A Response: Uncle Ace’s House

Corinne & A response(below) Photography by Jessica Dimmock Words by Elizabeth Pollard

In the December 2012 issue of The New Yorker, Rachel Aviv wrote an essay about teenage homelessness in New York. She followed and interviewed Samantha and Ryan about their journey, experiences and the culture of the underground society.

Samantha recalls leaving home after being molested by a family friend when she was younger. Her mother’s denial about the situation left Samantha feeling lonely and afraid. After having trouble coming to terms with her own sexuality, she felt her only escape her current reality was to go to Manhattan, despite never having visited before. Once immersed in the homeless society, Samantha discovered that the majority of kids were “kicked out because they were gay”, transgender or had graduated from the world of foster care without support or much of an education.

The article is an incredible perspective of strength, control and humility. This group of teens have built a social structure which includes families, hierarchy and law all designed to support each other and the life that they are trying to make for themselves. Inevitably, the dark side of their life is not enviable, but from nothing, the sense of community and relationships they have built is quite profound.

However, what shocked and disgusted me the most was when this piece was written. The anti-LGBT attitude it describes lead me to assume that these kids lived in the 80’s where acceptance and education for homosexulaity was still extremely poor. But in fact, Aviv cite’s events from 2009 – September 2011, in what you would assume is a more ‘sophisticated’ North America. The story of these kids trying to survive on the dangerous streets of New York was emotional enough to read, but the thought that they were there, in part, due to the persecution of their sexuality, and many by their own parents, is an shameful light on how ignorant our society still is.

Uncle Ace’s House:
“There are thousands of homeless youths in New York. Many ran away from foster care, while others were rejected by their families. On rainy nights, some slept on the A, C, E which has the city’s longest route. They call it Uncle Ace’s house.”
Netherland by Rachel Aviv for The New Yorker, December 2012

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Jessica Dimmock

Jessica Dimmock

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