I don’t need to mention that Truth is elusive and takes on different hues depending who is looking for it. Nevertheless, many of us attempt to write the truth as we see it, sometimes to relieve ourselves of some burden that won’t let go and sometimes to alert the world to an issue that it seems to be ignoring.
Ryan Berg, author of No House to Call My Home tries to alert the world to an issue that seems to be ignored by all but a few. Even with the knowledge that approximately 40% of homeless youth living on the streets of New York City identify themselves as LGBTQ *, there isn’t much general interest in helping them. They are on their own to survive against odds that they are ill-equipped to face. And those odds are great.
After giving readers the needed statistics of how extensive the problem is, Berg wisely presents anecdotes and stories of the youth living in one of the few group homes available specifically for LGBTQ teens. It is from these anecdotes that we begin to get a glimpse of the truth of their lives.
Some of these boys and girls are still in touch with their families, but the drug use of parents and other adults in the home, and the abuse that is heaped upon children who show any signs at all of being gay make these environments dangerous and toxic, so the children run away to the streets. Other teens have been completely abandoned by their families, and often have no idea where their parents are staying. There is nothing to go home to even if they could. These become the throw-away children that nobody wants.
As author Ryan Berg describes his experiences working as a caseworker, we learn that these are teens from homes so dysfunctional that, as children, they did not have the opportunity to go through the ages and stages of development that lead to maturity, and so their judgement is impaired and the choices that they make are often self-destructive. All of them are looking for someone to love them, to take care of them, and to provide stability, so they are out on the streets of New York, victim to any manipulative person who leads them to believe that “this” is the person who can give them the love that they so desperately seek.
This is not a pretty story. Who will read it? Will it sell? The prestigious Nation Books of the Perseus Books Group is taking a chance in publishing No House to Call My Home, because Ryan Berg writes truth in a way that it can be heard and understood. These are our nation’s children and need to be rescued before it is too late for them. Also, the babies that are born into extreme poverty and into abusive and/or drug infested homes must be given the services needed so that they can have at least a fighting chance of growing up whole.
Berg doesn’t leave it there. He, together with Garrard Conely, have compiled a Resource Guide included with the book for the forty states that seem to care. Those states not listed are: Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming. If you live in one of the states that may not have resources for LGTBQ youth in trouble, perhaps you might care enough to help begin the assistance that is needed.
Writing Truth is risky, but as writers, that should not stop us. Who else will tell the story if not you and me.
*LGBTQ: L=Lesbian, G=Gay, B=Bisexual, T=Transgender, Q=Questioning.