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Hundreds rallied in New York's Union Square Monday to speak out against the city's proposed slashing of its contribution to youth shelters, including the Ali Forney Center, which provides housing for LGBT young people throughout the city. According to WCBS, the city spends approximately $12 million supporting the shelters but may be forced to halve its contribution because of a lack of funding.
Sandra Bernhard, an honorary member of the Ali Forney Center's board of directors, stressed the importance of keeping the shelters funded.
"Everybody needs a little guidance now and then," she told the crowd. "When you're left out in the cold -- the way many of these kids have been, rejected by their parents and their communities -- it's up to us to take them in and do some damage control because anybody can correct where they've come from in their life."
Lt. Dan Choi, who has become the face of the movement to end "don't ask, don't tell" said he understood the struggles of others who had been kicked out of their homes or rejected from their families because of their sexual orientation.
"So many of us have given up so much in our lives," he said. "So many of us may feel like there's not a lot of hope for everybody, but we stand here and we say loudly and we say proudly for all of those people who think they're alone, you are not alone! You are not alone! You are not alone!"
The rally was cosponsored by dozens of individuals and organizations, including the True Colors Residence and West End Intergenerational Residence, FIERCE, and the Hetrick Martin Institute.
Watch the speeches from Bernhard and Choi below:[youtube https://www.youtube.com/v/osocAV6WBw0&hl=en_US&fs=1& expand=1 site_id=25879312]