FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Chloe Michelle Noble
HOMELESS YOUTH PRIDE WALK 2009 AND OPERATION SHINE
IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE NATIONAL EQUALITY MARCH
Two activists, Chloe Michelle Noble and Jill Hardman are walking across the United States to raise national awareness for the LGTBQI homeless youth epidemic in America. Chloe, 27, is a radically outspoken campaigner for homeless youth rights and identifies as Bisexual Queer. Jill, 29, is a human rights activist and identifies as Queer.
The walk, which began in Seattle, will cover 6,000 miles, (3000 of it on foot). They will be living out of their backpacks for most of their journey, which will give them a unique opportunity to film homeless youth all over the United States. "We are living out of our backpacks," says Noble. "But we are not using any resources for homeless youth. We are choosing to live within homeless youth communities temporarily, so that we can document this epidemic and raise awareness within each state."
When walking, the two walkers will be on foot six to nine hours a day, or 10 to 15 miles completed with 35-pound backpacks. They estimate Homeless Youth Pride Walk 2009 to take almost nine months to complete.
Almost 40% of homeless youth in America identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Pansexual, Transgender, Queer, or Intersex. A reason why LGBTQI Civil Rights are inseparable from the epidemic of homeless youth in America, says Noble, is because Queer youth make up almost a third of their population. "This diverse group of Queer youth has a profound and powerful voice," says Noble. "We want to support them in their progress and give them a platform to stand on. Studies show that many LGBTQI homeless youth who receive appropriate guidance, support, and resources, eventually become successful members of the community. By raising awareness we hope to inspire others to make sure more resources are available to all homeless youth for this reason."
Operation Shine 2009 was created so that inspired citizens could participate in Homeless Youth Pride Walk, without having to leave their city. "Numerous people ask us if they can walk with us across the country." says Noble, "But we can not provide them with adequate resources or protection. So we are incorporating the passion of these activists with their local communities in creating city-wide "Shines", that empower the communities we walk through. Operation Shine is also an opportunity for the American community to stand with the homeless LGBTQI youth and all homeless youth, who are suffering a very intense and morally appalling form of nationwide discrimination."
Operation Shine will take place in some of the cities they walk through. Operation Shine Seattle was held on May 22, and was hosted by YouthCare. The LGBTQI youth in Portland were so moved by PrideWalk that they organized a "Shine" within 24 hours! Operation Shine Portland was held on June 6 at SMYRC, co-hosted by OutSideIn. The San Francisco Shine was held at the Harvey Milk Plaza in the Castro, on July 10, and was hosted by Larkin Street Youth Services. And the Salt Lake City Shine, which drew in a couple hundred participants, was held on July 25, hosted by the Utah Pride Center.
The message that these women want to present to Washington DC is one of hope and empowerment. "We are asking Washington DC to participate in Operation Shine, because it is a reflection of the love and passion that already exists in your communities. This is an opportunity to shine a light on youth homelessness. Homeless youth deserve to be seen and heard," says Hardman, "We are also shining a light on the hard working organizations that are doing whatever they can to make a positive impact in the lives of these youth." Operation Shine DC is hosted by Sasha Bruce Youthwork; other organizations participating include the Wanda Alston House, Justice for DC youth, SMYAL, the National Youth Advocacy Coalition, the National Alliance to End Homelessness, Covenant House Washington, and the National Network For Youth.
"This is an opportunity to experience the power that the American community has when we unify toward a common cause; and to say to our nation, no longer will we stand by and watch as our youth are driven into the streets to live in unbearable conditions, simply because they are unwanted or Queer," says Noble. "These youth have proven that when supported and loved, they rise from their adversity, overcoming seemingly impossible circumstances; and despite all that has happened to them, they often become the very leaders within the community that once told them they were of no worth."
When one of us is assaulted or dehumanized, all of us are assaulted or dehumanized, says Noble. When a portion of our society lacks the compassion and integrity to allow all citizens even their most basic human rights, the impact is intensely polarizing ad inhumane. This is why the battle is dividing our country in two. According to statistics, LGBTQI youth who are kicked out of their homes go on to be homeless where they are more at risk than their heterosexual peers for physical abuse, sexual exploitation, chemical or alcohol dependency, discrimination and death. "There is a movement happening in America, and we're calling it Operation Shine," says Noble. "Now is the time for us to stand with those who would bring families together, not tear them apart. Now is the time for us to feel the impact that senseless discrimination is having on children all over this country."
The two walkers will arrive in Washington DC around October 3rd. The Washington DC Shine is scheduled for October 9, where participants will meet at the Sasha Bruce House for a meet and greet luncheon from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm. Leaders of the DC community will then speak at the DC Shine at 1:00 pm. Participants will be given time and materials to make rally signs and banners, then everyone will march to the US Capitol at 2:00 pm.
People who support Homeless Youth Pride Walk 2009 can "virtually walk with them" by following their website. Supporters can get updates on this website, which includes includes interactive media tools, such as Google Maps, Twitter, YouTube, and Kyte TV. After Noble and Hardman return home from their walk, all of the footage from PrideWalk2009 and Operation Shine will be posted on the website; which will be loaded with videos, photos, and posts collected on their journey.
Here is our schedule in Washington Dc which will coincide with the National Equality March:
OCT. 9, 2009 - OPERATION SHINE WASHINGTON DC
OCT. 10, 2009 - IMPACT: Queer and Allied Youth Raise Their Voices! www.nemimpact.org
OCT. 10 - 11, 2009 - NATIONAL EQUALITY MARCH www.equalityacrossamerica.org
A LETTER FROM CHLOE NOBLE TO THE AMERICAN COMMUNITY
My name is Chloe Noble. I am proud to be a Human Rights activists and Bisexual Queer American. I am also a former homeless Queer youth. This is my story . . . . .
We are walking simply because we believe that our youth should not have to live on the streets, wondering how they are going to get their own needs met.
Many American citizens are not aware that there are sometimes as many as 1.6 million homeless youth in America. These youth often brave the elements huddling for safety under bridges, in abandoned buildings and make- shift camps, that are eventually raided by law enforcement without warning. Some states, such as Utah, don't even have a shelter for homeless youth. There are few safe places for homeless youth to develop roots of their own and receive the support they need to reach their full potential. The organizations and shelters that are able to support these youth are often in need of adequate resources, funding, and legislation.
It is a privilege to live in a safe and warm home surrounded by a family who loves and respects you - a privilege that is taken (sometimes with force) from the homeless youth that grace the streets of our nation. For almost 600,000 of these homeless youth, this privilege is stripped from them because they identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. The Social Justice Movement is inseparable from the epidemic of homeless youth in America, where LGBTQ homeless youth make up over a third of the homeless youth population.
These LGBTQ youth go on to be homeless, where they are more at risk than their heterosexual peers, for physical abuse, sexual exploitation, chemical or alcohol dependency, discrimination and death. Do you know *13 youth die each day from homelessness? (Statements Journal, 17 August 2008)*
There is a movement happening in America and although it is quiet . . . . . . it runs very deep. We have witnessed first hand the suffering of these children and we say - enough. Now is the time for us to stand with those who would bring families together, not tear them apart. Now is the time for us to feel the impact that senseless discrimination is having on children all over this country. Now is the time to understand that this impact directly affects all LGBTQ people. When one of us is assaulted or dehumanized, all of us are assaulted or dehumanized. When a portion of our society lacks the compassion and integrity to not allow all citizens even their most basic human rights - the impact is intensely polarizing and inhumane. This is why this battle is literally dividing our country in two and driving beautiful children into the streets to live as animals.
We have been sorely disappointed in some of those who dare to call themselves defenders of family values. What is the value of allowing children to live homeless on their own without any real means of growth or stability? What is the value in withholding freedom from others? There is no peaceful reason to invest in these harmful ideologies. There is no peaceful reason to abandon a child.
We have great faith in what we are doing, because we have been deeply moved by the courage and strength of homeless youth. We have seen them make the transition into adulthood under sometimes unbearable circumstances. With appropriate guidance and support we have also seen them become leaders in our community. Although very few in our hometown (Salt Lake City), because resources for homeless youth are scarce.
We have great faith in what we are doing. Because we have been deeply moved by the patience, tenacity, and creativity of those who serve homeless youth - even with inadequate resources.
I want the hardworking and heartfelt members of our national community and community organizations, to start getting the adequate resources, funding, legislation, and support they need to resolve these issues. Our society in general and our systems of care have a duty to serve these youth and to make sure they are protected inside and outside of the home.
The bottom line - these youth need assistance NOW and they need it without exception.
While we are enjoying our service work here and excited to band together in our passion to end homelessness, we understand the grave danger and profound suffering that these youth face everyday. We realize, this underground society of children are not often seen or understood by those outside of it.
Our joy comes in serving them and helping to aid them in their recovery. We are also preparing ourselves, and the readers who are following our website, for the hardship they will see once we begin to document the lives of these children.
What we have seen and experienced has appalled and astonished us. We have been moved to tears and sometimes even rolling with laughter. We have grown to love this unseen nation of youth and long to reach out to them in every way we can.
They are the children of the Urban Jungle. And we are ready to help them tell their stories of personal defeat and of triumph. Collectively, their story is one of great courage and surprising wisdom. They have much to teach us. We are ready now to hear them, to see them, and if they so choose......to help them any way we can.
There is a movement happening in our nation, a crying out for justice that will not relinquish its hold . . . . . . and we are calling it OPERATION SHINE AMERICA. PrideWalk 2009 and OPERATION SHINE were created to raise awareness of the Queer homeless youth epidemic in America.
"It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brushfires in people's minds." - Samuel Adams
"Burn Brightly without burning out." - Richard Biggs
"All you need is the thing you've forgotten, and that's to learn to live with what you are." Ben Folds
"Our youth are not failing the system; the system is failing our youth. Ironically, the very youth who are being treated the worst are the young people who are going to lead us out of this nightmare." - Rachel Jackson