METROFOCUS: JUNE 24, 2019

June 25, 2019 at 5:30 am

As the city marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, Google unveils a virtual monument to commemorate LGBTQ history. We’ll take you inside Marsha’s House, a homeless shelter for LGBTQ young adults, and follow the journey of a courageous and resilient young man as he navigates the shelter system.

Aired on June 24, 2019. 

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>>> TONIGHT ON "METROFOCUS,"
CELEBRATING THE PAST, PRESENT
AND FUTURE OF PRIDE VIRTUALLY.
AS THE CITY MARKS THE 50th
ANNIVERSARY OF THE STONEWALL
UPRISING, GOOGLE UNVEILS
STONEWALL FOREVER, A NEW DIGITAL
EXPERIENCE COMMEMORATING LGBTQ
HISTORY.
FEATURING ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE AND
PHOTOS, "THE VOICE"S OF
YESTERDAY THE WITH THE VOICES OF
TODAY FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS.
WE'LL SHOW YOU HOW YOU CAN BE
PART OF THE EXPERIENCE.
>>> THEN MARCIA P. JOHNSON SETS
THE STAGE FOR THIS PRIDE
PROFILING COURAGE.
WE'LL TAKE YOU INSIDE MARCIA'S
HOUSE, A HOMELESS SHELTER FOR
YOUNG LGBTQ ADULTS, AND FOLLOW
THE I AM COURAGEOUS YOUNG MAN AS
HE NAVIGATES THE SHELTER SYSTEM.
THOSE STORIES AND MORE AS
"METROFOCUS" STARTS RIGHT NOW.
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>> THIS IS "METROFOCUS" WITH
RAFAEL PI. ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND
JENNA FLANAGAN.
"METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE BY
JAMES AND MERRILL TISCH.
SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III.
THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA
PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT
ANTI-SEMITISM.
BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARZ.
ROSALIND P. WALTER.
BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG.
AND BY --
>> CORPORATE FUNDING FOR
"METROFOCUS" WAS PROVIDED BY
MUTUAL OF AMERICA, YOUR
RETIREMENT COMPANY.
>> ON A HOT JUNE NIGHT 1969, A
ROUTINE POLICE RAID OF THE
POPULAR GAY BAR AT THE STONEWALL
INN SPARKED THE FIRST WAVE.
IT CONTINUED TO INSPIRE ALL TO
FIGHT FOR EQUALITY.
IT IS WITH THAT SAME PASSION
THAT NEW YORK CITY'S LGBT
COMMUNITY CENTER AND GOOGLE HAVE
TEAMED UP TO FIND, PRESERVE AND
SHARE MANY STILL UNTOLD STORIES
OF FOOTAGE OF THE RIOTS IN A NEW
PROJECT APTLY NAMED STONEWALL
FOREVER.
JOINING ME WITH DETAILS TO TALK
ABOUT THIS AND HELP CELEBRATE
THE SUMMER OF '69, JEFF KLEIN AT
THE LGBT COMMUNITY CENTER AND
PUBLIC AFFAIRS AT GOOGLE.
WELCOME.
>> THANK YOU.
>> THIS IS A FASCINATING
INITIATIVE YOU HAVE PUT
TOGETHER.
TO SET THE STAGE FOR THIS,
PERHAPS SOME YOUNGER VIEWERS OUT
THERE, PEOPLE NOT FAMILIAR WITH
WHAT HAPPENED 50 YEARS AGO, GIVE
US A, A SNAPSHOT, IF YOU WILL,
OF WHAT HAPPENED THAT NIGHT, AS
I SAID, 50 YEARS AGO, HOW IT ALL
PLAYED OUT, AND THEN WE CAN TALK
ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCE.
JEFF, DO YOU WANT TO JUMP IN?
>> SURE.
STONEWALL RIOT WAS A HOT EVENING
IN JUNE IN 1969 AND POLICE
RAIDED THE STONEWALL IN A BAR IN
THE WEST VILLAGE THAT WAS A SAFE
SPACE FOR THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY.
THEY CELEBRATE THEIR OWN
IDENTITIES AND MEET EACH OTHER.
AND THE BAR WAS RAIDED AND
PEOPLE WERE ARRESTED AND THE
COMMUNITY SAID, THAT'S ENOUGH.
WE'RE NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANY
MORE.
IT WAS FREQUENT AT THE TIME.
>> THAT WAS THE UNIQUE THING
ABOUT IT BECAUSE THOSE RAIDS
WERE --
>> IT WAS A REGULAR RAID.
>> IT WAS A REGULAR RAID, AND
NORMALLY PEOPLE KNEW HOW TO ACT
WHEN THE POLICE CAME IN AND WHAT
WAS DEFINING OR EXTRAORDINARY
ABOUT THIS MOMENT WAS THAT THE
PATRONS OF THE BAR SAID, NO.
>> ENOUGH.
>> YEAH, ENOUGH.
AND IT TURNED INTO A THREE OR
FOUR-DAY MELEE.
>> AND IMPORTANT TO NOTE,
BECAUSE PEOPLE NOT FAMILIAR WITH
IT MAY SAY WHY WERE THE POLICE
RAIDING IT?
HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVITY WAS CRIMINAL
AT THE TIME.
WE'RE ONLY TALKING ABOUT 50
YEARS AGO.
>> BEFORE WE GET TO WHAT'S GOING
ON IN THE INITIATIVE, I WANT TO
TALK ABOUT YOUR ORGANIZATION,
TOO.
WE MENTIONED BEFORE THAT IT WAS
THE BEGINNING, SPARKED SIX DAY'S
WORTH OF PROTESTS, INDEED, WORTH
OF RIOTS.
AND WE HAVE OFTEN HEARD PEOPLE
SAY THAT THIS WAS, IF NOT THE
PIVOTAL MOMENT IN THE GAY RIGHTS
MOVEMENT, IT WAS CERTAINLY ONE
OF THEM.
WHY WOULD YOU THINK THAT WOULD
BE, EACH OF YOU?
WILLIAM, YOU FIRST.
>> IT WAS DEFINITELY A CATALYST
FOR THE MOVEMENT, WHICH HAD BEEN
GROWING BEFORE, BEFORE
STONEWALL.
THERE WERE A NUMBER OF COMMUNITY
ORGANIZATIONS THAT WERE BUBBLING
UP LIKE THE SOCIETY THAT WAS
FIGHTING FOR LGBT EQUALITY.
BUT THIS DEFIANT ACT REALLY WAS
A CATALYZING MOMENT FOR EVERYONE
IN THE CITY AND AROUND THE WORLD
WHO WERE ALSO ENGAGING IN THIS
ACTIVITY.
AND I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO
SAY THAT IT WASN'T JUST, YOU
KNOW, THE SEVERAL DAYS OF RIOTS.
WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THAT WAS
EQUALLY IMPORTANT.
IT ACTUALLY SPAWNED A YEAR'S
WORTH OF VERY CONCERTED, VERY
PUBLIC PROTESTS THAT ULTIMATELY
A YEAR LATER ON THE ANNIVERSARY
OF THE RIOTS, SPARKED THE VERY
FIRST GAY -- GAY RIGHTS PARADE.
>> SO LET'S TALK ABOUT --
>> WE CALL IT PRIDE NOW.
>> EXACTLY.
>> WE'VE MADE THAT PROGRESSION
TO GET TO PRIDE.
>> YES.
>> CONSIDERING THAT IT WAS JUST
50 YEARS AGO WHEN IT WAS
CRIMINAL CONDUCT.
SO LET'S TALK ABOUT STONEWALL
FOREVER.
HOW DID IT COME ABOUT?
>> SO STONEWALL FOREVER IS A
PROJECT TO CELEBRATE ANNIVERSARY
OF THE RIOTS.
GOOGLE A CLOSE CENTER, BEING A
FEW FEET AWAY DOWN IN THE
VILLAGE.
AND SO IT WAS A PERFECT MARRIAGE
OF THE CENTER'S COMMUNITY
CONNECTION AND OUR NATIONAL LGBT
ARCHIVE CONTAINING ARTIFACTS AND
MATERIALS FROM DECADES OF LGBT
LIFE IN NEW YORK CITY AND
DIFFERENT FOLKS WHO CONTRIBUTED.
AND GOOGLE'S TECHNOLOGY AND
SCALE TO REACH PEOPLE ACROSS THE
GLOBE.
AS WE WERE TALKING, PRIDE HAS
BECOME JUNE.
JUNE IS PRIDE MONTH.
AND THAT'S NOT JUST IN NEW YORK
CITY.
THAT'S ALL OVER THE WORLD.
AND SO THE ABILITY TO TAKE
SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED
PHYSICALLY IN NEW YORK AT A
PLACE IN THE STREETS OF NEW YORK
CITY, BUT HAS HAD A RIPPLE
EFFECT ACROSS THE GLOBE, WITHOUT
OUR ORGANIZATIONS PARTNERING
TOGETHER WOULDN'T BE POSSIBLE
THE WAY IT IS.
>> GOOGLE, I ASSUME BEING THE
ORGANIZATION THAT IT IS, I'M
SURE A LOT OF GROUPS AND
ORGANIZATIONS AND CAUSES COME TO
GOOGLE AND SAY, WE'D LIKE TO
PARTNER WITH YOU.
WHY THIS PARTNERSHIP?
>> AS JEFF SAID, IT REALLY WAS
KIND OF A PERFECT MARRIAGE.
FIRST AND FOREMOST, THEY ARE OUR
NEIGHBORS, AND ONE OF OUR
STRATEGIC COMMUNITY PARTNERS.
WE HAVE A LONG HISTORY OF
VOLUNTEERISM BETWEEN OUR
EMPLOYEES AND THE CENTER.
BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, WE SAW A
REALLY IMPORTANT OPPORTUNITY
HERE.
IT WAS AROUND THE DESIGNATION OF
THE MONUMENT, WHICH WAS A VERY
BIG THING BACK IN 2016, AND ALSO
OUR ABILITY THROUGH TECHNOLOGY
TO HELP DISSEMINATE THAT
INFORMATION ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED
THAT NIGHT.
WE THOUGHT, LIKE, THIS IS A GOOD
OPPORTUNITY TO SHOW NOT ONLY HOW
TECHNOLOGY CAN WORK FOR
EVERYONE, BUT ALSO CAN TELL A
REALLY COMPELLING STORY ABOUT A
COMMUNITY WHOSE HISTORY IS KIND
OF LOST.
AND AS YOU KNOW, THAT'S PART OF
OUR MISSION, TO DISSEMINATE
INFORMATION AND MAKE IT
ACCESSIBLE TO EVERYONE.
>> SO WHAT IS THE PROJECT
DESIGNED TO GATHER UP, TO ALLOW
STONEWALL TO REMAIN FOREVER?
>> SO, THE PROJECT IS PART
ARCHIVE, PART STORYTELLING
PLATFORM AND MEDIUM, AND ALSO
PART AUGMENTED REALITY.
IT WEAVES TOGETHER A LOT OF
SEEMINGLY DISPARATE BITS OF
INFORMATION, ORAL HISTORIES FROM
PEOPLE WHO WERE THERE AT THE
NIGHT OF THE RIOTS.
PRIDE MEMORABILIA FROM THE VERY
FIRST MARCH.
IT ALSO PUTS TOGETHER ARCHIVAL
MATERIAL LIKE DIARIES AND
POSTERS, STORIES THAT WERE, UP
UNTIL THIS POINT, LOST.
AND MOST IMPORTANTLY -- AND THIS
IS THE THING I THINK IS REALLY
EXCITING -- IT ALSO INCORPORATES
CURRENT USER GENERATED
INFORMATION.
SO PEOPLE -- IT ALLOWS PEOPLE
NOW TO CONTRIBUTE THEIR STORY TO
THE --
>> I WAS GOING TO ASK YOU THAT.
IF SOMEBODY IS WATCHING THIS
CONVERSATION WE'RE HAVING AND
SAYING, I WAS THERE, OR MY
FRIEND AND MY PARTNER WERE
THERE, I KNOW SOME STORIES ABOUT
IT, HOW DO THEY DO THAT?
>> THEY CAN DO IT ONE OF TWO
WAYS.
GIVEN THAT STONEWALL FOREVER
EXISTS ONLINE, IT EXISTS VIA
YOUR DESKTOP OR YOUR LAPTOP,
ALSO EXISTS ON YOUR PHONE VIA
FREE APP.
BUT IT ALLOWS ANYONE ANYWHERE
AROUND THE WORLD -- YOU DON'T
HAVE TO ACTUALLY BE AT THE
SITE -- TO EXPLORE THE MONUMENT,
LEARN ABOUT THE NIGHT OR THOSE
NIGHTS AT STONEWALL, LEARN HOW
IT INSPIRED 50 YEARS OF
ACTIVISM, AND THEN IT ALLOWS
THEM TO TELL THEIR OWN STORY
ABOUT THEIR FIGHT FOR EQUALITY,
BE IT A MEMBER OF THE COMMUNITY,
SOMEBODY WHO WAS THERE BACK 50
YEARS AGO, OR SOMEONE WHO WASN'T
THERE BUT WHO FIGHTS FOR
TRANSGENDER RIGHTS OR FOR QUEER
RIGHTS.
>> WHAT SORT OF RESPONSES AND
REACTIONS HAVE YOU BEEN GETTING
TO IT?
>> THEY'VE BEEN PRETTY
INCREDIBLE.
JUST TALK ABOUT MY OWN PERSONAL
RESPONSE BECAUSE WE WERE JUST
LOOKING AT THE WEBSITE AND THE
APP TODAY.
BUT IT'S PRETTY -- IT'S PRETTY
AMAZING BECAUSE AS I SAID, PART
OF IT IS DIGITAL ART PROJECT.
SO ALL OF THIS INFORMATION THAT
WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO GATHER AND
WE HOPE CONTINUE TO GATHER, YOU
KNOW, PAST THIS POINT, IS ALL
ARRAYED IN AUGMENTED REALITY.
SO IF YOU GO TO THE APP AND YOU
OPEN IT UP, THE APP BRINGS YOU
ACTUALLY TO THE SITE.
AND OUT OF THE SITE YOU SEE
THESE MULTICOLORED PRISMS.
AS YOU TOUCH THE PRISMS, THE
PRISMS OPEN UP AND TELL YOU A
STORY.
AND IT LEADS YOU ON A VERY
ORGANIC NONLINEAR DISCUSSION
ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED BEFORE THE
RIOTS, WHAT HAPPENED DURING THE
RIOTS, AND AS I SAID, WHAT
HAPPENED THOSE FIVE DECADES
AFTER THE RIOTS AND HOW THE
COMMUNITY STRUGGLED FOR THEIR
EQUAL RIGHTS.
>> AND IT'S NOT JUST A
PRESENTATION OF SOME HISTORICAL
ARTIFACTS WHICH -- THERE'S LOTS
OF WAYS TO DO THAT.
IT'S REALLY INTERACTIVE.
THERE IS A WAY TO FEEL LIKE
YOU'RE PHYSICALLY AT THE SITE,
RIGHT.
THIS IS THE FIRST NATIONAL PARK
THAT INCLUDES THE LGBTQ
COMMUNITY AS PART OF ITS STORY.
THAT'S REALLY SIGNIFICANT, AND
NOT THAT PEOPLE CAN'T ATTEND,
CAN'T PHYSICALLY GO THERE.
SO THIS IS A CHANCE TO BRING
PEOPLE TO THE PARK AND FOR
PEOPLE TO BE THERE WITH THE
TECHNOLOGY WE HAVE TODAY, AND TO
ENGAGE WITH IT.
>> I THINK TWO THINGS.
ONE IS THIS IS THE RIGHT TIME
AND PLACE.
THE TECHNOLOGY IS THERE TO TELL
THE STORY IN A DIFFERENT WAY, A
MORE EFFECTIVE AND POWERFUL WAY.
AND I THINK IN LOOKING AT IT AND
HOW YOU'VE PUT IT TOGETHER --
AND YOU UNDERSTAND THIS, THAT
GREAT STORYTELLING COMES FROM
PEOPLE.
YOU CAN HAVE A STORY AND TELL IT
AND THAT'S IMPORTANT.
BUT TO GET PEOPLE WHO HAVE
EXPERIENCED SOMETHING AND TO BE
ABLE TO SHARE THEIR EXPERIENCES,
YOU KNOW, I THINK THAT IS THE
ESSENCE OF GREAT STORYTELLING.
AND CERTAINLY WHAT YOU'RE DOING
IS FULFILLING THAT MISSION.
AGAIN IT'S CALLED STONEWALL
FOREVER.
IT'S A MAGNIFICENT PROJECT.
YOU AND YOUR ORGANIZATION ARE
DOING GREAT WORK.
THANKS FOR SPENDING TIME WITH US
AND TALKING WITH US.
>> THANK YOU.
>> APPRECIATE IT.
CONGRATULATIONS ON THE WORK THAT
YOU'RE DOING.
AND FOR YOU FOLKS OUT THERE, IF
YOU'D LIKE TO CONTRIBUTE YOUR
PHOTOS AND MEMORIES FOR THE
STONEWALL RIOT AFTERWARDS, VISIT
METROFOCUS.ORG FOR MORE DETAILS.
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>> SO, I'M GOING TO BE PACKING
UP.
THIS IS MY EMT BOOK, MY BOOK FOR
EMS.
I WANTED TO WORK IN, YOU KNOW, A
SPACE WHERE I'M ABLE TO MAKE
SOMEONE'S LIFE MUCH BETTER, TO
SAVE SOMEONE'S LIFE.
IT'S SOMETHING INCREDIBLE I CAN
SHARE WITH A LOVED ONE.
I WAS ABLE TO HELP THAT PERSON
IN A TREMENDOUS WAY.
AND I DECIDED THAT MY LIFE WORK
SHOULD BE EMS.
YOU KNOW, AND I DID IT WITH JUST
LITTLE PENNIES IN MY POCKET.
I DECIDED I WAS GOING TO ENROLL
IN AN EMERGENCY PROGRAM.
AND I GOT MY EMS CERTIFICATE.
I'M GOING TO LEAVE A GOOD BOOK.
GOD WILL CARRY YOU THROUGH.
I'M GOING TO LEAVE THIS BOOK AND
SEE WHAT THE SAYINGS -- AND
THAT'S AN INDIVIDUAL WHO MIGHT
NEED THEM, YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?
>> I'M CITY COUNCILMEMBER RICHEY
TORRES.
I REPRESENT COUNCIL DISTRICT 125
WHICH IS THE CENTRAL BRONX.
THE FIRST TIME I ACKNOWLEDGED MY
SEXUALITY WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL TO
MY DEBATE COACH, WHO ALSO
HAPPENED TO BE GAY.
WHEN I FOUND SOMEONE IN MY LIFE
WHOM I ADMIRE WHO WAS ALSO LGBT,
IT INSPIRED ME TO COME OUT.
HERE IN THE BRONX, THERE ARE NO
GAY MECCAS, LIKE THE VILLAGE OR
CHELSEA.
THE LGBTQ POPULATION IN THE
BRONX IS MUCH LESS VISIBLE, MUCH
MORE DISPERSED BECAUSE
HOMOPHOBIA CONTINUES TO RUN DEEP
IN THE SOCIAL LIFE OF THE BRONX.
THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY, ESPECIALLY
IN COMMUNITIES OF COLOR,
CONTINUES TO BE A TARGET OF
DISCRIMINATION.
YOU HAVE YOUNG PEOPLE WHO
CONTINUE TO BE BULLIED IN THEIR
SCHOOLS.
YOU HAVE YOUNG PEOPLE WHO
CONTINUE TO BE EVICTED FROM
THEIR HOMES AT THE HANDS OF
THEIR OWN PARENTS.
AND A NUMBER OF YEARS AGO, I
CAME TO DISCOVER REAL GAPS IN
THE SHELTER SYSTEM AND ITS
FAILURE TO PROPERLY SERVE THE
LGBTQ COMMUNITY.
I WAS ABLE TO PERSUADE THE CITY
TO CREATE THE FIRST EVER DHS
SHELTER SPECIFICALLY FOR THE
LGBTQ COMMUNITY.
>> THIS IS AN 81-BED SINGLE
ADULT FACILITY FUNDED BY THE NEW
YORK CITY HOMELESS SERVICES.
WE WORK WITH YOUNG ADULTS
BETWEEN THE AGES OF 18 AND 30
WHO IDENTIFY AS PART OF THE
LGBTQIA PLUS COMMUNITY.
WE PROVIDE CASE MANAGEMENT
SERVICES, PEER COUNSELING,
ENTITLEMENT COORDINATION,
HOUSING COORDINATION AS WELL AS
VOCATIONAL SERVICES, INCLUDING
VOCATIONAL COUNSELING AND JOB
DEVELOPMENT.
SO WE CHOSE THE NAME OF MARCIA'S
HOUSE AFTER MARCIA P. JOHNSON.
SHE WAS A TRANSA-ACTIVIST, VERY
WELL KNOWN IN NEW YORK CITY.
SHE STARTED WORKING WITH YOUNG
TRANS LGBT YOUTH WHO WERE NOT
RECEIVING THE SERVICES THEY
NEEDED TO FUNCTION ON A
DAY-TO-DAY BASIS.
AND SHE HELPED TO PROVIDE
EMERGENCY HOUSING SERVICES,
THINGS OF THAT NATURE, TO THESE
YOUNG PEOPLE AND WE THOUGHT IT
WAS, YOU KNOW, ONLY RIGHT THAT
WE NAME THE FACILITY AFTER HER.
>> SO MY NAME IS LESLIE.
I'M 26 YEARS OF AGE.
MOVED INTO MARCIA'S HOUSE IN
SEPTEMBER OF 2018.
I WAS ACTUALLY BORN IN JAMAICA
AND I WAS RASZED IN THE BAHAMAS.
IT'S BEEN A LONG JOURNEY.
I FEEL LIKE I'M STILL ON MY
JOURNEY, STILL MOVING, TRYING TO
DO WHAT I NEED TO DO.
I ALWAYS KNEW THAT I WAS
DIFFERENT FROM OTHER GUYS.
I ALWAYS KNEW THAT I FELT
DIFFERENT FROM OTHER GUYS.
I ALWAYS KNEW THAT I ACT
DIFFERENT FROM OTHER GUYS.
YOU KNOW, IT MADE ME FEEL
DIFFERENT FROM THEM AS WELL.
THE F WORD, FAG, GAY -- THESE
DIFFERENT TERMS FOLLOWED ME FROM
REALLY YOUNG TO MY LATE TEENS.
MY MOM FOUND OUT I WAS GAY.
PEOPLE BULLIED ME BECAUSE I WAS
GAY.
I FELT LIKE I HAD NO ONE TO TALK
TO.
AND BEING IN THE CARIBBEAN AND
GROWING UP IN THE CARIBBEAN,
IT'S TOUGH.
AND AT THIS PARTICULAR POINT IN
MY LIFE, AT AGE 16, I TRIED TO
COMMIT SUICIDE.
IT FELT LIKE THE WORLD WAS
CAVING IN ON ME.
IT FELT LIKE THE BEST THING TO
DO WAS TO TAKE MY LIFE.
THE NEXT BEST THING WAS TO GET
RID OF MYSELF BECAUSE CLEARLY NO
ONE WANTED ME AROUND.
EVEN MY ADULT LIFE, THERE WAS
NAME CALLING.
JUST A LOT OF NEGATIVITY.
THAT'S WHY I TOOK THE STEP TO
MOVE TO A CITY THAT WOULD BE
MORE ACCEPTING OF MY LIFE-STYLE
AND WHO I REALLY AM AND MY
TRUTH.
I MOVED.
I MOVED AND I WAS STAYING WITH A
RELATIVE AND THAT DIDN'T END
WELL.
AND I WAS PUT ON THE STREET
BASICALLY.
WHEN YOU REACH TO YOUR LOWEST
POINT AND YOU REACH A PART OF
YOUR LIFE WHERE YOU FEEL LIKE
THERE IS NO OTHER PLACE, THERE'S
NO OTHER PERSON AROUND, AND
THERE'S NO OTHER WAY AND YOU
REALIZE THEN THAT GOD IS YOUR
ROCK.
>> A NUMBER OF YEARS AGO, IF YOU
WERE A 21-YEAR-OLD LGBTQ YOUTH
WHO HAD BEEN EVICTED FROM YOUR
OWN HOME BY YOUR OWN PARENTS, IT
WAS OFTEN TOO DANGEROUS FOR YOU
TO GO INTO A DHS SINGLE ADULT
SHELTER.
YOU WERE ALSO INELIGIBLE FOR DIY
CITY YOUTH SHELTER WHICH SERVES
YOUTH UP TO 21 AT THE TIME.
AND ONLY A MAXIMUM OF OF 0 DAYS.
TO EXPECT SOMEONE TO RECEIVE
SHELTER OVER THE COURSE OF 60
DAYS AND MAGICALLY FIND
PERMANENT HOUSING IS
UNREALISTIC.
AND WHAT'S WONDERFUL ABOUT
MARCIA'S HOUSE, IT PROVIDES
SHELTER SPECIFICALLY ORIENTED
FOR THE LGBT COMMUNITY SO IT
FUNCTIONS AS A SAFE SPACE, FREE
OF HARASSMENT, DISCRIMINATION,
AND VIOLENCE.
AND FOR THE FIRST TIME THE LGBTQ
COMMUNITY HAS A SHELTER DESIGNED
SPECIFICALLY WITH THEM IN MIND,
WITH US IN MIND, BEING A MEMBER
OF THAT COMMUNITY MYSELF.
>> DIFFERENT SPACES PROVIDE
DIFFERENT ENERGY.
IF YOU'RE IN AIMEN'S SHELTER, AN
ALL MEN STRAIGHT SHELTER, YOU'RE
NOT GOING TO SEE TWO MEN HUGGING
AND KISSING AND ALL OF THAT, YOU
KNOW WHAT I MEAN?
BEING QUEER, FRIENDLY, YOU'RE
JUST NOT GOING TO BE THAT.
AND MARCIA'S HOUSE IS THE FIRST.
I ACTUALLY SEE PEOPLE, YOU KNOW,
BEING THEMSELVES, YOU KNOW,
EXPRESSING WHO THEY REALLY ARE.
>> WE ARE WORKING WITH PEOPLE
WHO ARE IN SOMETIMES THE MOST
TRYING POINT IN THEIR LIVES, AND
OFTENTIMES THERE IS A LACK OF
SUPPORT SYSTEM, WHICH WE ALL
NEED A SUPPORT SYSTEM TO ACHIEVE
THE GOALS WE SET FOR OURSELVES.
IN ANYONE'S LIFETIME, OBSTACLES
ARE GOING TO BE MANY.
BUT WHAT THESE YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE
SHOWN ME IS THAT YOU CAN
CONTINUE TO GROW THROUGH THE
PAIN.
AND I THINK THAT THAT'S ONE OF
THE KEY TAKE AWAYS FROM MY DAY
TO DAY INTERACTIONS WITH THEM.
>> WE'RE IN A SHELTER THAT
PRIMARILY SERVES LGBTQ YOUTH OF
COLOR.
IF YOU'RE AN LGBTQ YOUTH OF
COLOR, YOU RARELY SEE
REPRESENTATIONS OF YOURSELF IN
THE MEDIA.
HERE YOU HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO
REPRESENT YOURSELF THROUGH YOUR
OWN THOUGHTS, THROUGH YOUR OWN
IMAGES, ON YOUR OWN TERMS.
THE CREATION OF A MURAL CAN BE
AN EXERCISE IN SELF-EMPOWERMENT.
YOU SEE IMAGES OF AFFECTION,
IMAGES OF SUPPORT AND
TOGETHERNESS, EVERYONE EMBRACING
EACH OTHER, STANDING TOGETHER,
AND YOU HAVE MARCIA JOHNSON
LOOKING AS THOUGH SHE'S IN
HEAVEN LOOKING DOWN WITH PRIDE
THAT HER DREAM OF AOMORI KWAL
SOCIETY HAS BECOME A REALITY.
>> LET'S HOPE AND PRAY, LET'S
PUT IT IN THE ATMOSPHERE.
I'LL PUT IT IN THE ATMOSPHERE.
I HOPE THEY LEAVE BEFORE THIS
AIRS.
I'M GOING TO STAY THANKFUL.
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>> PROUD OF YOU, MAN.
>> THANK YOU.
>> YOU DID IT.
YOU TOOK EVERY STEP YOU NEEDED
TO TAKE AND YOU REALLY MADE SURE
THAT YOU STAYED ON TRACK AND
KEPT YOUR SPIRITS HIGH AND YOU
EARNED EVERYTHING YOU GOT NOW.
SO IT'S REALLY JUST A TESTAMENT
TO THE HUMAN SPIRIT AND WHAT YOU
CAN DO WHEN YOU REALLY FOCUS AND
YOU TAKE OBSTACLES AS
OPPORTUNITIES.
>> YES.
>> AND I'M REALLY PROUD OF YOU.
WE'RE ALL REALLY PROUD OF YOU.
YOU WORKED YOUR WAY THROUGH
IMMIGRATION ISSUES, ENROLLED IN
SCHOOL ALL WHILE WORKING AND
PICK UP A SECOND JOB AND SAVED
THIS MONEY AND WENT TO HR A.
APPOINTMENTS WHEN WE NEEDED HIM
TO.
AND WHEN THERE WERE ISSUES WITH
THE PAPERWORK, NO MATTER HOW
MANY TIMES, HE PUSHED THROUGH.
ALL WHILE WEARING A SMILE ON HIS
FACE, YOU KNOW.
AND ALL WHILE -- WHILE INSPIRING
OTHERS TO KEEP GOING.
IT REALLY JUST -- IT'S THE
REASON THAT WE'RE HERE.
IT'S THE REASON THAT WE COME TO
WORK EVERY DAY, FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
LIKE HIM TO HAVE A SHOT.
YOU KNOW, LOOK WHAT YOU DO WITH
IT.
>> YOU'RE HEARING THIS.
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO HEAR THAT
FOR YOU?
>> IT'S JUST -- IT'S JUST LIKE,
YOU KNOW, WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE
YOUR LIFE IS SAD, YOU KNOW, YOU
FEEL LIKE -- HOW MUCH MORE CAN I
TAKE?
HOW MUCH MORE CAN I ACTUALLY PUT
IN?
HOW MUCH MORE AM I WILLING TO
SACRIFICE?
AND I JUST KEPT PUSHING AND I'M
JUST HAPPY THAT I'M ABLE TO HEAR
IT FROM SOMEONE WHO SAW, YOU
KNOW, THAT I WAS DOING IT, AND
THEY SAW THAT I WAS TRYING TO
PUT IN THE WORK AND THEY SAW
THAT I WAS RESILIENT AND I KEPT
GOING, NO MATTER HOW MANY DOORS
KEPT SLAMMING IN MY FACE, I KEPT
CREEPING AROUND INTO THE
WINDOWS.
I FEEL LIKE WHEN YOU'RE BROKEN
AND MOST PEOPLE, IT REALLY
DEPENDS ON THE INDIVIDUAL, A
FIGHTER IN THEM.
AND I HOPE THIS INSPIRES AND
TELLS -- LEAVE A POSITIVE
PICTURE TO SOMEONE ELSE THAT
SOMETIMES WHEN WE GET BROKEN,
IT'S REALLY TOUGH TO FIND THAT
RESILIENT SPIRIT IN US TO KEEP
FIGHTING BECAUSE I COULD HAVE
GIVE UP.
I COULD HAVE FAILED OUT ON
DRUGS, I COULD HAVE END UP IN
SEX WORK.
I COULD HAVE DECIDED TO JUST
KILL MYSELF BECAUSE I WAS VERY
LOW AND HURT AT THAT POINT IN MY
LIFE.
BUT LOOK AT ME TODAY.
>> THANK YOU.
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>> JUST TAKE YOU GUYS IN THE
ROOM.
WHY ARE YOU --
>> AH, YES.
I HAVE AFFIRMATIONS ALL OVER THE
ROOM.
JUST A LITTLE REMINDER OF THINGS
THAT KEEP ME GOING.
THINGS THAT KEEP MY MIND FOCUSED
AND ON TRACK.
THIS IS MY FAVORITE THING IN THE
ROOM.
WHICH IS MY MIRROR.
I LOVE THE MIRROR.
I'M GOING TO BE DOING A LITTLE
BIT OF CHANGING UP TO IT, BUT
THIS IS ME FOR NOW.
ONE WEEKEND.
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"METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE BY
JAMES AND MERRILL TISCH.
SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III.
THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA
PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT
ANTI-SEMITISM.
BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARZ.
ROSALIND P. WALTER.
BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG.
AND BY --

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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