Homeless Shelters

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homelessFacebook is a wonderful tool. It’s not just a place for friends and family to keep in touch, it’s also a place where you learn new things, and this is no exception. Someone posted this picture along with a huge lesson learned from her experience as a homeless person for a day. You know the old saying, don’t judge a man until you have walked a day in his shoes, well, she literally walked in a homeless person’s shoes. Well, her own shoes, but… well… you know.

I’m not going to post her entire text because it’s a bit long, so here is the link.

You know, I was homeless when I was a teenager and in my early 20’s. At age 15 I was kicked out of our families home, which was a travel trailer in a trailer park. I lived with a guy who I went to school with and his brother in a VERY tiny trailer for about 6 months. I was homeless again just 2 months after I turned 17 because my mother couldn’t handle me being gay. The deets are in my book. I lived in a motel for several years after that. It’s not easy being homeless.

When I was homeless, I dreamed of the day when I could finally write my book and become so rich that I would buy or build a big building to run a homeless shelter. Not just a homeless shelter for all the gay kids who have been kicked out of the house for being gay, but also for anyone who was homeless and needed a place to stay. The homeless shelter I lived in when I was 17 was run by the Salvation Army. I came out of the closet to one of the volunteers who warned me to keep my mouth shut, because if anyone found out that I was gay, they would kick me out of the homeless shelter. I was already homeless, and the homeless shelter would make me even more homeless? I never thought it was possible to be more homeless, but I guess I was wrong.

So, my dream would be that not only all the regular straight homeless people could live in my shelter, but all the LGBTQIA kids and adults could live there. EVERYONE is welcome, even pets. And your religion doesn’t matter, you can be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist or whatever floats your boat, I don’t care, as long as you don’t push it on anyone else.

Even though I didn’t quite make that much money from my book, I still have hope that one day my dream might come true. Never stop dreaming kids, because you never know if your wish will become a reality.

After reading the Facebook post, my dream of building a homeless shelter has evolved a bit. Instead of just supplying a shelter like the one I lived in where all the homeless people had to sleep on cots, I’ve decided that since this is just a dream, I might as well dream big.

japanese capsule hotelYou know those capsule hotels in Japan? This is what I would want for my homeless shelter. A cot is uncomfortable, believe me, I know. I think a capsule hotel (with doors of course) is the best thing because it gives them a more comfortable bed to sleep on and it also gives them some privacy. The shelter I lived in wouldn’t allow couples to share a private room, we all had to sleep in one room all in our own cot. I think this is more respectful to couples who want to sleep on the same bed in a private rooms. The beds would also be available for those who have to sleep during the day because they may have night jobs, or perhaps they’ve been awake during the night for so many years that they can’t possibly sleep at night.

The shelter would be open 24/7 so that people would have a nice air conditioned place to spend the hot summer days and the cold winter days indoors. There would also be a diner type of space where the homeless people could have 3 decent meals. There would also be public bathrooms with private shower stalls, and no one would be told they can’t use the bathroom because they are transgender either. EVERYONE has the right to go to the bathroom and take a shower in a private stall without being hassled. I’d have a thrift store space where people could pick out clothing to replace their old torn worn out clothes and to help them get a job in, and of course free laundry facilities so they will always have clean clothes.

And yes I thought about who would clean the capsules and cook and serve the food and clean the bathrooms and keep the entire place clean. Every homeless person is welcome to stay, and they are also welcome to work to pay for their room and board. Of course if they cannot work because they are disabled, that’s fine too, no pressure. There would be donation drives to help pay for the gas, electricity, water, cable, wi-fi and food, obviously. My book sales would pay for the startup, but then the rest would come from donations.

I spoke with a homeless guy at the grocery store one night. He asked for money and I told him I didn’t have any and he copped an attitude with me. He thought that I thought I was better than he was and I told him no, that I knew what he was going through. We talked and I found out that the reason he isn’t in the shelter is because there aren’t enough beds there. He told me that there are way too many people at the shelter and that not enough people were able to be helped, and it was raining that night too, so I felt really sorry for him. That’s the reason I still dream of this shelter. It’s just not fair that there are so many homeless people with absolutely no chance of getting a decent bed, shower, clean clothes and a decent meal.

I think about this every time I eat and every time I get in the shower and every time I lay down on my mattress to go to bed at night. All I can say is it is just not fair.

Anyway, this is just a dream and it’ll have to stay a dream since I don’t have that kind of money. I don’t see any other rich people stepping up to make this happen, and Bakersfield has a lot of rich people. Too bad they don’t share my dream.

Many people think that ALL gay people have an agenda. My agenda is to just live my life like everyone deserves, and I guess I do have an agenda, I’d like for homeless people to live decent lives too. Everyone deserves a roof and a hot shower and a hot meal. Is that too much to ask?

I haven’t stopped dreaming of writing fantasy fiction, and perhaps that will be what brings the money in, but I won’t hold my breath.

Just Words T-Shirt

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My friend Alyce sent me this t-shirt in, I want to say 2002, but I could be wrong, it was around that area.  Anyway, she was at a thrift store and she saw it she said that it screamed BUY ME FOR MIKE! so she did.  She and I were in a conversation via AOL instant message and she told me she bought me a t-shirt, but she wasn’t sure if I would wear it because of where I lived.  Whenever anyone thinks of Bakersfield, they always think redneck, republican and homophobia.  I waited for her gift and when it arrived I was more than thrilled.

I wore that shirt all the time.  Sometimes I would wear it two days in a row just because I loved its message.  I wore it every week no matter if I was going to the mall or the grocery store.  I didn’t care because I’m here, I’m queer, get used to it!  Besides, I really didn’t think anyone would even understand what it meant, I mean besides it having rainbow colors, I knew people would think it was a gay t-shirt, but I didn’t think they would get its meaning or what statement I was making.

It simply says “JUST WORDS” in random colors with lines of words all mixed together into 1 long sentence in rainbow colors.  The words behind JUST WORDS are simple words like milk, tree, bed, nipple, cock, breast, fag…. you know, your typical average every day words.  There are some that were so offensive that I was afraid that those words would stand out only to those who they offended, but nobody really got it so I felt comfortable wearing it out in public.

I was standing in the express lane at the grocery store one day and this woman glanced at my shirt and looked away, then glanced back at it a couple more times then said to me “I like your shirt” and I so wasn’t expecting to hear that.  I was expecting to hear “You got some nerve…. yadda yadda yadda” but it was quite the opposite.  Then another person, and another and another and it made me feel confident every time I wore it.  Of course some people needed an explanation, so I had to point out a few choice words and explain that the whole message that no matter what word you see on this shirt, it’s just a word, fag has no more meaning to me than the word cigarette which in fact is what they refer to it in the UK.  I don’t get offended when someone calls me a cigarette, so why would I get offended when someone calls me a fag?  It’s just a stupid insignificant word that means nothing to me.

I wore that shirt for so many years that it got so faded and now you can’t read anything because it has been washed so many times that the colors are fading and the words are cracking, so you can’t really read it at all.

A few years ago I decided that I wanted another one, but more in my current size since I had gained weight since the last time I wore my shirt.  I put the shirt on my desk and I just started typing those words out.  Of course I had to add some, delete some and change some because it was so difficult to read behind the big words that I just had to improvise.  I  came up with something that looks nearly the same as the very original, and I think I did a great job if I do say so myself.

So here is the image, if you like it then grab it so you can print it on your own shirt and wear it with pride.

Of course, I encourage anyone who wants to duplicate this to just go into gimp or photo shop and just start typing words and making it any way you want, or you can just click the image above and save it to your computer and print it (backwards) on iron-on paper and print it as is.   This is a replica of the above shirt but with a few modifications.

Enjoy, and let me know if you printed it and wore it somewhere.  Take a picture of you wearing it so I can see and share it with me on TwitterFacebook and Google+.  I’d be very curious to see how you look in it and what your friends and family had to say about it, whether they loved it or hated it lol.

UPDATE: LOL I had to make a few corrections…