Intersectionality and Homelessness

In a recent email, we mentioned that there isn’t a single reason why someone experiences homelessness: it’s intersectional. So what does that mean to a young LGBTQ person without a stable home? 

Intersectionality is a framework that thinks about our gender, race, political identity, social identity, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other attributes that make up our sense of self. We all have these intersections because we all have gender, orientation, and so on, and each brings privileges and discrimination—which adds complexity whenever facing a challenge. 

Seeing as it’s Pride month, let’s start with being LGBTQ. This intersection alone means that you’re more likely to experience homelessness. A few of the many common scenarios range from being kicked out of the house to physical, sexual, and emotional abuse are all common — all of which are experienced at higher rates than Straight peers.

And that’s just one intersection. Add being Black and you’re more likely to be homeless. It gets even more complex as we consider the person’s life experience and how to support them the way they need. 
Trauma-informed approaches, for example, center on the experience of the individual, knowing that more likely than not, they have a history of trauma and recognize the presence of symptoms. There are principles such as peer-to-peer support and transparency that ground the approach. This plus tactics such as street outreach and transitional living programs; all are utilized with an LGBTQ-specific lens to support helping young people. 

As you explore intersectionality, stop and write down your own intersections. Think about your cultural background, race, and everything else that makes up who you are. Then, do this for your partner or BFF. Think about how your intersections make your friendships stronger or where you may have experienced discrimination. What do you see? What stands out?