Text and Photos by Patricia Chourio
Mick was 17 when his parents kicked him out of their Minneapolis house for being gay. He spent months couch surfing and sleeping in homeless shelters. Shortly after, he began a serious relationship with an older man and moved in with him.
Everything seemed to be going well for a while. He got his GED and even started to take classes at a community college. However, the relationship became so emotionally abusive that Mick developed anorexia and body image issues.
He decided to move to Atlanta, where his grandmother offered help and a place to stay. Although she knew he was gay, she thought she could change him. Mick knew this situation wasn’t going to work out but moved to Atlanta anyway.
He once again found himself homeless when his grandmother threw him out.
Worse, he was in a city he didn’t know well. He felt there was no end to his troubles. “You can work as hard as you can and sometimes it still feels like there’s no end, no light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
Then, two months ago, Mick found out about an organization in Atlanta that helps LGBTQ homeless youth, Lost-n-Found. It offers a shelter with six beds, a computer lab, food, toiletries, showers, counseling and support to those in need.
The organization helped him find a home and a job renovating the building that will become Lost-n-Found’s new shelter. Mick is grateful he can now give back to the group that has helped him so much. “One of my goals is to help the people that come here,” he said. “I know how devastating their stories are.”
Saint Mark United Methodist Church in Atlanta donated the building to Lost-n-Found. The church is charging the organization a dollar a year, provided it renovates the house. The shelter will offer 18 beds for LGBTQ homeless youth and additional services. The group estimates there are more than 750 LGBTQ homeless youth in Atlanta.
Update August 2019: Lost-n-Found had a fund-raising campaign, “Brick by Brick,” to continue renovating the house in 2014 (when this article was first published).
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