N.Y. Today: Jobs for L.G.B.T.Q. Youth

What you need to know for Thursday.

Jobs for Homeless L.G.B.T.Q. Youth

By Amanda Rosa

Fellow, Metro

It's Thursday.

Weather: Expect a mostly sunny, but chilly, day with highs reaching only into the mid-40s. Tonight will be partly cloudy with a low around 40 degrees.

Alternate-side parking: In effect until April 29 (Holy Thursday, Orthodox).

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Elianel Clinton for The New York Times

New York City, home to one of the largest L.G.B.T.Q. populations in the country, is a safe haven. Yet many of the city's L.G.B.T.Q. youth experience homelessness and struggle to find jobs.

Starting July 1, the city intends to focus on aiding homeless L.G.B.T.Q. youth by beginning a new program that offers job opportunities, mental health support and education.

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"This is the city where everybody sees themselves making it," Mario Smith, 20, who is nonbinary and transgender, told my colleague Michael Gold.

I asked Mr. Gold about the program, Unity Works, and what it means for the city's youth. Our conversation has been edited for brevity:

Q: What is Unity Works, and how does it work?

A: Unity Works is a job readiness and development program for homeless L.G.B.T.Q. youth. In this program, you've got access to mental health services, educational training to help people get their high school equivalencies or move toward higher education and job placement at inclusive workplaces.

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The idea behind it is that we know that L.G.B.T.Q. homeless youth are a particularly vulnerable population, and their needs sit at the intersection of several things. This population is not getting served by what exists now.

Why is a program specifically for L.G.B.T.Q. homeless youth necessary?

Forty percent of the homeless youth in New York City are L.G.B.T.Q. This is a really big population. Experts say that the reason they're homeless is fundamentally because of family rejection. All these things intersect with each other and make it difficult to find not just work but good-paying work.

On top of that, you deal with the problem of needing workplaces that are inclusive and affirming. We know that for L.G.B.T.Q. youth, discrimination in the workplace is associated with a higher likelihood of suicide attempts, according to the Trevor Project. The job readiness programs that exist aren't made for L.G.B.T.Q. people or with L.G.B.T.Q. people's input.

How has the pandemic affected L.G.B.T.Q. youth's access to jobs?

The pandemic has hit people disproportionately, and the people who are already the most vulnerable tended to suffer a lot. In general, L.G.B.T.Q. people are more likely to be paid less than straight and cisgender people.

The Ali Forney Center, which is a nonprofit that provides housing and other services to help homeless L.G.B.T.Q. youth, has said that 90 percent of the people they work with have lost their jobs.

From The Times

The Mini Crossword: Here is today's puzzle.

What we're reading

Hundreds of Asian-American activists signed a letter opposing Andrew Yang's bid for mayor. [City and State]

Prospect Park in Brooklyn saw a surge in litter and vandalism Tuesday evening. [New York Post]

The Police Department's Transit Bureau chief accused the Metropolitan Transportation Authority leaders of stoking fear that transit crime was out of control. [New York Daily News]

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And finally: An artist who is always heading for home

In January 2020, an M.T.A. bus driver named Tyrone Hampton found a nonverbal child still sitting onboard at the end of a run in Upper Manhattan. He called for help and watched over the boy until he knew he'd get safely home.

It was a small news story, with a happy ending. But it was the kind of incident that touches Azikiwe Mohammed, 37, an artist who, through different media — painting, textiles, performative installations — is interested in constructing spaces of safety and welcome for people of color and for immigrants whose space is often threatened.

"I have a bunch of alerts set for when people don't make it home," Mr. Mohammed said in an interview at the Yeh Art Gallery at St. John's University in Jamaica, Queens, where the first exhibition devoted to his textile-based art is concluding soon. One of the 40 pieces in the show is a tribute to Mr. Hampton, whose portrait he has stitched onto a vintage denim jacket.

Several works made for the Yeh show contain Queens references like the Unisphere monument in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, or obscure entries in the oral-history Queens Memory Project. Mr. Mohammed is not from the borough — his mother, a New York City public school educator, is from Harlem; his father, a photographer and substance-abuse counselor, was from Brooklyn; and he lives in the apartment complex in TriBeCa where he grew up — but Queens, a magnet for migrants, is also his kind of place.

"Azikiwe is the perfect artist to work in Queens," said Owen Duffy, the Yeh Art Gallery's director, who curated the show. "He has the gift of enfolding the stories of people from many different backgrounds into his work."

It's Thursday — listen to someone's story.

Metropolitan Diary: At Main Street

Dear Diary:

In fall 1969, I was a college freshman commuting from Bayside into Manhattan via bus and subway.

On one particular September morning, as I took my usual seat on the Q13, I noticed an attractive yet unfamiliar man sitting at the back of the bus and wrestling with an armload of textbooks.

The bus filled up quickly, and by the time we reached Main Street, I had lost sight of him — until he ended up sitting directly across from me on the No. 7.

We exchanged a bit of awkward eye contact, then made an obvious attempt to avoid it, as if to dispel any glimmer of a mutual attraction.

Later that afternoon, as I was heading home from class, a bit of fate intervened and he and I wound up on the same subway car again.

When he emerged from the station and walked toward the back of the line for the bus, I leaned in and tapped his arm as he passed by me.

"Are you following me?" I asked.

He shook his head, smiled and laughed. By the time we got off the bus together, that attractive yet unfamiliar man was unfamiliar to me no more.

— Cheryl Hurr Gordon

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