19-year-old Daniel Ashley Pierce, staying strong after being kicked out of his house for being gay, has helped open a new home for homeless LGBT youth.
The emotional footage of his family calling him a ‘fag’ in Southern accents and claiming to disown Pierce in God’s name went viral on YouTube this month, and prompted over $100,000 (€77,597) of donations in Pierce’s name.
Now under the care of Atlanta-based Lost-n-Found, a shelter for homeless LGBT youth, the teen has urged future donations be sent to the organization itself, which over the weekend previewed its new Midtown home on Juniper and Fifth Street.
Still under construction and pending city approval, the home will be fitted with electricity and plumbing to accommodate three times as many beds as the current shelter for a total of 18.
‘This will become the premier youth shelter in Midtown or Downtown Atlanta,’ outreach director Art Izzard told the GA Voice.
‘There is no other youth shelter within walking distance of where the majority of these youth are at on the streets.’
The group was recently featured in Rolling Stone, where the magazine profiled two homeless teens under Lost-n-Found’s care, as well as the group’s fundraising efforts which include selling personalized bricks to help finish completion of the Midtown home.
According to the Center for American Progress, there are between 320,000 and 400,000 homeless LGBT youths in the US.
Carl Siciliano, founder of the largest homeless LGBT youth organization in the US the Ali Forney Center, told rhe Rolling Stone while LGBT activists have championed marriage equality, many have forgotten to ensure economic recourse for young LGBT individuals.
‘We’ve been so focused on laws – changing the laws around marriage equality, changing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ getting adoption rights – that we haven’t been fighting for economic resources. How many tax dollars do gay people contribute? What percentage of tax dollars comes back to our gay kids? We haven’t matured enough as a movement yet that we’re looking at the economics of things.’
Lost-n-Found executive director Rick Westbrook said at the preview six homeless LGBT youths across die in the US every day.
‘We can’t have that. That’s just not the way I was raised,’ he said.
‘I don’t care if you’re from the north or the south or another country. When you’re in Atlanta, we take care of our kids. And that’s what we’re going to do.’
Visit the Lost-n-Found website to learn how you can purchase a personalized brick that will be laid in the foundation for the organization’s new transitional facility and drop-in center.
If you are a youth in crisis please call or text 678-856-7825 now. Youth may also visit the Lost-n-Found Center located at 2585 Chantilly Dr 30324, open Mondays & Wednesdays 12 noon to 5pm, Fridays 12 noon to 8pm.