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Gaga Gives Back to LGBT Youth

Gaga Gives Back to LGBT Youth


Lady Gaga's Monster Ball tour has sold out stadiums across the world, and diehard fans will seemingly do just about anything for a ticket.

Which is likely how Lady Gaga tour sponsor Virgin Mobile came up with an idea to benefit a cause close to her heart. Gaga and Virgin have partnered with homeless youth shelters and programs with strong LGBT outreach to attract volunteers willing to give eight hours of their time in exchange for concert tickets.

Tuesday morning in Los Angeles, 14 volunteers -- mostly teens and 20-somethings -- picked up paint brushes and rollers to paint Hollywood's Covenant House, an outreach program and homeless youth shelter dedicated to getting kids off the streets.

"I'd say about 10% of our youth are LGBT," Covenant House California Associate Executive Director Sylvia LaMalfa told The Advocate. "It's sad to say, but a disproportionately high number of youth are driven from their homes because they're LGBT."

The program offers shelter, counseling and medical services, and career and financial planning advice. With some 17,000 homeless young adults between the ages of 18-21 in Los Angeles County alone, they need all the help they can get, Merians says. The exposure Covenant House has received from Gaga's involvement is "invaluable."

"We don't have ad dollars -- our money goes to the program," she said. "I'd love to have competition doing what we do, but we don't. We have 120 beds, so you see why something like this is so important for us."

Though Covenant House is one of the largest youth shelters in LA., The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center has a 24-bed program specifically for homeless LGBT youth, where they may live for up to 18 months while receiving free medical care, meals, counseling, career and education assistance, and more. The Center also operates an LGBT youth center, open 7 days/week, that provides meals, clothing, counseling, a GED preparation program and support to help youth get off the street - with 6 emergency beds for those who aren't ready to commit to a longer-term program.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition star Eduardo Xol joined the 14 volunteers in painting Covenant House's common room, expressing his thanks for the devoted turnout. The volunteers were all there for different reasons, the promise of Gaga tickets the icing on the cake, and several shared Gaga's dedication to LGBT youth causes.

"If it wasn't benefiting LGBT youth, I don't know if we'd have been quite as eager to do this," 18-year-old David, one of the volunteers painting the Covenant House, told The Advocate. "But it's important to us -- and you get Lady Gaga tickets."

His friend Andrew (pictured at right below, with David), 23, also volunteered for tickets and will attend law school in the with the hopes of spending his career "fighting for equality." He says gay fans are so devoted to Lady Gaga because she's that rare artist who speaks out for gay rights and really goes the distance.

"A lot of artists won't go full-force," he said. "But she's not afraid to throw it all out on the table -- to demand action from the president even."

Los Angeles is one of 25 cities Gaga and Virgin have targeted for volunteer outreach. In each of the cities, the organizations Gaga provides tickets for focus on outreach to LGBT youth.

"One in five of the homeless youth population in the U.S. are LGBT," Virgin Mobile USA Cause Manager Felicia Hill told The Advocate. "And that was key to Lady Gaga picking these organizations -- they have to feature LGBT friendly programs and focus on LGBT youth."

For more information on how to volunteer with or donate to Covenant House California, visit

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