Larkin Street Stories: Confronting Hate Speech and Homophobia (Episode 2)

Uploaded by SAMHSA on 15.04.2011

Male Speaker: I came out to mayfamily and they rejected me. Toby Eastman: It's a story
that we hearsort of over and over again where a young person is leaving their home and all
ofa sudden finds themselves with no resources, no support, and having to createa whole new
life for themselves. Loch McHale: Yesterday Toby was doinga group and something just came
up and so I just of want to turn it over to Toby andso we can have a larger discussion
around that.Toby Eastman: So yesterday I was running the support group downat the Drop-In
Center. Earlier you were talking a little bitabout relationships and I'm wondering if
you want to say a littlebit more about that. Phillip: My boyfriend's HIV-positiveand being
in a relationship with somebody who's HIV-positive has its tolls and it'shard and it's difficult
but it's not impossible.Toby Eastman: One of the young people was having a pretty intense
conversation aboutsome things in his relationship and the other young people were engaged and
everybodyseemed connected and supportive of each other and then a new person cameinto
the group a little bit late and the energy of the group completely shifted.Phillip: Everybody
judges and thinks that - never mind. Toby Eastman: Hi, come on in. Welcome to the group.
I think I've seen you before.Darlene, right? Darlene: Yeah.\ Toby Eastman:And as soon as
she came into the room the energy kind of shiftedand the person that was talking shut
down and pulled back.It was actually clear to me that something had happened outside
thatwas being brought into the group. Okay, welcome. Thanks for being here.And eventually
it came out that the person that had walked into the room had saidsome derogatory things
to Phillip. I really felt like I had no other directionto go in but to say "Okay, we've
got to deal with what's in the room."Joel: So you're telling there's a sort of good thing
that this person camein and triggered the room? Toby Eastman: Well I'll tell you, Joel,it
was actually tough, the conversation was not easy, folks. We're notwanting to open up and
share. It wasn't really about anythingthat anybody said. It was just about the shift
in body language,the shift in the energy of the room that made me say "There's somethinghappening
here and there's something that needs to be addressed.Hi, I am Toby Eastman, I am the
Chief of Programs for Larkin Street Youth Services.I've been doing this work for about
20 years now.How are you guys doing? Have you guys heard ofLarkin Street before? We're
from Larkin Street Youth Services.When I told my friends what I do for a living most of
the time their responseis "Oh, that must be so hard." My response to that is "Actually,it's
fantastic" and I really enjoy going to work every day and it's always a newand fun and
exciting experience. Our goal is to help you do whatit is that you want to do. Izzy: Yeah.I
am trying to actually get a job. I need to get my resume together.Will someone help me
with that? Toby Eastman: Absolutely.I know a person that can help you with that.I think
on some level we actually - I do like to wear my hat or stay in my role asa mom and especially
in the role that I'm in in the agency, being responsiblefor the program staff. I sort of
hold this Mama Hen role.I'm the person that people come to when there's a conflict or
an issue or whena young person has a grievance. And I definitely use my parentingskills in
that realm. We inform young people and educate youngpeople about the choices that they are
making and the consequencesof these choices. This issue of safe space, right? Itdoesn't
happen just because we say that that's what it is, right? And youngpeople don't experience
safety. And particularly as a BTQ youth the minuteyou walk into a room with someone they're
not generally just going to openup and share anything because they've had negative experiences
when they do that.These are some of the ways that we make this drop-in center andLBGTQ-friendly
space. We are very specific about the kinds ofbehavior that is not okay I the space so
for example sexist, racist, homophobic,transphobic comments or behaviors. Safe sex information
and paraphernaliathat's appropriate and relevant to all populations, condoms in our lovelyrainbow
condom container. So again, it's the small things and thebig things that help young people
understand that this is awelcoming space for them. When they're in Larkin Street space
thingscan be cool and everybody can be getting along or so it seems and then what happensoutside
the doors might be something different.So following up with the individual youth, both
Philip and Darlene, to see where thingsare at with that conflict at this point and maybe
some education with bothof them around the impact of that kind of interaction.Liz: So
the majority of the people that we see in our services and in the cityaren't from here,
it's not like you instantly turn liberal the dayyou move into San Francisco. Nanette: A
gay-identified client was beingvery flamboyant and a client came to me and said "He's making
me uncomfortable,"and so it was somewhat of a new situation for me so what we didwas checked
in with both clients. Its' important to make sure that both ofthem are okay and let them
know that we support him feeling the way he's feelingand trying to create a safe space by
checking in with both of them.Logan: I mean we have a wide range of gender integration
throughout our staffand I think that gives an advantage to the youth coming in.Philip:
Me being a gay black male and then they say that "Oh I'mdating somebody who has HIV."
I mean I can kind of seemore like "Really? Why?" But if they knew himand they knew why
I like him and they knew why I'm with himit's a totally different situation. Toby Eastman:
I mean it's actually verysimilar in terms of the decision making and the conversations
thatI have with my daughter. This work absolutely makesme a better parent. It helps me see how
fortunateour lives are. Sasha: Usually like we'll walk downthe street and like to the
bookstore or something and we'll see somebody usuallythey have like a sing that says like
"Please help us"or something. Well I don't do like go help them - Toby Eastman: Right
thenand there? Sasha: Yeah. Toby Eastman: So when I'm at work andpeople come into my
office or into our agency, I help them, I do various tingsto help them get to a different
place in their life. But when you and I are walking down thestreet and we're on our way
to the bookstore or to dinner or whatever it isthat we're doing and I see a homeless
person on the street - well, if it'sa homeless young person I might actually give them my
card, I'd give themsome information about Larkin Street, right? But if it's a homeless
adult thenit's kind of like it's our time together, I want our time to be just our time
together,so I'm not at work all the time. Sasha: So you're not like a workaholic?Toby
Eastman: Exactly. I can't be a super woman.I can't just be helping people all the time.I
have to sometimes do stuff that's for me and for you.Sasha: Okay. There are people who
aren't as fortunateas we are and what makes me feel like really, really bad is that usually
like I- even if we are walking to the bookstore and it's our time togetherthat I would help
them. Toby Eastman: You feel like you shouldbe doing something to help. Well you know what
I always say, sweetie.You can do anything that you want to do with your life as long
asyou change the world. Male Speaker: Next time onLarkin Street Stories. Izzy: I don't
feel like a boy and I don'tquite feel like a woman unless I have a man paying me and
tellingme how beautiful I am.