MetroFocus: July 28, 2021

Fifty years after Stonewall, what does life look like for LGBTQ2+ youth in New York? “Pier Kids,” a new documentary film from POV, transports viewers to the Christopher Street pier, a place where homeless queer Black youth have forged community and family. The film shines a light on the lives of amazing young people who have been marginalized by society, and chronicles how they have created an oasis for themselves in the piers, exposing a side of New York many people choose to ignore. “Pier Kids” director Elegance Bratton joins us along with one of the principal participants in the film, Krystal Labeija as part of our “Chasing the Dream” initiative on poverty, justice and economic opportunity in America.

For more information on “Pier Kids,” click here.

 

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Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America is a multi-platform public media initiative that provides a deeper understanding of the impact of poverty on American society. Major funding for this initiative is provided by The JPB Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation.

TRANSCRIPT

♪ ♪

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANTZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C.

AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

THE JPB FOUNDATION.

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

50 YEARS AFTER STONEWALL, WHAT DOES LIFE LOOK LIKE FOR LGBTQ PLUS YOUTH IN NEW YORK?

THE NEW DOCUMENTARY 'PIER KIDS' TRANSPORTS VIEWERS TO THE CHRISTOPHER STREET PIER, A PLACE WHERE HOMELESS BLACK YOUTH HAVE FORGED COMMUNITY AND FAMILY.

THE FILM SHINES A LIGHT ON THE LIVES OF AMAZING YOUNG PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN MARGINALIZED BY SOCIETY AND CHRONICLES HOW THEY HAVE CREATED AN OASIS FOR THEMSELVES IN THE PIERS, EXPOSING A SIDE OF NEW YORK MANY PEOPLE CHOOSE TO IGNORE.

HERE'S A PREVIEW.

THIS WHOLE VILLAGE IS ANOTHER WORLD INSIDE OF A WORLD.

HOMELESS YOUTH COME THIS THIS AREA BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT WE KNOW IS A SAFE ZONE.

THIS IS WHERE WE SOCIALIZE.

THE POLICE MAKE IT SEEM LIKE THEY'RE GOING TO STOP US.

WE'RE HOMELESS, SO WE TURN TO THE LIFESTYLE.

ALL I'M ASKING YOU TO DO IS JUST SEE ME.

THAT'S IT.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH TAKING THIS LIFESTYLE, SETTING IT OUTSIDE YOUR MOTHER'S DOOR?

I'M TIRED OF DOING THAT.

♪ ♪

> JOINING ME NOW AS PART OF OUR CHASING THE DREAM INITIATIVE ON POVERTY, JUSTICE AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY IN AMERICA IS THE DIRECTOR OF 'PIER KIDS' ELEGANCE BRATTON.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

IT'S A PLEASURE TO BE HERE.

IT'S GREAT TO HAVE YOU ON AS WELL.

WE'RE ALSO JOINED TONIGHT BY ONE OF THE PRINCIPAL PARTICIPANTS IN THE FILM KRYSTAL LABEIJA.

IT'S A PLEASURE TO BE HERE AS WELL.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

SO, ELEGANCE, I WANT TO START WITH WHAT MIGHT BE AN OBVIOUS QUESTION, BUT STILL WORTH ASKING.

THAT IS, HOW DID THIS FILM COME TO BE?

AND WHAT WAS IT YOU WERE HOPING TO CAPTURE WHEN YOU FIRST PICKED UP THE CAMERA?

THIS FILM COMES FROM A VERY PERSONAL PLACE.

I SPENT TEN YEARS OF MY LIFE HOMELESS, 16-25.

I'M FROM NORTH JERSEY, RIGHT ACROSS THE RIVER FROM THE PIER, SO I ENDED UP THERE.

I FOUND A PLACE I WAS DEEPLY UNDERSTOOD.

A DECADE OR SO LATER I FINISHED A TOUR OF DUTY IN THE MARINE CORPS.

I WENT TO COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY.

THEY GAVE ME AN ASSIGNMENT.

I WAS FINISHING SCHOOL AND REALIZING THAT THE BIOLOGICAL FAMILY MY CLASSMATES DEPENDING ONTO MARK THEIR PROGRESS THROUGH THEIR EDUCATION, I DIDN'T HAVE THAT.

SO IN THAT PROCESS OF TRYING TO UNDERSTAND WHERE HOME WAS AND ALSO TRYING TO FULFILL MY GRADES, I KIND OF LOOKED AROUND ONE DAY AND REALIZED, OH WOW, I'M HERE ON CHRISTOPHER STREET ASKING MYSELF THOSE QUESTIONS.

I LOOKED AROUND AGAIN AND SAW PEOPLE WHO LOOKED LIKE ME, WHO WERE BLACK LIKE ME, WHO WERE QUEER LIKE ME.

I PICKED UP THE CAMERA AND STARTED THE PROCESS.

WHAT I WAS HOPING TO GET OUT OF THIS WAS TO SHOW PEOPLE THE IMPORTANCE OF PUBLIC SPACE FOR YOUNG COMMUNITIES OF COLOR AND ALSO TO HELP WORKING CLASS COMMUNITIES OF COLOR HAVE A LANGUAGE AROUND CORE IDENTITY AND STOP KICKING THEIR KIDS OUT OF THEIR HOUSES.

I DO WANT TO COME BACK TO THAT ISSUE OF A PLACE FOR PEOPLE WHO DON'T HAVE A PLACE.

KRYSTAL, I WANT TO ASK YOU HOW DID YOU COME TO BE INVOLVED WITH THE FILM?

SO AS YOU MENTIONED ABOUT SHARING CAMARADERIE OR LIKE EXPERIENCES WITH THOSE INDIVIDUALS MAKES THEM YOUR CHOSEN FAMILY.

FOR THAT PURPOSE, BEING THE MAMA BEAR I AM, I SAW A YOUNG VIBRANT MELONATED INDIVIDUAL WITH A CAMERA AT A SENSITIVE TIME IN THEIR LIFE.

THEY WERE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF SUBSTANCES TO GET AWAY FROM THEIR DAILY HARDSHIPS.

I JUST DIDN'T WANT THEM TO BE TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF.

WHEN I SEE HIM WITH PROFESSIONAL QUALITY.

EQUI EQUIPMENT I CAME UP TO HIM AND SAID WHAT ARE YOU RECORDING FOR, WHAT IS THIS FOR?

I KNEW THE QUESTIONS I COULD ASK TO SEE WHAT THIS FOOTAGE WOULD BE USED FOR, BECAUSE THEY PROBABLY WOULDN'T KNOW WHY SOMEONE'S RECORDING THEM.

THEY JUST SEE A CAMERA AND, HEY, I'M ON TV.

I JUST WANTED TO MAKE SURE IT WAS GOING TO BE USED IN A PROPER LIGHT.

IN TURN, HE ASKED TO FOLLOW UP WITH ME BECAUSE HE DIDN'T SELECT HIS STAFF AT THAT TIME.

THAT'S WHEN HE FOLLOWED UP WITH ME AND SAID HE'D LIKE TO -- OUR FRIENDSHIP GREW BECAUSE I KNOW FOR MOST DOCUMENTARIES IT'S TRADITIONAL THEY DON'T INTERACT OR GET ON CAMERA WITH THE PARTICIPANT.

I WAS NEW TO NEW YORK CITY AND SO I TOLD HIM I'M TRANSITIONING TO BE WOMAN, NOT TRANSITIONING TO BE OTHER.

IF I'M GOING TO BE TRANSPARENT ON MY PROCESS, I NEED YOU TO BE MY FRIEND.

OTHERWISE A RANDOM PERSON WOULDN'T GET THIS INFORMATION BECAUSE I WOULDN'T FEEL COMFORTABLE TO DO THAT.

I NEED TO DO THIS SO THAT OTHER KIDS WHO COME FROM RURAL COMMUNITIES AND CONSERVATIVE TOWNS CAN KNOW THERE'S A WAY TO GET IT DONE IF THEY HAVE THE DRIVE OR THE DEDICATION TO DO SO.

THROUGH IT ALL, YOU CAN STILL ACHIEVE YOUR WOMANHOOD WITHOUT ASSISTANCE OR SUPPORT, BECAUSE THERE IS OTHER SUPPORT OUT THERE.

YOU JUST HAVE TO SEEK IT.

KRYSTAL, YOU TOUCHED ON SO MANY OF THE THEMES OF THE FILM.

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT COMES THROUGH SO VERY CLEAR WITH ALL OF THE PARTICIPANTS IS THAT SENSE OF FAMILY THAT YOU BOTH MENTIONED.

SINCE YOU REFERRED TO YOURSELF AS A MAMA BAEAR, I'M WONDERING HOW YOU SEE FAMILY DEVELOPING FOR THE YOUNG PEOPLE WHO GRAVITATE TOWARDS CHRISTOPHER STREET.

HOW DOES THAT FAMILY COME TOGETHER?

WHAT ARE THOSE FAMILY BONDS LIKE?

AND PERHAPS HOW ARE THEY DIFFERENT FROM THE FAMILIES THEY CAME FROM?

WELL, OFTENTIMES WHEN YOU'RE RESTRICTED TO JUST PUBLIC HOUSING OR SHELTERS, HOMELESSNESS LOOKS DIFFERENT FOR BLACK INDIVIDUALS BECAUSE WE ARE DEALING WITH DISCRIMINATION WITHIN THE SHELTER SYSTEM AND JUST NOT HAVING ENOUGH BEDS.

IF YOU'RE WORKING OR FULFILLING THE REQUIREMENTS OF, YOU KNOW, YOUR CASEWORKER'S GOAL FOR THE WEEK, YOU OFTEN TIMES HAVE NO TIME TO GET IN LINE TO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A BED THE NEXT DAY.

SO WE KIND OF RELY ON EACH OTHER IN AS WE SAY COUCH SURFING, SLEEPING AT SOMEONE'S HOUSE THAT'S ALREADY BEEN PLACED, JUST RELIEVING YOURSELF FROM THE WOES OF THE WEEK.

YOU GET MORE NOES THAN YOU GET YES BECAUSE OF STEREOTYPES AND THINGS OF THAT SORT.

SO WE LEAN ON EACH OTHER.

THEY ALWAYS SAY BLOOD IS THICKER THAN WATER, BUT FOR ME BLOOD DOESN'T KNOW WHAT I WENT THROUGH YET, THEY DON'T KNOW MY FAVORITE MOVIE OF TOMORROW, THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT I DID LAST MONTH AND WHY IT WAS HARD.

THESE PEOPLE AROUND ME DO.

SO FOR ME, FAMILY IS THOSE WHO WITNESS YOUR EXISTENCE.

THE ONES WHO WITNESS YOUR EXISTENCE THE MOST ARE CHOSEN FAMILY.

THAT'S HOW PIER IS.

WE GO BACK TO CHECK IN WITH EACH OTHER TO MAKE SURE EVERYONE IS STILL THERE.

IF NOTHING MORE, YOU WALK AROUND AND YOU ARE ABLE TO CHECK IN WITH SOMEONE TO SAY I'M STILL HERE.

WE DO KNOW THAT TRANS LIVES, ALTHOUGH THEY MATTER, THERE'S IGNORANCE IN OUR COMMUNITY.

OFTEN TIMES MY SISTERS AND BROTHERS ARE DYING BY THE HANDS OF POLICE OR THE COMMUNITY.

TOMORROW I MAY NOT SEE MY SISTER SO CHECKING SPACES LIKE THE PIER IS ONE WAY TO KNOW THAT MY SISTER MADE IT THROUGH ANOTHER DAY.

ELEGANCE, I SEE YOW U NODDIN YOUR HEAD TO ALL OF THIS.

IT'S SUCH A PLEASURE TO DO THIS INTERVIEW WITH KRYSTAL BECAUSE WE HAVE THESE CONVERSATIONS SO MUCH IN PRIVATE, IT'S GREAT TO HEAR YOU SPEAKING YOUR TRUTH.

FOR ME, FAMILY IS WHERE YOU'RE MOST DEEPLY UNDERSTOOD AND THAT IS WHAT HOME IS.

CHRISTOPHER STREET, THESE YOUNG PEOPLE MAKE EACH OTHER THEIR HOME, SO TO SPEAK BY WITNESSING ONE ANOTHER'S EXISTENCE AND CARING ABOUT THE OUTCOME OF ONE ANOTHER'S HOPES AND ASPIRATIONS AND TURNING EACH OTHER INTO OUR OWN KIND OF FAMILY HOME.

IF I'M OUTSIDE ON THE CORNER WITH YOU, I'M AS MUCH AT HOME WITH YOU AS IF I WAS IN A SHELTERED PLACE.

THAT SPIRITUAL HOME MAKES IT A LITTLE BIT EASIER TO WITHSTAND NOT HAVING A HOME AND ALSO GIVE YOU A BASE TO ACTUALLY FIND A TANGIBLE MOMENT OF THAT KIND OF SUPPORT.

SO ONE OF THE OTHER THINGS I FOUND INCREDIBLY MOVING AND IMPORTANT WAS THE REALIZATION OF HOW MUCH OF A LOT OF TRENDS AND CULTURE THAT A LOT OF US CONSUME IN MAINSTREAM AMERICA SEEMS TO FIND ITS GENESIS WITHIN THIS COMMUNITY.

EVERYTHING FROM MUSIC TYPES TO DANCING TO FASHION TO LANGUAGE, ALL OF THESE THINGS.

SO I WANT TO GET BOTH OF YOUR PERSPECTIVES ON THE FACT THAT THERE IS DEFINITELY A LEVEL OF APPRECIATION, LET'S SAY, FOR THE CULTURE THAT'S CREATED.

DO YOU FEEL AS THOUGH THAT TRANSLATES TO THE PEOPLE CREATING IT?

ELEGANCE, I'LL START WITH YOU.

I THINK IT'S A REALLY GREAT QUESTION AND THERE'S A LOT OF GRAY AREA TO EXPLORE IN ANSWERING IT.

THE SHORT ANSWER IS, THERE IS CLEARLY A DISCONNECT BETWEEN THE APPRECIATION OF THE CULTURAL FORM GENERATED BY BLACK QUEER PEOPLE AND THE QUALITY OF LIFE THAT BLACK QUEER PEOPLE EXPERIENCE TODAY.

THERE'S SOMETHING BETWEEN THE POSITIVE IMPACT AND THE ACTUAL LIVED EXPERIENCE.

THAT BEING SAID, I DO THINK THAT BLACK QUEER PERFORMANCE CULTURE -- AND A HUGE PART OF MY PERSONAL THESIS AS A BLACK ARTIST IS THAT ALTHOUGH WE'RE QUEER WE'RE STILL PART OF THE OVERALL TRADITION OF BLACK ENTERTAINMENT IN AMERICA, WHICH HAS ALWAYS BEEN A SITE OF POLITICAL AGITATION AND TRANSFORMATION, RIGHT?

BECAUSE WHEN YOU'RE DENIED ACCESS TO THE MEANING OF DEMOCRACY THROUGH VOTING AND LANDOWNER SSHIP AND FINANCIAL OPPORTUNITY AND THINGS OF THAT NATURE, CREATIVE OPPORTUNITIES BECOME THE ONLY SPACE THROUGH NOT ONLY CAN YOU BE HEARD, BUT THE PEOPLE YOU REPRESENT CAN BE IMAGINED.

WHEN WE THINK OF RAGTIME, SOUL, BLUES, SO MUCH OF THE NARRATIVE OF THAT CULTURE IS THE NARRATIVE OF BLACK PEOPLE.

WITH THAT IN MIND, I DO THINK THAT THE REPRESENTATION OF HAVING TRANS PEOPLE -- WHEN I LOOK AT THE PARIS IS BURNING GENERAL RTION AND I LOOK AT RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE AND PEOPLE BECOMING FAMOUS AND RUSH BEING BLACK AND QUEER AND PEOPLE WHO WERE NOT MAKING MILLIONS OF DOLLARS BEING THEMSELVES BUT CREATING A MODEL AT WHICH OTHERS COULD COME IN AND START TO MONETIZE.

ALTHOUGH THERE IS A DRAG, EXCUSE THE PUN, BETWEEN HOW WE CONSUME BLACK CULTURAL PRODUCTION VERSUS HOW WE SUPPORT BLACK PEOPLE LIVING SO THEY CAN ACTUALLY MAKE THESE THINGS, I DO THINK THAT EVERY ACT OF PERFORMANCE, EVERY ACT OF REPRESENTATION IS A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION THAT ALLOWS OTHER PEOPLE ONCE YOU KICK THAT DOOR OPEN A LITTLE BIT, NOW MORE PEOPLE CAN COME IN AND PEOPLE LIKE KRYSTAL ARE ABLE TO STAND ON THOSE SUCCESSES OF THE PREVIOUS GENERATION AND THAT SUCCESS IS THROUGH PERFORMANCE.

KRYSTAL, WE'VE DONE SEVERAL STORIES HERE AT 13 TALKING ABOUT THE CULTURE AND COMMUNITY THAT SORT OF EXISTS WITHIN THE CHRISTOPHER STREET PIERS OR THE LARGER NEIGHBORHOOD AROUND IT.

I FEEL LIKE THERE'S SO MUCH THAT PEOPLE HAVE HEARD ABOUT, YET AT THE SAME TIME THIS IS A NEIGHBORHOOD THAT HAS BEEN GENT GE GENTRYFIING V GENTRYFING VERY QUICKLY.

WHAT ARE YOUR CONCERNS OF PRESERVING THE CULTURE?

YES.

SO MY OPINION IN REGARDS TO THAT IS IT DID PLACE A LOT OF COMMUNITY THAT MANHATTAN SETS UP TO RECEIVE MINI GRANTS TO SUPPORT WHICH IS THE BLACK AND BROWN LGBTQ COMMUNITY.

THEY RECEIVE ALL THIS FUNDING TO SUPPORT A COMMUNITY THAT CAN'T EVEN SLEEP OR REST OR AFFORD USING THE CITY VOUCHERS A PLACE TO STAY IN THAT SAME BOROUGH.

SO IN TURN THEY GO TO THE PIER.

AS THEY MAKE IT PRETTIER OR MORE APPEALING TO THE TOURISTS, IT GIVES AN EXCUSE TO PUSH OUT THE COMMUNITY IN WHICH THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO BE SUPPORTING OR THEY'RE PAID TO DO SO.

I'M THANK FFUL THEY'RE CLEANINGT UP, BUT I WISH THEY DIDN'T HAVE SUCH A HARD STANCE AGAINST THOSE WHO HAVE ALWAYS BEEN THERE, EACH BEFORE PEOPLE COULD WORK OUT ON THE TURF, EVEN BEFORE THEY HAD A RESTAURANT OR A BOARDWALK.

YOU SAW PEOPLE FROM THE COMMUNITY AND YOU SAW BLACK QUEER FOLKS OF ALL STATES AND TOWNS AND COUNTRIES COMING TO FIND SAFETY IN THE MEAT PACKING DISTRICT, AKA THE PIER.

I JUST WANT TO PIGGYBACK OFF THAT TOO.

WHEN WE SAY WORDS LIKE GENTRIFICATION, IMPLICIT IN THAT BO WORD IS ETHNIC CLEANSING.

THE VALUE OF COMMUNITIES ARE DETERMINED BY WHO'S OUTSIDE VISIBLE IN THOSE COMMUNITIES.

WHEN WE SAY SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE GENTRY FIED WHAT WE ARE MOBILIZING IN THAT WORD IS A POLICE RESPONSE TO THOSE INDIVIDUALS THAT ARE DEEMED WORTHLESS, TROUBLESOME TO PROPERTY VALUE.

IMPLICIT IN GENTRIFICATION IF YOU'RE GENTRY FIEING A PLACE, PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT THROUGH YOUR PRESENCE YOU'RE INVOKING POLICE BRUTALITY CERTAINLY AND MORE THAN LIKELY THAT BRUTALITY HAS BEEN DIRECTED AT PEOPLE OF COLOR WRIT LARGE.

WITH ALL OF THAT, WITH THIS VIBRANT CHOSEN FAMILY COMMUNITY THAT SORT OF HAS EXIST ED WITHI AND AROUND THE CHELSEA PIER FOR SO LONG, WHERE DO YOU SEE THE SUPPORT FOR THE LARGER LGBTQ PLUS COMMUNITY?

I THINK MANY NEW YORKERS KNOW THAT THE CHELSEA PIERS IS PART OF GAY HISTORY.

STONEWALL IS RIGHT THERE, ET CETERA.

AND YET THE NEEDS OF THE COMMUNITY THAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT, BLACK AND BROWN LGBTQ YOUTH HASN'T NECESSARILY BEEN PUT FRONT AND CENTER IN THE, FOR LACK OF A BETTER DESCRIPTION, GAY RIGHTS MOVEMENT.

THE WHOLE PURPOSE OF PIER KIDS IS TO REDIRECT THE GAY RIGHTS MOVEMENT TOWARDS SOLVING THE ISSUE OF QUEER YOUTH HOMELESSNESS.

DON'T GET IT TWISTED.

WHILE BLACK AND BROWN KIDS ARE EXPERIENCING THE WORST OF IT, OUT OF AMERICA'S HOMELESS YOUTH, 60% OF THEM ARE LGBTQ REGARDLESS OF THE COLOR OF THEIR SKIN OR ETHNICITY.

WHEN WE THINK ABOUT STONEWALL, WE THINK WHAT REALLY HAPPENED IS THE PEOPLE WHO HAD THE MOST TO GAIN AND THE LEAST TO LOSE DECIDED TO FIGHT AND STAND UP FOR THEIR OWN RIGHTS.

FAST FORWARD 50 YEARS, WE'VE GOT GAY MARRIAGE, GAYS IN THE MILITARY, HIV AND AIDS BY THE GRACE OF GOD IS A CHRONIC LIFELONG ILLNESS, NOT A DEATH SENTENCE.

AND WE HAVE BLACK AND BROWN TRANS WOMEN, QUEER, HOMELESS PEOPLE, PIER KIDS, STREET KIDS TO THANK FOR THESE OUTCOMES.

IN MY MIND, NOW THAT THAT'S BEEN DONE WHAT IS THE GAY RIGHTS MOVEMENT IF IT'S NOT DEALING WITH QUEER YOUTH HOMELESSNESS?

I BELIEVE THAT EVERYBODY WHO'S LGBTQ IS A PIER KID.

ALL THE CHILDREN ARE SYLVIA AND MARSHA AND THE PEOPLE WHO LOOK LIKE THEM.

ALL THESE KIDS ON THE STREET, THEY'RE OUR KIDS.

THEY'RE NOT SOME AMORPHOUS PROBLEM.

THEY'RE OUR COMMUNITY, OUR FUTURE.

THERE IS NO GAY COMMUNITY WITHOUT THEM GOING FORWARD.

IT'S ON US AS THOSE OF US WHO HAVE THE PRIVILEGE AND THE STABILITY AND THE SPACE TO KNOW BETTER, IT'S TIME FOR US TO DO BETTER AND TAKE THIS ON AS OUR MAIN ISSUE.

WHERE IS THE HOUSING, WHERE IS THE EDUCATION, WHERE IS THE FOOD?

WHAT ARE WE DOING AS A COMMUNITY TO MAKE OUR GAY RIGHTS MOVEMENT MATTER IN THE 21st CENTURY?

I THINK SOLVING QUEER YOUTH HOMELESSNESS AND PROVIDING HELP TO WORKING CLA IING CLASS PEOPLR TO UNDERSTAND QUEER KIDS.

I THINK THE GAY RIGHTS MOVEMENT HAS LEFT BEHIND BLACK KIDS IN EXCHANGE FOR THE ABILITY TO BE LIKE HETEROSEXUALS.

THAT'S FINE.

IT'S PART OF A STRATEGY FOR EQUAL RIGHTS.

HOWEVER, NOW THAT WE'VE ACCOMPLISHED GAY MARRIAGE I DO NOT BELIEVE SYLVIA AND MARSHA TOOK ALL THOSE HITS IN THE HEAD FROM COPS JUST SO UPFOR UPPER MIDDLE CLASS.

OKAY.

I JUST WANTED TO ALSO BRING ATTENTION TO THE FACT THAT ALTHOU ALTHOUGH -- IT CELEBRATES A COMMUNITY THAT WAS FOUNDED BY ANOTHER BLACK TRANS WOMAN NAMED KRYSTAL LABEIJA.

THE FUNNY THING IS AS WE SAY WHAT WE NEED OR WHAT WE'VE ALWAYS NEEDED WAS HOUSES.

PEOPLE IN THE BLACK QUEER COMMUNITY, THE REASON WHY THOSE WERE FORMED WAS TO PROVIDE SUPPORT TO BLACK QUEER COMMUNITIES FIRST.

THEN WE TALK ABOUT HOW TO SURVIVE IN THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCT THAT WAS GEARED TOWARD HETERO NORMATIVE INITIATIVES.

WITH THAT BEING SAID, IT STILL COMES BACK TO HOUSES IS WHAT HAS ALWAYS BE NEEDED.

AS WE CELEBRATE THE COMMUNITY, WE HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT EVERYONE WHO'S PARTICIPATING IN SOME WAY IS HANGING ON BY A SCREEN TO HOUSING OR THEY'RE BORROWING HOUSING FROM OTHER MEMBERS WITHIN THE HOUSE THAT HAVE STABILITY.

IT WON'T BE RECTIFIED AND WE WON'T STOP SEEING US MAKE NOISE UNTIL WE ARE ABLE TO HAVE THE ONE NEED TO SECURE OUR ACHIEVEMENTS, WHICH IS SAFE HOUSING.

OKAY.

I WAS WONDERING, THOUGH, IF YOU COULD TALK, BECAUSE PEOPLE MIGHT SAY, WELL, ISN'T THERE HOUSING THAT'S INTENDED FOR THE HOMELESS, PERIOD?

WHY DO YOU NEED SOMETHING SEPARATE IN TERMS OF HOUSING?

I WAS WONDERING IF YOU COULD SPEAK TO THAT, KRYSTAL.

FOR ME IT'S NOT HAVING SOMETHING SEPARATE.

WHEN YOU'RE IN THE CITY SYSTEM, THE PROBLEM IS WHEN IT COMES TO THE BUDGET THAT THEY PROVIDE, IT'S NOT ENOUGH TO WHERE A REALTOR IS BENEFITTED BY PROVIDING YOU THAT SPACE.

FOR ANYONE COMING FROM A SHELTER, THEY HAVE STIGMAS THAT THEY ARE DRUG ADDICTS OR THEY'RE DEALING WITH MENTAL ILLNESSES, SO THAT COULD BE PROBLEMATIC WITH THEIR FACILITY.

SO THE VOUCHERS THAT MOST, UNLESS YOU ARE HIV POSITIVE, THE VOUCHERS THAT YOU RECEIVE ARE NOT SUFFICIENT ENOUGH TO EVEN GET HOUSING IN A SAFE ENVIRONMENT.

GIVEN ALL THE STATISTICS THAT SHOWS IN THE NEIGHBORHOODS IN WHICH MOST HATE CRIMES OR VIOLENCE TAKES PLACE, YOU WOULD THINK THAT ONLY LEAVES ONE OTHER OPTION, WHICH OUR VOUCHERS REALLY CAN'T AFFORD US THE OPPORTUNITY TO STAY.

IT'S MORE SO PROVIDING MORE FUNDING FOR VOUCHERS IN GENERAL SO WE CAN HAVE THE OPTION TO SEARCH NEIGHBORHOODS THAT ARE BETTER FITTED FOR OUR SAFETY AND OUR LIVELIHOOD AND OUR LIFESTYLE, IN MY OPINION.

TO PIGGYBACK ON THAT, I AGREE WITH EVERYTHING KRYSTAL SAID.

IN ADDITION TO THAT WHEN SOMEONE SAYS WHY DO YOU NEED EXTRA HOUSING, WE ALSO NEED TO HAVE A CONVERSATION ABOUT WHAT IS HOUSING IN NEW YORK CITY IN THE LAST 25 YEARS AND ACKNOWLEDGE THERE HAVE BEEN MANY COMMUNITIES THAT HAVE BEEN JUST BLED DRY.

THERE ARE EMPTY, VACANT BUILDINGS THROUGHOUT NEW YORK CITY THAT ARE JUST SITTING THERE EITHER FOR REAL ESTATE SPECULATORS TO COME AND GENTRY FIE A NEIGHBORHOOD OR JUST SITTING THERE.

I BELIEVE THAT THOSE HOUSES IN MY VERSION OF A SOLUTION, WHOEVER HOLDS THE KEYS TO THE GAY RIGHTS MOVEMENT IN NEW YORK CITY WILL AGGRESSIVELY MOVE FOR THESE EMPTY APARTMENTS AND PUT THESE HOMELESS QUEER KIDS IN IT.

WHAT MAKES THEM DIFFERENT FROM THE AVERAGE HOMELESS PERSON IS THEY'RE VERY YOUNG.

THESE ARE KIDS VERY OFTEN 14, 15, 16 TO LIKE 25 YEARS OLD.

EVERYBODY AT THAT AGE REQUIRES HELP TO THRIVE IN THIS COMMUNITY, IN THIS SOCIETY.

YOU CANNOT COME OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL ABLE TO BE LIVE ON YOUR OWN EFFECTIVELY.

NO ONE CAN.

IMAGINE HOW DIFFICULT THAT IS FOR PEOPLE LIKE KRYSTAL AND MYSELF WHO NOT ONLY IS IT DIFFICULT, BUT YOU DON'T EACH HAVE BIOLOGICAL FAMILY TO TURN TO THE THINGS GET TOUGH.

PUTTING YOUNG PEOPLE LIKE THAT INTO THE TRADITIONAL SHELTER SYSTEM NOW MAKES HOMELESSNESS AND FAMILY REJECTION INTO A PRISON PIPELINE.

IT'S ALMOST A GUARANTEE THAT PEOPLE HAVE LIMITED LIFE OUTCOMES BY NOT ACKNOWLEDGING THE ACTUAL TRUE FACTS THAT PUT THEM IN THAT POSITION.

THESE ARE YOUNG PEOPLE.

THESE ARE SOMEBODY'S CHILDREN.

WHEN I WAS 16 AND I WAS KICKED OUT, THE WEEK BEFORE I WAS SOMEONE'S KID.

I DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO HAVE A JOB, I DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO PAY RENT, I DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO GET A SECURITY DEPOSIT, ANY OF THOSE THINGS.

TO PUT ME WITH ADULTS COULD HAVE BEEN DEVASTATING.

UNFORTUNATELY AND SO UNFORTUNATELY WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO LEAVE IT THERE.

I WILL ENCOURAGE EVERYONE WATCHING TO PLEASE CATCH THE DOCUMENTARY 'PIER KIDS.'

ELEGANCE BRATTON, THE DIRECTOR.

KRYSTAL LABEIJA, ONE OF THE PRINCIPAL PARTICIPANTS WHOSE STORY YOU GET TO FOLLOW.

THANK YOU BOTH SO MUCH FOR YOUR TIME TO TALK ABOUT THIS INCREDIBLY MOVING FILM AND THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US ON 'METROFOCUS.'

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

THANK YOU.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANTZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONEL FOUNDATION, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C.

AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

THE JPB FOUNDATION.

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