I think about the misrepresentation of homeless youth and teenagers in the following realm. There are individuals who may have a home and a bed to sleep in but are not accepted by their families/caregivers because of their gender identity or sexuality. The very traumatic dilemma then becomes: Endure the emotional hardship of masking your identity or find somewhere else to sleep at night, even if it means the streets.
Homelessness is not some monolithic marker of identity. To become homeless is to endure specific subject experiences usually dealing with trauma, loss of ability or lack of assistance which result in a person not being to secure shelter. Oftentimes I feel peoples stigma about homelessness revolves around a discourse which describes those affected by homelessnesss as marked by qualities such as laziness, or mental instability. Marked as other this perpetuates them as outsiders who are “unable” to perform normatively within social structures. These discourses however are only valid when “homelessness” is viewed through the lens of the homeless subject being a cis male white middle aged man. When the subject of homelessness is reframed through this lens and revealed to be a teen we see clearly that this rhetoric of laziness falls flat, empty and meaningless. Systemic hegemonic issues are to blame not individuals ability or lack thereof.
After viewing this series of videos several times, I find myself coming back to the idea of not only “who, but “what” is missing from the conversation. Behaviors exhibiting empathy and understanding are often void from many members of the community I encounter who are not impacted by homelessness.
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