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Making Room: Three Decades of Fighting for Beds, Belonging, and a Safe Place for LGBTQ Youth

Making Room: Three Decades of Fighting for Beds, Belonging, and a Safe Place for LGBTQ Youth

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By Carl Siciliano

From the founder of the nation’s largest housing program for homeless LGBTQ+ youth, a tender, uplifting account of his friendship with a nonbinary teenager and dozens of queer kids who inspired him to live a life of service and resistance

Our need for family is not easily extinguished.

Carl Siciliano met Ali Forney—a Black nonbinary teenager overflowing with life—in 1994, while working at a daytime center for homeless youth in New York City. Nineteen years old and driven from home, Forney was the heart and soul of the community, known for infectious laughter, fierce loyalty with friends, and an unshakeable faith that “God loves me for who I am.”

Then Ali was murdered, a moment of horror and devastation that exposed the brutality that teenagers like Ali faced in a city swept by gentrification, housing insecurity, and the onslaught of the AIDS epidemic. Motivated by Ali’s spirit and inspired by their shared community, Siciliano fought to create a home where homeless teens could live, socialize, and feel loved—bolstered by his own rejection from the church as a gay Catholic man.

This is Siciliano’s story of mending hearts broken by displacement and rejection, including his own. In stories poignant and uplifting, Siciliano shares what he learned from Ali and thousands of other queer teens—wounded, brave, spirited people who lived true to their inner experience and created family under desperate circumstances—while he helped lead a movement that compelled New York City to invest millions of dollars in kids who'd been ignored for decades.

Written with heart and profound insight, it's a landmark personal narrative, bringing to life an untold chapter of LGBTQ+ history and testifying to the power of community, solidarity, and the human spirit.

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