All About The Dorian Gray Youth Foundation
The Dorian Gray Youth Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was developed to help provide funding and resources to homeless LGBTQ+ youth in Northeast Ohio, while increasing awareness of how and why this is an under served community. We act as a service connector to ensure that individuals in need are provided with either the funding or access to services or items needed.
Why do we exist?
Currently, LGBTQ+ youth have a 120% higher risk of reporting homelessness compared to youth who identify as heterosexual and cisgendered and it is estimated that LGBTQ+ youth make up to 40% of the unaccompanied homeless youth population. This exponentially increases the risk of suicide, drug abuse, and risky sexual encounters. Oftentimes, LGBTQ+ youth become homeless from being forced out of their nuclear homes, leaving them with no access to a support system.
Frequently, homeless shelters or community centers do not focus directly on sexual orientation or gender identity when providing resources or shelter. This can lead to dangerous situations for homeless LGBTQ+ individuals who are often stigmatized in these areas or placed into shelters that do not confirm with their gender identity. Additionally, not all resources available are LGBTQ+-affirming, making it difficult for these at-risk youth to have access to safe and fair services and resources. Our mission is to help provide these at-risk individuals with the services or resources they need and connect them with LGBTQ+-affirming organizations that provide a safe space for them.
Most often, the community at large is unaware that these gaps even exist. The aim of the Dorian Gray Youth Foundation is to bring awareness to the general population that the LGBTQ+ homeless community is under served in the resources provided while making up a disproportionate percentage of those in need. Awareness is important to help those not in the community more deeply understand our struggles and to help educate service providers (homeless shelters, community centers, religious institutions, etc) on where they gaps exist and how they can improve to better serve this community.
How are we funded?
The Dorian Gray Youth Foundation currently receives funding through a variety of sources. Dorian Gray Galleries is an online art gallery of donated art that is sold through our online gallery with 100% of donations going directly to the foundation to serve those in need. Additionally, the Dorian Gray Youth Foundation accepts monetary donations and holds fundraising events with local businesses.
How does the funding get from the Dorian Gray Youth Foundation to individuals?
The Dorian Gray Youth Foundation works directly with social workers, homeless shelters, community centers, etc to connect directly with individuals in need. This ensures that 100% of the money needed by the individual makes it directly into their hands for their current needs via the Dorian Gray Relief Fund. We are currently working on an application process for individuals to apply for the Relief Fund in case they are not currently working with a social worker or community/homeless center. The Dorian Gray Relief Fund is intended to provide homeless LGBTQ+ individuals in need with gender-affirming clothing, finances for a safe place to stay, food, or other basic necessities. 100% of money that comes into the Dorian Gray Youth Foundation is available to LGBTQ+ homeless individuals or community centers that will be paid out through the Relief Fund.
How do we work with other organizations?
The Dorian Gray Youth Foundation works with other organizations and businesses in a wide variety of ways. We work with:
• Community centers, homeless shelters, social workers, and religious institutions to work directly with individuals in need and pass along awareness to those that are in need that the Dorian Gray Youth Foundation exists
• Local businesses for fundraising event opportunities and donations of goods in need that could provided directly to individuals or other community centers
• Other nonprofits to provide additional funding to those in need or assist them with finances for services they provide to the LGBTQ+ homeless community.
• Artists and art galleries for those interested in donating art or potential pop up sites for fundraising gallery events
Our mission is integral to us because at one point in both of our lives we experienced homelessness and the struggles and vulnerability that came along with finding LGBTQ+-specific resources. After navigating our own paths out of homelessness, we developed our careers but carried the lessons we learned along with us. With the current state of the world, we simply couldn't ignore things and move on. Join us in our mission to bridge the gap between hope and home!
Doesn't the name 'Dorian Gray' have a negative connotation?
If you are unfamiliar with the story of Dorian Gray, it is a novel from Oscar Wilde about a young man who lives life without abandon as only his portrait is affected by his life choices. People often see the character of Dorian Gray as negative or villainous due to his immorality. However, Dorian Gray was one of the first openly queer characters and was written in a time when such topics were still taboo. The book was written as Oscar Wilde was coming to terms with his own sexuality and refused to sensor the book at the request of publishers and public views. The book went on to be one of the most famous books in history. To us, Dorian Gray more so represents being unashamed and proud in the face of a society that so often misunderstands our importance.