JoJo lives in a tent homeless in Hollywood, California. She has been homeless for over five years. Like many LGBT homeless youth, JoJo’s family didn’t accept her as she was. JoJo left home at 17 and has been homeless ever since.
JoJo’s story is heartbreaking. She was abused by her father growing up. JoJo has been kidnapped, raped, gay bashed and abused while on the streets homeless. She also suffers from Lupus.
JoJo says she continues to try and get off the streets. When an employer finds out JoJo is trans or homeless, they let her go. JoJo says she has been in and out of the homeless programs in Los Angeles.
Homelessness is a critical issue for transgender people, with one in five having experienced homelessness at some time in their lives because of discrimination and family rejection. As a result, an estimated 20-40% of the more than 1.6 million homeless youth in the United States are LGBT. Unfortunately, transgender people facing homelessness also face discrimination from agencies that should be helping them, with nearly one in three (29%) reporting being turned away from a shelter due to their transgender status.
“I don’t care who you worship or what you believe. I don’t care who you sleep with. If you are helping hurting people, you’re my friend, and I will support you.” ~ Mark Horvath
A few years ago I was invited to visit San Francisco by Bevan Dufty, who at the time was in charge of homeless services for the City and the County of San Francisco. Bevan connected me with TRANS:THRIVE, an organization that helps LGBTQ trans homeless people.
Here is a link to my visit with TRANS:THRIVE
My visit with TRANS:THRIVE was not just educational, it changed me. Homelessness is horrible for everyone but often people who identify as LBGT are doubly persecuted. Transgender people have trouble finding and maintaining employment. Often the only choice becomes sex work. NO ONE should be forced into a life of prostitution simply to get some food, and NO ONE should be homeless!
Talking to JoJo, I could feel her pain. She’s a young homeless woman trying to survive in a crazy messed up world. It’s easy to judge people from a distance, but as humans, we need to allow people to be who they want to be. You don’t know what that person has lived through.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
JoJo’s GoFundMe page
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Since its launch in November 2008, Invisible People has leveraged the power of video and the massive reach of social media to share the compelling, gritty, and unfiltered stories of homeless people from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. The vlog (video blog) gets up close and personal with veterans, mothers, children, layoff victims and others who have been forced onto the streets by a variety of circumstances. Each week, they’re on InvisiblePeople.tv, and high traffic sites such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, proving to a global audience that while they may often be ignored, they are far from invisible.
Invisible People goes beyond the rhetoric, statistics, political debates, and limitations of social services to examine poverty in America via a medium that audiences of all ages can understand, and can’t ignore. The vlog puts into context one of our nation’s most troubling and prevalent issues through personal stories captured by the lens of Mark Horvath – its founder – and brings into focus the pain, hardship and hopelessness that millions face each day. One story at a time, videos posted on InvisiblePeople.tv shatter the stereotypes of America’s homeless, force shifts in perception and deliver a call to action that is being answered by national brands, nonprofit organizations and everyday citizens now committed to opening their eyes and their hearts to those too often forgotten.
Invisible People is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the way we think about people experiencing homelessness.