LGBTQ Youth Adrift
Directed by Natalie Avery
KUED, 55:58, free online (streaming)
There are over 1.4 million homeless youth in the United States today and forty percent of them are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ). The independent documentary Outside is a microcosm of their lives adrift in an anchorless world, addressing the periphery issue of American public awareness.
The scene is set in one of the nation’s most socially conservative states, Utah. Natalie Avery, the director, spent three years following four gay homeless youths in their daily lives as they struggled with complex realities. Capturing the intimate stories told by the subjects themselves, Outside shows the conflicted emotions of the individuals and the family members and adult mentors who come in and out of their lives.
Through personal interviews, everyday conversations and other captured moments in their lives, the documentary explores the reasons behind LGBTQ youth homelessness, including the role of society and their situations. Due to the judgment of heterosexual society, many of these teens have been doomed to lives of crime in addition to homelessness. It also gives a perspective on how both, society and the LGBTQ youth themselves, can work on solving their endangerment.
The first part of this movie shows the subjects’ confusion about life and about themselves. Abandoned by their families, they struggle to survive with their label as LGBTQ youth on the street. The pain in the bottom of their hearts makes them angry and desperate to escape. The documentary tracks their emotional changes as they evolve from unchained sprits to grounded young men and women confident in their self-image.
The second part of the film is how social workers provide a ray of hope in the lives of these young people, reaching out to them through such organizations as the Homeless Youth Resource Center. With the help of people who care about and understand the hardships of being different, they start to live new lives with the hope of being happy again. It is heartbreaking to watch as the staff tries their best to gain the trust of these young people and make them believe who they truly are is beautiful.
Outside has a happy ending. Some of the teens return to their loving families, go back to school or find a job so that they can make a living. At least, every one of them seems happy and on their way to a promising future, filled with a home, loved ones, a good night sleep and sweet dreams.