LGBT Youth Find Safe Haven With Each Other at Brooklyn Center

Our Pride Week coverage continues with a look at some of the young members of the LGBT community as they struggle to cope with their own sexuality and being targeted by hate groups. Brooklyn reporter Jeanine Ramirez has the story.

The Orlando shooting has prompted all sorts of reactions, including among LGBT youth.

“Fear, because you have things happening like the incident in Orlando," Christina Rainey said. "Now you have kids thinking that they can't come out, that they have to pretend to be something that they're not just so they can fit in and not be harassed by people they don't know."

Rainey says she finds her safe place at the Brooklyn Community Pride Center, where there's a youth program called Hangout Haven.

"Since we're a bunch of queer kids, we can't hang out at the library. We don't go out just to like sit in a park or whatever," Rainey said. "We decide to come here. It's relaxing. It's very calm."

Patrick Craig runs a weekly discussion group for kids to talk about everything from LGBT issues to current events.

"Sometimes you need a space where you can speak freely and speak about issues that are important to you, and those are maybe different from our straight counterparts," said Craig.

Officials for the center, which opened in 2009, say its youth pride program is the only one of its kind in the borough.

It provides young people from ages 12 to 24 with a supportive environment and all sorts of services.

"Going out in public can be a scary thing, even in New York. And we've seen an increase in violence. We're just coming off of that horrific incident in Orlando that killed 49 of our own,” said Floyd Rumohr, the executive director of the center.

“We do have a social worker on part-time staff here, who was made available to meet with folks who are struggling or need to process the event," Rumohr said.

While June is supposed to celebratory for the LGBT community, kids at Hangout Haven say it's now been framed by the Orlando massacre.

But with the support of each other and the center, they hope to overcome their fear and move the LGBT movement forward.

"No matter what we do, we have to be trapped in a closet continuously to make everyone else feel OK, and I feel like that's not OK," Rainey said.

An ongoing struggle which resonates among all age groups.

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