Thank God for Steinbeck
After getting off at my subway stop last week, I saw a homeless girl relatively 16 years of age sitting on a cardboard box outside of an H&M reading The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. Her hair was up in dreadlock chaos and her tattered clothes rendered her virtually unkempt. Her blue eyes were glazed over with hopelessness and she was holding a sign that read “parents kicked me out, any money helps,” while begging to the myraid of pedestrians absorbed with their smart phones and Blackberries acting as though she were imperceptible.
There was something about this girl that made me walk over to her. She looked at me with a hint of excitement and trepidation as I stood over her, as though I was the miracle she’d been waiting for. She originally resided with her family on the Upper West Side, however was recently kicked out after coming out to her parents as gay. I felt like I got punched in the soul. How could any parent banish their child out into the erratic streets of New York City because of their sexual orientation and not feel a pinch of remorse and uncertainty knowing their child faced a fate deemed indeterminate. She said she would sleep in a different youth shelter every night and that her novels keep her going. I gave her whatever I had in my wallet and she endlessly thanked me. The last thing she said was “Thank God for my books otherwise I don’t know what I would do.” Her bravery resonated with me, however left me feeling helpless. Out of the approximately 18,000 homeless kids living in NYC, almost 8,000 are LGBT and are left to fend for their own on the street. LGBT homeless youth are twice as likely to abuse substances and commit suicide. Leaving this girl made me feel hopeless and useless because it’s not like I could just give her a house. But there is something we can do. Even if it’s a little, it’s something. Go HERE to donate to one of the city’s leading LGBT homeless youth shelter, or HERE for any young person living without a roof above their head. Not everyone has Steinbeck looking out for them, but at least we can give them an inkling of hope.
Post Submitted by: Greg Mania