Kim Hunt – Pride Action Tank

Kim Hunt – Pride Action Tank

In conversation with…

We are so very excited to share this episode with everybody. Today we welcome Kim Hunt who currently serves as the Executive Director of Pride Action Tank, part of AIDS Foundation of Chicago. Pride Action Tank is a think tank that initiates change on many levels through inquiry, advocacy, and action. Pride Action Tank focuses on the improvement & development of opportunities for LGBTQ+ communities in the Chicago Region. 

On this episode we discuss the many issues around homelessness, the particular challenges of LGBT Youth Homelessness, issues of race & policy, and even a little Star Trek. 

We hope you enjoy this episode but more importantly & hope you take this as an opportunity to learn, grow, and hopefully get involved in working towards a better future for those who are in desperate need. Resources and information linked below.

More About Kim

In addition to what is listed above, Kim has had a decorated and busy career spanning urban planning, transportation, and social work/justice. Kim currently holds too many positions to count. DJ tried to list everything at the beginning of the show and ran out of room on his note card! That is to say, Kim is exceedingly committed to the projects that she is involved in and always seems to have a little bit more to offer when needed.

Kim started her career in the Urban planning working with the Chicago Transit Authority eventually leading her to pursue a second Master’s degree. This moved led her to start a management consulting firm called Affinity. This organization sought to bring visibility to LGBTQ+ people of color in the South Side of Chicago. You can read more on their website about the numerous accomplishments and progress that this organization has made in for this cause. 

Kim was inducted into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame in 2016 for her work and still maintains her spot as the Executive Director of Pride Action Tank, leads the Outspoken Storytelling series, and serves on countless committees and boards both locally and nationwide. Kim’s efforts largely focus around  and advocates for the development of LGBT youth Homelessness programs and services. 

Show Transcription

Hello there.


Hey, how are you?


I’m good. How are you?


Well, I’m, I’m so excited to talk to you. During this show. There’s so much I want to ask. I don’t even know if we’ll have enough time to cover everything.


Okay, I’m down for that.


But first of all, I have to say and I want to tell everyone that’s listening that Kim has a pedigree as it would take a whole other show to list everything that she’s done is doing is involved in this matter of fact, I stopped printing after seven pages. No, but it seemed like that. I was reading it. I was like, You even sleep at all?


I do. I’ve gotten better. My body makes me go to sleep.


Well, listen. Kim is the executive director of price action tank and she’s the Senior Director of policy and advocacy operation for the age foundation of Chicago. She’s been inducted into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame. She could co host and I guess outspoken which is an LGBTQ storytelling right here in Lakeview, where I live. I live in Lakeview east, okay, and, and then it just goes on and on and on and on. I mean, I literally can. It’s a full page of everything that you’ve done. First of all, thank you for being on the show. I am, in essence, a sponge. I want to learn about all of this. Now, I don’t know how much you know about me. But to give you a little bit of background, I’m a publisher, I published several publications, LGBT publications, I was the president of the National equality media Association. I’m currently the CEO of a quality media, which is one of the largest LGBT media placement agencies in the country. And I’m the executive director of the equality advisory board, which is a list of 12 National LGBT luminaries in business and media, sort of like a think tank to try and help us coalesce our message to brands and agencies and so forth. And when Nick was telling me about you, and I thought, you know, I really want to learn about this, this is something that I can share on such a broad platform with other publishers. And I wonder how many of them are really aware of this and some of the things that I’ve read. I know I have not been aware of. So tell me a little bit about yourself. Tell me a little bit about what you’re doing and what the focus is. Let’s start with that.


That sounds good. And first of all, let me say, I don’t know when you sleep. That’s a long podcast.


Yes, and and thank you, and thank you, Nick, for coordinating and thank you for both for having me on the show. I really appreciate it. So I will say that I’ve I have a career that spans probably 30 or so years, which is hard to even wrap my head around. The first part of my life was actually As an urban planner, and I did that work primarily at the Chicago Transit Authority, where one of the things that I gained some experience in that has carried me throughout life is really talking to community and trying to find a way to help community connect to resources, but also help those institutions that have the resources, connect to community sometimes those two big groups are speaking different languages, but trying to communicate with each other. So along the way, there’s a whole coming out story that your listeners will have to come to outspoken to, to hear more about.


me hanging, I was dying.


We’ll come back to that maybe later. But But yeah, so first half of my career transportation Planning. I decided at some point not at some point probably in my early 40s or so to go back to school to get a second master’s degree. So moving from urban planning to Public Policy Studies. I do not recommend that people get two master’s degrees, totally unnecessary. But that’s what I did. And gained a lot of different experiences from consulting work in that space, and also came upon a time where I realized that I was overqualified to be hired right off the street, but I had 12 years of work experience and two master’s degrees and so I needed to do something and I created or co created a consulting firm that focused on Community and Economic Development. And while I was doing that work, I was asked to join the Boyd board. of affinity Community Services, which is a organization on the south side of Chicago, focused primarily on the black LGBTQ community, and more specifically with female identified folks. And through my tenure on the board, affinity was fortunate to have some pretty good fundraising opportunities that led to some multi year grants, and they were able to hire an executive director during this time. And it just happened to be at a time when I was burned out from consulting work. You can, yeah, it was great running my own shop. But it’s also non stop working, you know, you’re doing business development. And then you’re also having to do the client work and even though we had a small and amazing staff, we hadn’t reached the level where the The two founders could Carter kind of step away from the client work. So I applied for the stepped off the board applied for the affinity job. And, and they hired me. I was at affinity for about seven years. And in that time, I in conjunction with an amazing board, we were able to move the it was a 15 year old organization. When I first came in, I was the first executive director. And so we were able to secure enough funding to move from an all volunteer organization that had done just groundbreaking work to an organization that had a small staff. And I when you’re running a small business, when you’re running a small organization, you do everything, right. So yeah, from the QuickBooks data entry to you know, cleaning up after the events that we had all the things but


believe me, you’re preaching to the choir and it’s not a packed Nick producer Nick, I try and mentor him about what it’s like to to run a small business. It’s not all you know, glory and Jax, is it? No,


no, it is not. It is not. But it was a great opportunity at the same time because I got to work very deeply with folks who are really committed to I will say LGBTQ liberation, but also looking at the intersections of black identities and female identities as well as queer. And so that were looked like anything from having regular peer led groups where we had bonded tears were sort of leading programs for their affinity groups, so to speak. So dependent on age dependent on identity within our rainbow, to working on policy issues like marriage, to essentially being a representative to talk about blackness in LGBTQ spaces, in queerness in black spaces, so was a range of speaking opportunities and just awareness building in that in my tenure there.


And let me ask you can one of the things that I seen throughout the the material that I’ve been reading about you was homelessness, the problem of youth homelessness, right? Yeah. So I spoken about this. I’ve given speeches about this. That and this is why you’re coming out story was so intriguing to me. Mine was very difference as well, I didn’t come out until I was in my 40s, early 40s I was a pilot in the US Air Force I couldn’t come out your career would have been over. But one thing that I, I didn’t understand, I still don’t understand is how do parents who love their kids, putting them on the street at a, at a very vulnerable stage, to be vulnerable to predators to criminals to society in general, you know, a 16 year old is not equipped emotionally, intellectually, financially or in any other way to deal with the rigors of life, let alone without a roof over your head or, or some sort of stabilized food or you know what I mean, I, I just don’t get that. How do you. I don’t care what your faith is or what your belief is. How do parents and in your experience, why do parents think that any one of those things takes precedence over their responsibility as a parent


Yeah, yeah, that’s a great question. And like you, I did didn’t come out until I was grown and I had been married and with kids. And while at affinity, you know, we did some work with youth who were experiencing homelessness or who were having tension in their families around their identity. And it was towards the end of my tenure that Tracy Boehm of Windy City times. Yeah, we, through Tracy’s leadership created the summit on LGBTQ youth homelessness, and I had two and a half days of really being steeped in, in this issue from the perspective of young people who were experiencing it. And in my work over the years, I’ve talked with both parents and with young people, with young people what I have found a couple of things Well, let me go back to parents because you asked a very important question, How can parents do this? And I agree, I just, it’s unfathomable to me that you would turn your kid out and put up on the street.


I have spoken to parents and


their family are many stories, right. Some of the things that have come out, I in the conversations I’ve had is that one, many of them don’t really know what they’re putting their kids out to. They don’t have an experience in


order to know what’s out on the stage. Yeah,


but they don’t think that’s happening to their children. And I, you know, people disconnect on on things that they know that they need to deal with, and they just don’t think it’s gonna happen. And I and I think in many cases, parents think it’s got to be a temporary thing, not just the queerness or transmitted Being a phase but that the, the young person will come back around and get their act together and just not display that in front of their parents until they can move out. And oftentimes, parents do not leave the door open even for that. So young people don’t know that that is an option. And it’s not a healthy one. Honestly, no parents also are. It’s amazing how some parents feel like faith is part of it, but also it’s letting go or the potential of letting go of whatever social circles they have, and their own sense of identity and sense of who their kid is. And I think with some intervention, there are parents who will find a way to make it Through until their kid moves out, and and not have a hostile environment, but that requires an openness. And it also requires knowing that there are resources available, and for the young people, and what I hear over and over again, and what are some of my colleagues have told me who work more directly with young people is that they really want to go home. They want to be with their family, even if it’s a messed up situation, they want to go home. But they don’t know that they can. And they don’t know that they’ll be safe when they get there. But it is amazing how many parents don’t know what their kids are going to have to endure when they put them out on the street.


Well, I can tell you that as an adult man, who was very successful in my career, a decorated war veteran, who was at a at the pinnacle of of my power, if you will, in my in my flying career, when I went to talk to my mother about Being gay. I literally was petrified. Yeah. And and my father had passed and he never I never had a chance to chat with him before. My mother was very loving and supportive. But I was petrified Kim and I, I’ll never forget the moment and I get goosebumps even just recalling it. She’s passed now but I never forget the moment I stood at her door, and I was like, This is the house. This is where I grew up. This is everything that is familiar with me everything that is positive and great. And I’m standing here like a complete stranger, petrified to even touch the door handle. First of all, I sat in the driveway for a good 1015 minutes in my car. And then I stood at the door and I walked in everything was the same My mother was in the kitchen. She was Sicilian. So she was always cooking. And I walked in and the first thing is she was very little to four foot 11 and three quarters. And she’s to say I’m five foot if she did her hair, right. She didn’t want to be below five feet. But she had a little stool in front of the stove and that’s how she would cook her sauce and, or gravy as she called it, right? That’s what Italians call and I walk in and she turns to me the minute she looked at me, can I start crying? It was, I was like, and the first thing is, you know, she’s like, are you okay? Are you sick? Are you in trouble? Do you need money? Do you need food? Wow, you know, all the gamut? And I said, No, no, no, no, no, all of that. And I couldn’t even say that I was gay. I had to say, I think I’m gay. Right? Even though I knew I was gay from like, 10 so she’s, she, we sit down at the kitchen table because everything happens in the kitchen. That’s what we grew up in the kitchen. Now the kitchen table and I’m I told her that she goes, Oh, that we’ve known that for years. We were just waiting for you to figure it out.


And then she started crying and and then, you know, it’s sort of like we talked a little bit but I want to tell you something Kim, and I feel free to Share this and I said this, a this in many speeches that I give across the country is my mother was not literate in, in, in all the sophistications of coming out or any of that. But she did give me some good advice which saved my life. I believe it saved my life. She said, I don’t understand this. But I will tell you that if you focus on being a good human being, if you focus on that, then everything You are everything that’s filtered through that will be good. And and you don’t you don’t have to worry about being a good gay person or good this person or a good bit focused on being a good human being first and then everything you are, everything you’re involved in will be filtered through that. And when I was trying to merge my two lives, which I had managed, was quite, and I’m sure you you can understand this as well. It was so stressful to manage two separate lives when they started to merge together. I just kept saying I don’t have to be perfect this time. To that I’m just have to be a good human. And that’s what I held on to. And then I was able to transition and now, you know, I may not have all the answers and, and Kim I don’t have the history probably like you I don’t have like a history of advocacy or or being part of any sort of uprisings or, or gay bashing or any of that. I didn’t have any of that. Yeah, right. I don’t have any of that history. So a lot of times I have to overcome that. Now, Marin Jonze, who is the editor in chief of curve magazine, was on my show the other day, she’s a lovely human. I love her to death. And we are, we’re both publishers, and we were talking about, you know, about about that, like, how did how did she come to grips with it and how did she How does she survive and she’s lesbian and a, and a woman and a female having to overcome both those barriers and, and often times she goes, it was very difficult, but without a good support mechanism, good support, network around her She told me it’d be very difficult would have been much more difficult for her. Mm hmm. So my, the point that I’m I’m getting to is even as adults as secure and who we are financially secure and everything, it was still super traumatic Hmm. To cross that bridge, I can’t even Kim, imagine what it’s like to be 1617 years old and saying to your parents, I’m gay or lesbian or what have you, and then then say get out. Now, I don’t want you in my house, you can’t have supper at our table. You know, you’re not part of the family because God said so. And by the way, I’m a Christian too. And so it was very difficult for me to reconcile all of those, my faith, my family, my everything, and then you just can keep layering it, layering it on top of that, you know, I’m one of my first interns at the show was transgender and I had very little experience with transition. Gender people, and she was wonderful. And I said, Listen, I don’t understand everything. But I know you’re a good person. You’re a good person. That’s what I’m, that’s what I’m starting with. Mm hmm. And we built on that. And by the way, I’m non binary, African American, lesbian, gay, bi, and everything else in between. Whenever I don’t understand something, the first thing that I hone in on is, how are they as a human being?


Yes. Your mom taught you well.


Well, that is the same and I think he can agree, can’t you that that ever, no matter what our differences are, no matter what anything is, the first thing you should be looking at is are you a good human? Yeah. Or are you a good human being? Because everything else is? is subjective. Really? Hmm.


Yeah, that’s definitely been my approach in life. And I, too, was fortunate to not have the experiences that you named. And when I talk about coming out I mentioned that I was good and groan when I came out. But I did to also have that experience of feeling petrified about having to have the conversation. And the response for me was well, very well to from my mom and dad who were divorced since I was three, but I’m just remain supportive and loving and said the right things, even though I am assuming that they did have some sort of inner turmoil going on.


Yeah, and I think that’s normal. No, I’m sure my mother had some inner turmoil. She said was, Are you safe? Be careful, you know, and, and all of that, you know, age was still a big a big thing. And she was worried about my career in the Air Force because I hadn’t yet retired, and would that affect my retirement and she goes, don’t say anything. And, you know, so the last three years I was out to my family, but I couldn’t be out publicly because all someone had to Do will say, Oh, I saw a captain door and at a gay bar and the military use conduct on becoming an officer as the catch all. Mm hmm. And that was in no justification required. So I had to be really careful. And, and I think that I think that as an adult, if you think about this, and this is what’s frightening to me, and I was looking at some of the statistics for LGBT homelessness, black LGBT homelessness, and, and I was thinking, My God, that is, those numbers are astounding. They are and and depressing. Mm hmm.


Yeah. And it’s, it’s it’s not talked about nearly enough. A few years ago, I was at a conference. I think it was the Congressional Black Caucus conference. And I was in the audience for one of the women’s breakout sessions and there, I will wasn’t on the panel or anything we were having the the, I guess the person from the who was moderating the program actually sort of opened things up for the audience. And I pointed out that, you know, while folks were talking about, you know, healthy families, healthy kids and whatever other other things were being discussed, that said, one thing that folks need to understand is that you have got to stop kicking your gay kids out of the house, and the room. What’s like, first silent, but then a tremendous amount of support. And people started coming up to me talking about their trans child, or the gay child or lesbian, all the letters and we wound up having a really robust discussion and I shared some of the statistics with people. And folks were horrified because it’s not a topic of discussion. And even within I will say policy spaces around homelessness. It isn’t talked about enough that people who are doing the work in direct services, they see it every day. But folks outside of that circle, don’t see it. And don’t talk about it nearly enough. And one of the things that we’ve done as pride action tank, which is the job that I do now and what I did, right, move to right after affinity is we bring awareness to the issue and I in our first year, we had this huge sleepout and in preparation for it. We worked with an agency that interviewed young people and this was after our youth homelessness summit as well and and created graphics around the issue about how a lot times youth experiencing homelessness are just invisible to us. They don’t look homeless. They don’t you know, they’re trying to go about their days like another young person going to school going to work, whatever it may be and and doing that against tremendous odds in because, you know, part of their survival is blending in, people don’t see them and we got to talk about that


more right missing going to school and going to work that’s one thing but to me the real safety, the real, the real thing is at the end the evening where do you sleep? Yeah, where do you wake up?


You know, I mean, part I just unfathomable. I mean, it really is to me, and and how do you address that? So I’m assuming that production network has the pre production tank has the has resources from the State of Illinois and maybe from the city of Chicago to help address that. Do you guys help guide them? Or is it just education? We don’t have resources. So pride action tank is not direct service. We’re a project incubator and think tank that’s focused on LGBTQ issues. And what we do is through collaboration with many organizations, as well as people with lived experience, address issues like homelessness, and aging in the LGBTQ community,


right. That’s gonna be that’s something we’re going to segue. Okay. part because that is something I’m, I’m experiencing now I’m gonna be saying. And I’m like, wow, I should be more concerned about


that. Exactly. I’m, I turned 58 this year. I’m like these people right here.


But yeah, so what we do is we try to create a big table for people who touch the issues that we work on. And some of whom live them some of whom do this as their, as we say w two, passion work.




yes, a lot of us have some of that Mm hmm.


In and we are very solutions driven. So we worked, worked from the ground up to say, hey, what, what are you experiencing now? If the world were were there a better place? What would that feel like? And then how do we get there? So, we do things like we are working on a project with lacasa forte, which is a youth housing organization in Chicago, and we’re trying to create a tiny homes community for youth who are experiencing homelessness. That’s something that came out of our youth summit. We worked on the Chicago youth storage initiative, which is something that came out of the sun. And became this big program to provide the simple thing like storage in 30 days. Exactly. And that’s one of the things that came out in our summit. And this is why it’s important to work with people with lived experience, because one of our young people towards the end of the summit, shared the spoken word piece with us where they talked about the stigma related to carrying everything they own on their back. And the anxiety they had when they had to go to school or work and had to stash that backpack somewhere around and not knowing if it was going to be there when they got back. And because we created a space that also had funders in the room, funders heard the storage thing, something tangible, but also that has impact and they wound up funding first, a research study that young people led Then it grew into a city wide project in partnership with Google to have secure High Definition scanned storage for ID and all the things that can easily be lost and has to be replaced over and over again. But that people need and or want because some of the things are like family photos. Right, right. You know, those kinds of things?


Well, who did? I mean, really? Who thinks about that as part of the homeless problem? Is this storage of, of your personal, your personal things, your toiletries?


Yes, your medication,


your medication, you know, clean clothes, clean clothes? Yeah, no. And, and that’s the other thing, where do they shower? Where do they, you know, I mean, the things that I take for granted and many people take for granted. So the question I have is, is there progress being made? Or is this one of those issues There is just this deep dark hole that is that is, is there is no light at the end of it.


So this is completely solvable. This is completely solvable. And I think, I hope, one of the things that comes out of this pandemic, and the rush to house people because of the understanding of, you know, needing to contain a virus but also knowing that people can’t stay healthy if they have no place to live. My hope is that on the other side of this, housing, really, housing first really will be seen as an absolute necessity and the political will will be behind it to make it happen. There are organizations that are working diligently every day to house young people. And older people experience experiencing homelessness. But there hasn’t been the political will to say, you know what, no young people person should be without a safe place safe and affirming place to lay their head at night. So that’s one piece of it. And then it’s also about moving upstream to prevent homelessness in the first place. And so young people are homeless for many reasons. Some of it has to do with poverty. Some of it is young people decide themselves, that they don’t want to be a burden to their family, a family that may be struggling and they may decide to leave. So we need to make sure that individuals in this country have safe housing period and if that becomes the political will, this is not a hard thing to do.


No, and I’ll tell you truthfully camera I mean, I don’t want to sound trite on this, but all you have to do is look at the military budget and I’m a military guy or look at all the ads, but we are wasting millions and billions. Yeah, you know what I’m saying? And just a little fraction of that budget Exactly. could solve this issue but the that’s a broader conversation about politics, which is, which really is crazy right now. I just I wish it was December and Christmas. Now. All of that


is even hard to remember that there’s a presidential election coming up.


You know what’s gonna happen? It’s gonna be November I’m like, What? Yeah, but you know, and truthfully, there’s no no campaigning or anything. And I truly I’m not looking forward to it because all it is is going to be street fighting and name calling and, and everything for months on end. And, and I think that the era of, of civil political discourse an intellectual debate towards wisdom and understanding is, unfortunately, a thing of the past. And I don’t know if that can be recovered. But be that as it may, this is the thing that I I’m taking away from this is that these these, these line item costs in a budget of multiple personnel, I don’t know where we got $3 trillion, but that’s a whole other separate. But even if we took a sliver of that $3 trillion, and said, Hey, we’re going to go to these major urban areas and we’re going to solve the youth homeless issue first. We they wouldn’t even miss it. That’s even miss it. So So when someone says when you say something like takes political will, what that tells me is that people people have they’re the ones that make the decision, the money doesn’t just go on its own, you know, that they Hey, I’m gonna go here there. Somebody has to decide where it goes. So the the the point of Change has to be with those people, either through the elected officials or through pressure on on government agencies so that they reap or tries reprioritize what their budget focuses are. I, I personally think that youth homelessness is an abomination to our civilized society. And the second part of that is elder homelessness. Nobody in their life Kim in my mind and correct me if I’m wrong, nobody in their life says I’m going to work all my whole life and at 70 years old. I’m gonna stand out on the street corner in Chicago in the winter and beg for pennies.




drug problems. family problems aside mental health issues especially you know, seem to be the thing. I’m sorry that is not you know, in my old age, you know, when I picture I picked your nice comfy overstuffed chair, my feet up there, you know, relaxing and well that’s what my retirement is relaxing, not being on the street corner. How does one end up there? And how do you? How do you pull back from that, especially if it’s a mental health issue where they don’t want to seek, you know, they don’t want to go to a shelter. They don’t want to take advantage of services.


Yeah, that’s that’s very, very challenging that aspect of it, and that’s, you know, that’s part of the population. There are a lot of people who are working and homeless to work every day and are homeless, so that it’s a multi requires a multi prong response. And one thing that we don’t talk about enough in LGBTQ communities is just what older adults have had to deal with, especially when you get to folks who are in this 7080 year old group, who have experienced this lifetime of stigma and disgust because people viewed them as an abomination as having mental health issues. When I was at affinity, one of the older adults, I was having a conversation with talk to me about having electroshock therapy that her parents requested for her out of love. It’s always exactly they didn’t even mention Jesus they just mentioned and, and, and, you know, they wanted to cure her from from the gay and so that if only


I don’t want to be cured. But


after one second, then the great thing to say because, you know, there was a period when I didn’t want to be gay at all, because I was like, I don’t want to I want to be married. I want to have kids. I want to I don’t want to be part of that because In my own household, there was a stigma against gay people, you know, not a positive one either. No, I have four brothers and one sister and it was not positive. And I didn’t want to be part of that. And that’s why when someone says, Oh, you know, I love you, it’s I don’t I hate the sin and no, or I don’t love your


Hate the sin.


Yeah, whatever they say, I’m like, I just, I literally want to just grab them by the throat and say, Listen, this is not a choice, because if it was, I’m a very strong individual. I would not have chosen this took me years to finally come to terms with this is who I am. I accept who I am. And I like who I am. But it did not come easy, Kim and I can’t imagine what that’s like for you know, for for anyone you know, it’s it’s just very, very difficult and old, elderly people especially. Yeah, you know, they work. They go through their whole lives and at the end of their life, they are discarded many of them don’t have families I read I was reading a whole bunch of things. They don’t fail me. They don’t partners. No, I’m lucky I have a house together. 18 years. We have a daughter. We have two grandchildren, mixed race grandchildren. And, you know, we were one of the lucky ones. Mm hmm. But one of the very fortunate, each one of us, but there are many that I read some of the links that that I was sent are these elderly, LGBTQ plus people have no family, no support system, no anything. And, and I read something that I thought was so fascinating. He said when I get older, because he had no family. He just wants to go to Mexico or Canada and die.


Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So you know, I mentioned the youth homeless summit. We’ve also had a summit on the issues that LGBTQ older adults face. And so part of what we know is that when LGBTQ folks are going into senior care facilities, long term care facilities, nursing homes, that sort of thing. They don’t feel safe being out. 70% of them feel like they have to go back into the closet, after some of whom, after being like living our lives, despite the odds for emotion, most of their lives. And these are not just the long term care facilities that we hear the horror stories about. These are also the swankier, very expensive ones that don’t even want to take same sex couples who have the money to to pay for. For all of this. There are a couple of lawsuits now against independent living facilities that have turned down same sex couples. And these are folks who, like I said, have the resources. Imagine what’s happening in those facilities that are not well resourced where Employees aren’t paid well, and where there’s been no training on LGBT cultural competency. There is a denial that there LGBTQ people living in the facilities and the peers of our older siblings, if you will, also grew up in a time where being LGBTQ was. You could be beat up, thrown in jail, all the things. These folks are also turning on LGBTQ older adults in facilities, and no one is doing anything in many other facilities. So that’s another big piece of work that has to be done. Last year, we worked with a quality Illinois, one of the statewide organizations across the country that focuses on Legislation related to making things better for LGBTQ people. We partnered with them on a piece of legislation to add LGBT and HIV status to the aging act in Illinois to further protect and recognize that group of folks as folks who could experience hardship and should be protected. And the hope is, our follow up work will be to really encourage those facilities to start doing some cultural competency training, because it would be great if we could build a bunch of LGBTQ affirming housing facilities for older adults, and I’m actually involved in a project to do that. But we cannot build our way out of this situation. We have to make sure that mainstream facilities are ready For our people, and they are not right now.


So that brings up a really interesting question and that is in my own life, I am not preparing to be dependent on government agencies to look after my well being and so I am even now financially planning to make sure that I do not ever have to be at the at the Beck and what’s the word, not beck and call, what’s the word I’m thinking of, at the mercy of someone that doesn’t have or any institution, if you will, that doesn’t have my best interests at heart, either it either social, mental, or physical or any of that. Because Because of this, that’s my biggest fear. See, right now I’m 60. But I feel like I’m 20 and I’m built pretty good. And I’m an excellent health and whatever. So I don’t, I don’t have a lot of fear. But you know what happened to me in New York years ago. It was it was very weird, and I’ve never done anything like this before or after. I was walking. I don’t ask me why, but I was crazy, you know? But back then when you’re young and stupid, younger and stupider is that a word? I don’t know. But I was walking, walking back to from the village, to the upper west side where I lived, right? I’m walking along, I’m minding my own business, and I’m with a couple of friends. And we’re, we were just talking and I, on the opposite side of the street, we’re walking past these warehouse kind of buildings, and I’m remembering it as I’m relaying it. So I apologize. If I’m looking down because I’m actually reliving that thing. It was a guy who’s clearly gay. He was very stereotypically gay. He was white, and I mean, like white. Like down, right? Any white here? What do I hear in the background? Is that you hear my wife and I was like, Okay. Luckily, my husband’s taking a nap. You know, this thing has been really stressful on him.


working from home.


The, but I was walking down the street, and there were four or five. I want to say, younger people surrounding this guy and they were pushing him like each other. So he was sort of in the middle. He was walking, he’s trying to get away from them and he’s pushing them. And, uh, and it’s clear that they were they were gonna beat him up or do something. And without thinking and very stupidly, I ran across the street and I just plowed into them. Like just Knock. Knock them all over and I got up and I yelled, if you pick on someone your own size like me, right, and they all ran, right, they ran now it’s not that I’m a tough guy or anything, I think, more or less, I took them by surprise. I wasn’t out then. Wasn’t out. And I think all that pent up. Like Yeah, I don’t even know what to call it, but it just came out. And I would never in a million years relate to this person that I was defending, nor would I ever put myself in a position To be around someone like that, because I was still in the military, in the reserves at the time, but still, and, uh, and I just pent up just blew out of me when he thanked me profusely a month back and my friends like why did you do that whatever and I I had to quickly think on my feet to come up with an explanation that it wasn’t because I’m gay. It’s just I don’t like bullies and then I was whatever. But after long after that ended, Kim I started to think that but for the grace of God there go I, I could have been that person. And right now I can defend myself and even now I can defend myself. But there is going to come a time the great equalizer called you know, age Yeah, there’s gonna come a time where I’m not going to be able to defend myself and I am going to have to rely on others to look out for my well being and protection. And and I think that’s why when Nick brought up chatting with you and some of the work that you’re doing, it really struck home for me because one is I’m a family man. I have daughter, she’s 29 my grandkids are nine and 10. Right? They’re mixed race, I worried to death about what their life is going to be like in the future, right? But see what’s been going on in Chicago and everywhere across the country? What are these beautiful kids going to have to have to face? How do you prepare them for that? And I feel completely obligated to do my part in the position that I’m in now to try and make some sort of change if I can. And, and I am also doing that for me, because what happens when I’m 80 years old? Yeah. You know, and I can’t defend, I can’t defend myself. So and right now what I see is exactly what you say is there is no mechanism to protect us. We’re at the mercy of if we can’t get into one of these LGBT owned assisted facilities or if we can’t provide for our own care. That’s what we saw late 2014 Yours is not, we’re not going to be able to be connected because of, you know, institutional homophobia or whatever you want to call it. So people like you are my heroes. First of all, I have to say this before I, before I even get any further, you give off such a good energy. I feel like all this light is just flowing through my screen. And I was like, I don’t think I have her on my show.


Thank you, thank you. I get that I got that from my mother who’s no longer with us. But she was always a person who just exuded warmth and love towards anybody she came across.


Well, let me just tell you, especially now it is like, it’s just, it’s nice. It’s nice to feel it and to see it. So I just wanted to make a mention of maybe your mother did did good by you.


Thank you. I’m sure she hears that.


Yeah. You hear that?


So I want to go into, I want to go into a little bit, if I can’t segue off of this, that something was really interesting that that, uh, that I read and it said, say talking about safety, right. And this thing caught me by surprise because I’m a, I’m a very big supporter of, of the rule of law and police as a general rule. And the thing that I read here I thought was fascinating. He said, calling 911 on a client should be viewed as a potential act of violence and should not be taken lightly. Now, that is a complete antithesis to the way I was reared. You know, the way I was weird was policemen are your friends. If you need help, go to a policeman, you call them and they will, they will assist you. Let’s talk about that, because that is such a. That’s such an interesting statement.


Yeah. And that’s a hot topic right now. Yeah.


I’ll say, you know, I think most people have a very complicated relationship with them. Police and people, black people and other people of color in particular, and back in the day queer people as well, more broadly. So, you know, I’ll share a few examples from my own life. I remember growing up in Kansas City, Missouri, which, you know, the more I’m in Chicago, the more I view that places the South


several times and I


feel like


it’s coming along though. And I remember it’s probably, I don’t know, five or six years old. My family, one of my older cousins grown cousin, so maybe my second cousin, I think he was in his 20s at the time. He came into the house all bloodied. And, of course, the family was like What What happened? You know, all the things everybody is worked out. And he said that the police beat him up because they thought he was in the Black Panther Party, which was big in the 70s. You he was just walking from the bus stop to home. And in that happened to him. Flash forward. Many years later, I’m grown. I just visited my family in Kansas City just returned home got a call from my, one of my relatives that my brother and one of my cousin’s had been shot and my cousin actually been killed. To this day, I don’t know what happened. It was not police related. It was someone they knew who shot them. And you know, we’re going through the whole court system over the years and all I want is for this guy to go to jail and to fry.


They caught him.


They caught him. Yeah, it wasn’t hard. And then so those are stories from my life one where I witnessed the aftermath of the police beating up an innocent person, and one where I wanted the police to catch the person and send them to jail. I’ve had conversations with young people who are were in favor of more the blue box cameras being installed in alleys and young people who don’t want the police anywhere near them. So it’s it’s complex. And I will say I’ve also been a person who has had to deal with folks who have been victims of hate crimes. And the only thing that gave that victim relief was knowing that the perpetrator couldn’t afford to get to make bail to get out of jail. But the bail system is very disproportionately adverse to black and brown people, and people linger in jail. Not even they haven’t even gotten the trial. They just can’t afford to get out. So I’m naming a lot of things that are complicated when it comes to our criminal justice system, including the police. I’ve also seen police show up and just immediately wreck havoc on folks, not even knowing what’s going on. So calling the police for some organizations, especially those that work with young people, has many, many ramifications for the young person. Yeah. For the young person who wants some relief who might be getting beat up or whatever the case may be.


They want it taken care of,


well, they’re already in crisis. And if you have a disproportionate police response, it’s an exacerbation of an already difficult situation. Exactly.


And then we know that in some places, police are gonna de escalate the situation, and all parties can walk away. And another situations, police are not even going to try to de escalate. They’re just going to start arresting people. Right. And race has a lot to do with that.


You know, it’s funny, you mentioned that my own daughter, we were talking on Facebook and she was talking. You know, this is what happens when you have kids, and you raise them to be independent free thinkers, and then they become independent free thinkers and use it on you.


Yes, I have children.


I was like, I was like, What did you do? But I guess he did something right. But she’s, you know, she’s watching what’s happening in the country and her and she has two mixed race children. And she’s like, fearful. Yeah, for them. You know, right now they’re nine and 10. You know, but what happens when they’re 19 and 20?




You know, and, and I can’t even imagine I don’t even want to imagine truthfully, Kim, I can’t even get my head around that because I would lose my mind if somebody you know, hurt them. But the the, the issue that I, the way I grew up, was was policeman’s policemen were your friends. And as long as you didn’t get any trouble, you’d never had to deal with them. But now it’s such that you do deal with them whether you’re in trouble. Because when I like, I have to tell you, I drove the other day I was in Lakeview, I was driving north. And, and I forget we’re going, we’re going somewhere, then we’re going somewhere, and a police car got behind me. And at first I’m like, oh, man, he keeps turning where I’m turning. So you know that any minute those lights are gonna go on and I’m gonna get a ticket, or they’re gonna stop me and just check. You know, let me see your license and registration, etc. I wasn’t doing anything wrong. But, but then I thought to myself, now, DJ, you’re who you are. Now. Let’s just change one thing. Yeah, let’s just change your skin. Yeah. And what does that feel like? Yeah, and would I be treated the same way? And so I’m trying to educate myself about that because I’ve never been. I’ve never been exposed to that Kim know and it’s not my fault. I just have never been exposed. I’ve always been of the mindset that if you work really hard, you can achieve anything. But that’s not really the case is it? You could you can have all the right things and do all the right things and still and still not achieve. achieve that. And I


can do all the wrong things and achieve a lot dependent.


I know a lot of people that could not be where they are. Uh huh. But he but I want to bring up a point that that came up, I’m preparing for a speech, I’m going to give a speech in October at a conference in Las Vegas. And one of the things that I’m sort of researching is, you know, the hot topic right now is everything that’s happening in the country. And one of the things that I asked myself like, okay, institutional racism, you know, as a mechanism to to prevent people from achieving their full potential, I get it. If that’s the case, how does how do people like Barack Obama circumvent that or penetrate that to reach a certain level of success? And, and I use him as an example, I could use a whole bunch of other people. As example, how do you how, how come they can find a pathway to success, but so many can’t? And that is, to me that is the fundamental question that I’m trying to educate myself about is, is what is the big difference? And because to me, if we can figure that out, that’s where we should focus our resources is making sure that those there are more of those pathways.


But it’s more though because even with, you know, Barack Obama success if he didn’t have security detail around him, and he was just a black man driving his car, and he still has been pulled over by the police. And you imagine none of that matters.


There is a story a few years ago about


a professor at Harvard or yeah, oh, yeah,


I remember. Yeah. I didn’t know the story you’re talking about.


Yes. Trying to get into His own house?


Yes, yes. Yes. And an officer was not kind to him at all. And then we see this the stories the the bird watching story where? Yeah, here’s a guy. Oh, horrible. Yeah. So, you know,


you as a native New Yorker, I and I know that area of Central Park. I was like, first of all, she’s killing her dog. So she’s Yeah, that dog. Because, you know, we love animals and they


took the dog and got him back.


Yes, but they took the dog but I’m like, first of all, you’re choking your dog to death, and then your craziness here and now. I’m gonna geek out on you for two seconds just because I think you’re a wonderful person. I feel like I can do it. But I’m a huge Star Trek fan. And to find out that thank you hear that Nick. Nick doesn’t care what? He doesn’t he literally doesn’t. I had a show about the difference between Star Trek and Star Wars and he was Completely apathetic about it. No, I know seriously. But did you know Did you know that he was also a writer too that created one of the first LGBTQ characters for a Star Trek comic.


I didn’t know that. But I’ve read some of his comic books.


Yeah. So I was really pissed off. I was like, first of all, he’s a very articulate, he’s a birdwatcher. He’s a nerd and a sci fi geek. He is about as least of a threat to you as possible. And he was giving your dog a treat and you went back crazy on him. Now she lost her job and she had to some other ramifications. And absolutely, in my opinion, rightfully so. Because her underlying preconceived notion of who he was, was absolutely ridiculous. should be should be absolutely condemned universally. I’m trying to get him to be on my show. Number one, because I want to talk about that incident number two, I want to talk about the Star Trek Congress. And, but the, but I I do understand that and I and that’s hard for me to understand it’s hard for me to wrap my hands around, wrap my thoughts around because as an intellectual person interested in knowledge and wisdom, I just I can’t understand. I can’t understand it like, I don’t know why but I for some reason, can’t understand how somebody could not like you because you’re African American, and it discount everything else emanating from you and who you are, and something as irrelevant as the melanin content of your skin.


But they don’t see me in front. They don’t get past that part. Right, right. That’s not what they see. They see a history of, you know, stereotypes and thoughts and things that have been left to fester and not be challenged. They don’t exist. Same day, I mean, it could be anybody. You know, we have all been conditioned to see the white body as the standard. And everything else is a deviation from that. And I’ll venture to say the white male body as a standard, and everything else is a departure from that. And so it’s even. It’s embedded in the psyche. It’s an unconscious bias that’s been cultivated generation after generation over hundreds of years. So we have to work really hard to undo that. And even when we know that that is the thing that’s sort of moving us when we don’t know it, really fight hard to do, what is not always natural to do, to see people as as people and to take those labels off, but at the same Same time honor those differences honor those cultures honor race and in not see people as all the same or that that should even be the goal that everybody is the same so it’s it’s a lot in in at the expense or possibility of being a little controversial I don’t think the answer is always the fire someone there’s no discussion. There’s no let’s talk this out is just you’re out of here and then that person hasn’t learned a damn thing other than maybe to be quiet.


No, that’s like, you know, I’m watching on social media. I don’t comment very often on social media because it’s just it’s so volatile and but there’s a cart kids cartoon and now they want to ban the the there’s a hope bunch of little dogs. And there’s a one of the Paw Patrol. Right and I know that because I know that my I know about this because my niece, my granddaughter loves those car patrol. But anyway, there’s a movement out there to to ban the police dog, you know, the police one on the cartoon. And I just think to myself, come on, how far is this gonna go? You know, there are I don’t know how many policemen there are some there’s a percentage of bad ones but how how is it okay to paint the whole police force with a broad brush. You know, why can’t we just say okay, there are bad police like there are bad people. They’re bad anyone. But I also believe we’re I think that the I think that the real focus should be is not the police is one thing. How do I say this and I don’t know even how to articulate it but watching the video of that police officer on George Floyd’s neck. If that doesn’t outrage you as a human being forget your color Kim forgetting embrace it. Everything going back to what my mother said, as a human being if that does not read you if that doesn’t absolutely outraged you something’s wrong with you. And, and that’s what it did it outraged me about that treatment. I just can’t even articulate it any any further than that is just outrageous. However, where I think the bigger issue is is, is number one. Police in general now have become small military forces, right? Yes. And I mean, listen, as someone who’s in the military I flew c 130s. I was in plenty of combat. I see some of these SWAT teams and police forces they are a military unit they’re not they’re not you know, the policemen that I remember that walk the beat or talk to you or anything. These are military things. And and these guys think they they have no accountability. And a lot of times in a lot of cases that scares me. Yeah, scares me a lot. So my but the second part of what I want to say is where I see the biggest issue is in the criminal justice system. Something you said earlier was fascinating. I, I knew that factoid, but I hadn’t heard it in a while. And that is how the bail system is disproportionate. But more importantly, it’s the jail sentences are disproportionate for similar crimes. So why is that? And that’s where we need to make the change because ultimately, when I go before, and look, they haven’t done that very often, but for traffic, and so forth, but you go before a judge, he’s like, Okay, this guy is a dispassionate judge. And he is not going to have any of the emotion of disagreeing with the officer, right, the arresting officer or the sighting officer. He’s gonna go out there and say, Okay, okay, listen, this officer did this. And you did that and I’m going to dispassionately hand down my judgment, according to the law without, without favor to anything else. That’s where I think the brain Down is, I think, even if you have a running with the police, you don’t even have the protection of the judicial system to sort of say, Okay, I’m going to stop this from going any further. It just continues and goes on and on and on. How do we how do we stop that? How do we how do we interject and slow that down?


Well, the breakdown is many places, right? Um, why are police stopping people in the first place? Is is one thing and a lot of times again, no crime has been committed. But you you mentioned, you know, per se a percentage of cops are bad. And and I believe that’s true too. And I’m having some This is a moment of learning and thinking and I’m imagining for me around police. I work with With a lot of


activists who want to abolish the whole


prison system, the police scene systems and all of those things and, and you know, my knee jerk reaction at first was like, Oh, no, we have to have something, or, you know, not everybody is, is is bad. And I’m coming to a place where I think we really have to imagine a different system. And it’s not enough that for me to say that there’s just a few bad cops, the institution is bad. The institution was created to find slaves and bring them back to their masters. So with that, sort of underlying history and all that has evolved in this country around Race. I am no longer comfortable saying that we have to have the police. We have to have something


to make sure that people are held accountable. But also


but is that a realistic? I mean, truthfully, is that a realistic goal that can be obtained? I know that there’s a lot of call for that right now and I just I don’t know if that is


it can be I mean, you’re a sci fi person. How many things have you seen in sci fi that were like, Oh, my God, that can’t happen.


I know I wish


I could can just tune out for a second but I wish Gene Roddenberry version of the future, you know, could really be today where none of this really mattered. There was no money there was no aspiration towards that it was more like


he had some gender issues though.


He did have some gender issues. Thank God we had Sulu who pushed back a little bit. But then also of course, you know, We had, I mean, from my perspective as a young kid watching Star Trek, I was like, Oh my goodness. Yeah, there’s a there’s a black lady. There’s an Asian. You know, I didn’t grow up. I grew up in an all white house. Yeah, right. Yeah. And to see that on television was really my first exposure to a multicultural, all working together. And one thing


in a way, it was for me too. I grew up in a black household in at a time where, you know, there was white flight out of cities. So my school when we moved into our house in Kansas City, when I went there, in kindergarten, on the my class was predominantly white. I was one of maybe five black kids. By the time I got to third grade, there were maybe four white families in the whole school. So I had growing up a very, very black experience. See what until I got to college that I was more had to be in the same spaces with majority white. So Star Trek was like Mecca and utopia.


It was me and me too as as you know, because my parents were not, you know, they’re not like parents aren’t saying they talk about all these things. My parents never talked about race relations or anything like that it was we didn’t grow up that way. So seeing it and seeing it in action was a was a was really eye opening. But you know, you bring up a point I want to go back to the police and I always think that even in Star Trek, they had security, right they had a security Richards and you know that if you wear a red shirt, you’re only in the show one time. Yeah, you know, because they killed you off every red. You know, I always thought I never wanted to buy a Star Trek red shirt because I was


not we didn’t want to


be that person. But The the I was reading somewhere today and this is all new but I was reading somewhere today that one of the is the city’s I think Minneapolis city council voted to defund the police. And then they’re going to do community, community enforcement of some sort. And I, I wonder what that looks What does that look like? Like how do you I mean, how many people that want to commit crimes or gangs or drugs or whatever? How does a community focused police force or for whatever you want to call them? How do they protect them that?


Well, I think that’s what has to be worked out. Right. Um, the police force we see today too, in the in you brought this up to


evolved over time. Yeah, it wasn’t always this.


So I think it is.


It’s a collective effort to figure out what that looks like.


And I didn’t mean by By the way, I didn’t mean to bring up such a heady issue because


there’s no no, it’s fine.


No, it’s all been an hour long show. But no, no. But I was just curious what your overall opinion was about it. Because for mine is like I agree with you 100% that this has to change. And I am fully in support of, of this bringing to the forefront the fact that this has to change because of these things. I just don’t know what the end end. Yeah,


yeah. And I agree with you. I don’t know what the end looks like, either. For me, unlike in the past, though, I am more and more open to going on the journey of figuring out what that is


agreed. We can agree on that. I don’t know what that is. I hope I


don’t know what it is.


I hope some smart people can figure that out. And I want to be part of that conversation because I think it’s an important part of the conversation. But at the same time is is I don’t know. I don’t know enough about it to really have an intelligent, broader conversation. And that’s something for another show. But that is absolutely it’d be interesting to see where we are a year from now. Mm hmm. One of the things my daughter was saying is that is that if all of this, what she hopes is that all of this upheaval, and all of this coming together and all of this collective Lee shouting for change, actually, finally does something. Yeah. And where we are, where we are next year. Now I want to talk about I know we’re in the final part of the show, but I want to talk about a couple of things that i i i read not in one of the things that said, decriminalize decriminalization of sex work, right. There are two parts that decriminalization of sex work and then the increasing the amount of health services available to youth without parental consent. So if you can explain a little bit more about that, what does that mean?


Yeah, so




creating the possibility for young people to have health services. Whether it’s reproductive health or other services without parental consent is particularly important for young people who are not connected to their families. We talked about young people earlier, being kicked out of their homes or leaving home. But there are also young people living at home who are not in the safest of environments. They’re young people who are experiencing mental physical sexual abuse on within the home, or within a place where they are purportedly safe. Who needs the agency to be able to make decisions about their health, whether it’s reproductive services or, or whatever it may be. So that’s one piece on legalization of sex. work. So that’s a whole nother show as well. But I think part of the conversation is around people having the right to make a living from last audio, people have the right to make a living with sex work. A lot of times the folks who have been penalized for sex work are the women are others who in some cases, trans women who are just trying to survive, and that is the most lucrative way for them to do that. And there’s something in this country around consensual sex, we just don’t we think it’s a bad thing. And that’s a notion that has to that has to end so legalization as part of sort of moving us forward into the real world and into people’s ability to make a living with their bodies if that’s what they want to do. I think part of the reason it’s criminalized is that the United States just has a weird relationship when it comes to sex. Just we don’t like to talk about it, we like to regulate it. And in all the variations of it. But legalizing sex work does a couple of things it can help provide benefits and safety. For folks who are engaging in sex work, especially the folks for whom this is their living. It provides an opportunity to increase their their wages As well as their access to health care if it’s considered to be a legal job.


Also, this is


criminalizing sex work between two consenting, or two or more consenting adults is another way that society police’s bodies, and it is from a philosophical perspective. It’s, it’s from another time, right a very puritanical time that some people think we’re still in but we obviously are not. So it the outcomes for cisgender and transgender women in particular can be so much better. We see over and over again trans women, especially trans women of color and black trans women in particular. Having increased Singing carme against them as they are engaged in sex work, which is often the only job, if you will, that they can have that will provide adequate income for them to live their lives.


So you’re saying that legalizing sex work for individuals of legal age, right? Because one of the reason why I asked that and the reason why I was curious about it is when I purchased a newspaper, in another Midwestern town, I won’t mention any names or places. The uh, the the publisher was an older person and he preyed on these homeless youth people under the guise of I’m helping them right now. I’m gonna be I’m gonna be direct here. This is the New Yorker in me, but he would go out he go to the bus Stop need find someone that didn’t have a place to save as hell, you could come stay with us. And here’s a cell phone, I’m gonna give you food and all you have to do is this. Right? And, and he’s 70 they’re 18 Yep. Right. And I get it. I don’t agree with it, but the other person was 18 of legal age to make that decision. But that’s, that’s a real thing that happens.




And, and oftentimes, something you said really struck home, it might be the only thing at 16 I’m sorry, 18 if they’ve been kicked out of their house unprepared, that they have the skills for that to help them eat or to help them you know, find a place to live or whatever. Um, but I wonder, I guess my, my curiosity is, is how do you how do you make that distinction, right? Like, how do these people that let’s say like this, this publisher who wanted that that relationship With that younger person, what prevents them from crossing that line and going, you know, below that the legal age,


there’s nothing preventing them from crossing the line and other than the possibility of getting caught. The reality is there are younger people engaged in sex work, especially after they are no longer living at home because that is the only way they can make money or eat. And, you know, the, the issue is that young people should be protected. They should have safe homes, they should have the ability to be kids. You know, that’s, that’s a matter that is different and there’s clearly anytime someone is having they are engaging in the survival economy, whether it’s sex work, or selling drugs, or, you know, selling on goods that come from somewhere, we don’t know. There’s a power dynamic going on there. And oftentimes we punish the person who is in the vulnerable position of having to make the living. And don’t punish the person who is preying upon these folks. And it’s kind of a dual edged sword, you know, on the one hand, you want people to be able to survive. You don’t want them to have to make those kinds of choices, though.


I totally agree. And first of all, I love that term survival economy because that’s really what it is. It’s a sub economy just like the you know, the off the books economy, you know, doing that, but the survival economy is, Hey, I’m doing what I have to do not to make a living or or Prepare for the future but just to survive, that’s right. Just to survive. That’s a horrible choice to have to make, especially when you’re young. The the, I’m always fascinated by, by, by that, what you said the power dynamic between those people that are in power that have all of those things that society says we should have as a successful person. And then we use that as a weapon to against someone that has nothing and nothing to lose and is is participating in that survival economy. And then what happens when they’re done with them? Right, they just Yeah. What is the emotional consequence? What is the the, what is the impact on their psyche going? they mature into adults because right? What did I read that your brain doesn’t fully mature until you’re 25? I think right. So for me five, you are completely malleable and impressionable So you have someone taking advantage of you and next thing you know, yet you become desensitized or you become, you know, disassociated with society or you have no empathy or etc, etc, etc. I can go on and on on how do you how do you recover from that, and how do you how do you identify? I do identify those, those, those key moments when someone is being subjected to that, and how do you interfere with that progression before it gets to that point?


Yeah, that’s a that’s a tough one that’s sort of outside of my realm of experience. But, you know, in the, the work that we have done even in convenings of young people, you know, I’ve I’ve had conversations or heard conversations,


but I would, I would suspect that that youth would be that Yeah, is highest


demographic, if you will, of people vulnerable to that. Imagine that it’s once you get past the Hey, my parents kicked me out. And now I have to find a place to stay. But now I have all these people, people preying on me willing to give me money if I do this, how does that what is the long term impact on self esteem and, and everything and how do you become a productive member of society? After that, you know what I mean? I, I don’t know. I was I was lucky. I never had to be confronted with that. But I would imagine in, in, in homeless youth, especially LGBTQ homeless youth, yeah. Because then it’s already built in that, hey, you’re already predisposed to to this, you know, I don’t know trauma, trauma. I mean, I feel traumatized just asking. I know, quite frankly,


I know. I will say though, one thing that I’ve observed with young people who are experiencing homelessness is how they really look out for each other. I mean, it’s it’s amazing. Amazing how they really look out for each other from connecting each other to resources at organizations to sharing meals and whatever they the clothes off their back.


All the things


and amazing the resiliency of the human spirit.


Yeah. And you hate you hate that that has to be tested. Right? I mean, we resiliency is something is a word that I use a lot too. But to have resiliency show up means that there’s been some trauma, there’s been something that happened that has to make you resilient. Yeah, and


I don’t want young people to have to be


I’m gonna share something with you. It’s heartbreaking. When I first got together with my husband, right. Our daughter is his biological daughter and his wife. He was married to one His wife had and continues to have major drug issues. Right. And, and, and I remember, you know, I came from I came from very stable home to loving parents, I all of that. And here I met this 10 year old girl, right? And she’s worried about her mother being evicted. She’s worrying about, you know, her mother not being able to pay the rent, and she’s not gonna have enough food and this and that. I remember telling Joe, I said, What 10 year old should be worried about those things. Actually, as parents, it’s your obligation to protect them from that for as long as possible. because let me tell you, if I could, if I could turn back time and live with my mother and have her do my laundry and cook my food again, if she was alive. I would never complain. Never, ever, ever, ever complain. You know, because adulting is hard. It can be hard


It is so


and that’s as an adult looking back. But what about a 10 year old, a 10 year old child worrying about that? I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be a year. young person, you know, with your whole support structure ripped out from underneath you. So that is a show I would love to have you back on to talk specifically about the trauma of LGBT q youth, African American LGBTQ youth especially what happens when they are what happens when a 16 year old 15 year old are put out from their family and their whole support structure is ripped out from underneath them. What does that like, first of all the just the trauma of going from a safe environment to the wolves for lack of a better term? Yeah. Is is gives me


chills. Yeah. And I’m gonna say, you know, for any child being put out has, you know, you mentioned that I co host outspoken and I and others hear stories on that stage that I call it sacred ground because people share So much


how do you not fall apart and pry what sometimes I do


in the hole? The trick is bringing them back from those stories but but yeah, and and it’s really opened my eyes and helped me really understand the words everybody has a story. We say that but we don’t always internal lies that because again we make knee jerk assessments about people and not see them as human beings who have stories and just any young people, young person. Having that support system ripped out is is heartbreaking and I think it’s probably even more so for a young person who has come from that two parent middle class household Who hasn’t had to think about resources hasn’t had to think of brown to get paid, you know, hasn’t had to really, really, I mean, there’s there’s suffering and then there’s suffering, right? But hasn’t gone through that kind of hardship and then all of a sudden they’re out.


Right? Like my daughter, her biggest issue when she was when she was growing up when she starts becoming a teenager was curfew and, you know, staying up late and all of that, you know, what is it? You know, what if what happens if, if, if all of a sudden I said okay, listen, you need to move out tomorrow. Well, right now, you know, and you’re 60 Yeah, and I’m gonna tell you another thing. I’m gonna close out with this and I’ll give you the final words on it. By the way, I could probably talk to you for


I know right or hour, easily, easily.


As a Christian person, I often am Absolutely stymied by people saying, I’m putting you out in the name of God or because of what have you. And so I’ve armed myself with Scripture and about all of this, right. And one of the arguments that I gave in a, in a heated debate, and I got roundly booed at a conference about this, and I said, Listen, first of all, and I’m just, I want to try and summarize this quickly. But I said, the Old Testament was a preparation for Christ right? And I’m not going to get all religious, but this is just information was a preparation for Christ. The New Testament is his life on Earth. So why are you cherry picking things from the Old Testament light from Leviticus or Corinthians


anything that to discriminate?


Now, it doesn’t make sense. You’re, you In fact, are violating the old the whole truth that you like to hold up as the as your measurement, which is Christ teachings and that is completely wrong because I can go to The Old Testament say, oh, by the way, you know if you meant gonna, when can I start stoning you, you know, or when you if your husband dies and you get to be the property of his brother, you know, I mean, if you’re going to cherry pick cherry pick, and Christians, emphatically always say to me, Well, I just love Jesus. Like that isn’t that’s what they say to me. And I think to myself, especially those people that put their kids out on the street, that they are so far away from what Christ intends them to do regarding issues like this with their children, and yet, and yet, we have no religious leaders standing up emphatically saying that they’ll say it quietly or they’ll say it here and there, but these major leaders are not standing up saying at night I, I look at this and I say, I look at at at youth homelessness especially and I say, the first thing is is you love your kid no matter what. Right? Parents love murderers. They love kids, it doesn’t matter, you love your kid, no matter what, you don’t put them put them out in the street just because they have their sexual of something is so inconsequential in the makeup of their whole psyche as their sexuality. It’s just one facet of a multifaceted human psyche. And, and and you protect your kid, you protect your child, why would you put them into the absolute worst scenario possible? Mm hmm. I don’t understand it, Kevin, to the day I draw my last breath. I will never understand it. And nobody can ever have a valid argument in my mind that justifies doing that. Hmm. I want to see the day when there’s no need for someone like you




Yes, right. But until then, yeah, you know, this is what this is what we have to do education. You know, well, first of all, you got to deal with the problem. You got to deal with the fact that these kids are on the street, or they got kicked out or whatever. And then you deal with, you know, trying to educate people in China. Trying to change hearts and minds. And after talking to you, I feel empowered and impassioned to to try and help in whatever way that I can. Because this is something that has always been important to me. And I’ve never really, I hate to say I’ve never really done anything except talk about it. So I hope we’ll stay connected.


Oh, my holy stay Connect, and I hope


that you all you’ll reach out to me and I have some I sent you a link to my advisory board. Okay, you can see who’s on it. These are the big players in LGBT media. We can help we can help. I will I will commit to helping.


Okay. That’s, that is wonderful to hear. DJ and I’m going to take you up on that. I hope you will. I will. And I hear what you’re saying about how unconscionable This is that young people get kicked out and I will say my experience is that people who kick their kids out. still love them. The check allenge that we face is one, this ongoing drumbeat of who is worthy and who is not. But also when people have to let go of something that they believed for so long, you also have to give them something to hold on to. And I think a lot of times, and I’m not excusing any parent for kicking the kid out and I will say, as, as someone who is parented, there have been moments where he wanted me to fire


we can change a lot more than takes an hour.


But But you know, I bring that up because one frustration of parenting but also, um, it’s not about going toe to toe with people. It’s also about helping them let go of something that is a central belief to who they are. And hold on to their child at the same time. And a lot of times in LGBTQ spaces because of our own personal experiences. We don’t want to help the parents, the parents are evil. And that’s all right. But we have got to figure out how to stop the flow of use onto the streets. And that means we have to deal in some ways with parents.


I want to tell you something that my mother said that, uh, that addresses that. I’ll never forget it because we were sitting at the table and she said, I don’t understand. Mm hmm. I don’t understand what, what this is. But what I do understand is I love you, you’re my son, and that is something that I can get my, my, my arms around. And I think that that has to be the first thing is like, okay, you love your son you don’t or daughter or whomever you don’t have To understand the dynamics of everything they’re going through, right, but you can understand that you love them. Mm hmm. Everything else is teachable. Kim, everything else. Absolutely everything else is is is discussion. But if you start with that, yeah, don’t throw someone you love that that would be my first comment. Yeah. Do you love them? Yes. Why don’t you throw somebody you love on the stream.


And that’s those are the kinds of conversations I have had with parents one on one, but they, sometimes some not all also need to go through the fears that they have, because that’s what’s happening. And they don’t want to end it’s a weird thing, right? You’re not facing your fears. You’re casting the fear aside and creating a situation for the young person in your life to come up against some super scary stuff that you cannot even begin to imagine. But by talking to people and again, having Then go through that cycle of I’m afraid. I’m afraid for my child, I’m afraid. I don’t want them to be this way. Because a lot of times can create a pathway to having a household that where that young person can be there be themselves is not great. But they can be at home and not on the street and not be ostracized in the home. But if we don’t work in the home, too, right, we’re going to continue to see this.


You know, Kim, when I came out and everything was whatever I still was respectful of my mother’s home when I brought if I was seeing someone I brought them home, we didn’t you know, do overt overly PDA or anything like that. We were respectful because we didn’t want that. It took me many years to feel comfortable. Even holding a hand of my of my now husband in front of in front of my family. Now they don’t care. They love him. I would he would say they love him more than they love. May


I get that?


Too much history? And, uh, and so I think that that is a, you know, that’s sort of security is what helps you helps everything go forward if you can get to that point where even if they don’t understand that, even if the parents don’t understand that they can at least still say, Okay, I don’t understand, but I’m willing to learn. But first, I want you to know I love you. That’s the first thing


is the first thing.


That’s the very first thing, because to me, when that happened when my mother said that to me, my initial thought was okay, now I don’t care what anybody else thinks. Because now I have the support and of my family and acceptance of my family. I could do whomever you know. Yeah. And so often these kids that are put on the street, they don’t have that because they they don’t even have the chance to have that conversation, let alone right, let alone reach that reached that level. Now I want to I want to talk about one last thing. look past I wrote all over my notes with all my stick figures and Star Trek references. I’m sure Nick is sort of like, What is wrong with you? Okay, talking about police violence disproportionate, do you think how does it affect LGBTQ youth? And do you think it’s similar to African American people and and police violence? And then how wide is the gap, in your opinion between services available to LGBTQ youth and service services available to anybody else?


Wow, that’s you. Then another show. You got a lot in there, my friend.


So, you know, one thing I’ll point out is that there is an intersection between black youth and LGBTQ youth, right? So and sometimes, when it comes to policing, it is the blackness that is seen and not the queerness and I’m often times queer and trans people of color live and people of color communities. So that is particularly true in a place like Chicago with major segregation. So what is being experienced in communities of color in terms of policing and all the other issues are also being experienced by LGBTQ people of color? So I say that to say it’s the same, so they’re experiencing the same types of violence or policing, depending on the community that you’re in. There’s no no distinction between LGBTQ and and race in that in that context. I think there are never enough services for LGBTQ youth. And I don’t know that there will ever be enough LGBTQ specific organizations. So again, I go back to while I am absolutely for supporting LGBTQ affirming housing and LGBTQ rights. Focused organizations, I run them, I want them to continue to exist. We also have to make sure that mainstream institutions are competent, and that the staff and leadership, maintain their humility around cultural competency and the need to continuously learn to make sure that they’re taking care of LGBTQ folks who were utilizing their services. I think in this moment, there is a very much an opportunity for the queer and trans community, mainstream in particular, to be much more engaged in the movement for black lives because in part of that, shared history around police brutality. Our modern LGBTQ movement started with a riot in Stonewall, and that was precipitated by Ongoing, ongoing, ongoing incidences of police harassment and pure brutality. And we see the same in black communities. The I think the scale is different, the intensity is different. But there is that historical shared experience that could bring these movements together. And in many ways, especially among people of color, there’s already an overlap, that would be incredibly powerful in terms of gaining on not just the laws that are needed, that are important, but you mentioned hearts and minds earlier. And ultimately, that’s where we have to be. The Civil Rights Movement made great progress, but it was the appeal to hearts and minds that has made the cultural shift in the past, where it would be embarrassing for someone to make blatantly racist comments, I say In the past because we’re in an error,


we’ll call it Bizarro world.


Where it’s not so embarrassing anymore.


Quite frankly Kim, the only thing missing from 2020 is a moon sized comet impacting the earth.


You right? Cuz locusts are actually waking up after


the cod is right and


I’m like, Okay. I feel like right now I need to, like be in Egypt somewhere


What the hell? We’re only six months into


it I’m sorry, this is probably gonna be my last show I’m gonna go and we’re in some tropical island, it’ll probably have a volcano.


Right or be underwater but


but you know, I will tell you that there’s so much that we can talk about and I think there’s so much that we can do together and I’m committed to to doing that. And and I want to say I know that we’ve kind of run over a little bit I could see by Nick’s expression Nick is so patient with me, I swear, I know how he puts up with me. But I could talk to you for two hours, and probably more over so many different topics. Kim, it has been such a joy to have you on the show. It’s been such a pleasure to have an intellectual debate with you about some pretty tough topics and, and some depressing topics. But knowing that people like you are in are involved in it, knowing that, that you are doing the good work that you’re doing, gives me hope that that there is a light at the end of that tunnel. And by the way, you just a wonderful, a wonderful person. And I’m saying that from my opinion. And but I think you’re a wonderful person.


Thank you.


So your mom would be so proud and and anything that I can do. I sent you a link. It has my email in there as well. please reach out to me. I would love to win all over. This is over get together and and meet you in person and maybe talk about something that we can do together, or how I can help you get that message out on a broader platform using some of the connections that I have.


I appreciate that DJ, I will definitely


respond to that email. And also, I just want to thank you for having me on the show this


course. Wonderful fact that you’re a Star Trek fan. I mean, as far as I’m concerned, you’re in the A plus, you know, guests on it, you know, and we’ll have to talk about that more, too. But Kim, you have a wonderful, wonderful weekend, and I look forward to chatting with you again soon.


That sounds great. You and Nick. Have a great weekend too.


Thank you, Kim. Bye bye. give our best to your wife too.


I will bye bye

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