New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg this week became yet another elected official to submit an empowering, impassioned video to Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" project. In the video, the Mayor is his usual get-down-to-business self, with a simple message for LGBT youth: New York City wants you. “We need you. We need your enthusiasm, your ideas, your passion, and your talents.” As far as "It Gets Better" videos go, it was pretty good. Except for one little thing.
Six weeks ago, Mayor Bloomberg's office drastically slashed funding to help house homeless LGBT youth in New York City. The cuts pulled nearly $1 million from the Ali Forney Center, the nation's largest housing project for LGBT youth. And other centers and programs around the city found their funding cut in half, or simply disposed of all together.
So Bloomberg's video left many scratching their heads. At once the Mayor was inviting disowned, kicked-out, in-the-dumps LGBT youth to come to New York City, where they could be "who they are supposed to be" and flourish, while systematically crushing a large part of their support system once they arrived. It seemed, well, totally hypocritical and immensely illogical.
Carl Siciliano, director of the Ali Forney Center, blasted the Mayor this week for his seeming lip service to the gay community. And that criticism, along with weeks of pressure from activists, homeless LGBT youth and a massive campaign by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to reinstate the funding, did the trick.
This morning the City Council announced that it would restore full funding to LGBT homeless programs, including street outreach and drop-in centers. It's an amazing victory for LGBT youth in New York City. And a real testament to the power of focused activism.