discusses the correlation between homophobia and people of color and explores these narratives in order to understand the reasons why. Robinson explores these narratives to portray some of the different people in society that struggle with homelessness and what led them to that. We chose this article because we believe that giving a voice to marginalized groups is important. Understanding these narratives promotes inclusivity and becoming aware of issues in our community can be helpful when studying LGBTQ groups. The narratives explored in this article are rampant in today’s society, and many people are not aware of this. This article truly highlights some of the struggles LGBTQ people face and explores some reasons as to why people become homeless. There are many homeless people living amongst us, and this article offers an explanation as to why this may be an issue.

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