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This is a homeless young man sleeping on the streets of the Mission district in San Francisco. I took the photo a year ago, when I went on a visit and toured the area in which I also lived...as a young street person many years ago-during part of the 1980's. I was a runaway at the age of 14 and slept in the same spot where this young unfortunant boy was sleeping.
Luckily, nothing too horrible happened to me when I lived on the street, except being chased by store owners for stealing food off their shelves, or being cold because my clothing got soaked from the rain. Overall, I was lucky.
However, I saw many young men my age who were living on the streets of San Francisco because their parents kicked them out of their homes as a result of thier sexual preference: the young men were gay. It was a time of hysteria during the "AIDS" epidemic. Many of these "derelict gay boys" were the friends who kept me-a single young attractive female-safe from predeters such as pimps. It was unbelievable to see so many teen boys tossed out of their house because of their sexuality. I was not tossed out of my home. I chose to leave because my environment was unsafe and full of pain.
I'm thankful because society has more acceptance towards people who are homosexual and there is not a huge stigma that comes with being gay.
I'm also thankful that I don't live on the streets anymore- I live in a warm home in the suburbs with my family, and I sleep in a comfortable bed. I have food to eat every night, that I buy with money from my job as a special education teacher.
I'm thankful of my terrible street living experience because it made me a stronger person. It helped me become empathetic to those who are poor, mentally ill, developmentally disabled, and/or have drug or alcohol addictions. ect. It shaped me into a tolerant, non judgmental person.
Living on the streets is not a good experience, especially as a teenager. But this experience gave me character and a deep understanding of many social and humanistic issues we face in our society.
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