|Born||April 12, 1975
Charlotte, North Carolina
|Died||December 5, 1997
Harlem, New York
|Known for||Transgender advocacy|
Ali He’shun Forney (April 12, 1975 – December 5, 1997) was an African-American gay and transgender youth who also used the name Luscious. He was a peer counselor of and advocate for homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth and was killed on the street in Harlem. The Ali Forney Center for homeless LGBT youth was named after him when it opened in June 2002.
Forney was born in Charlotte, North Carolina and raised in Brooklyn, New York by a single mother. He said that he first became a prostitute at 13, and that the $40 made him feel rich "like Donald Trump." Rejected by his family, at 13 he was put in a group home, from which he soon ran away. He was in a series of foster placements, but found the streets preferable. He continued to work as a prostitute, often in women's clothing. He admitted to using crack cocaine "because it eased the degradation and fear of selling himself." He was arrested and jailed many times.
When he was 17, he joined the Safe Horizon Streetwork program, where counselors helped him acquire a Social Security card and a medical card. He completed his GED and, at the time of his death, had started to work with the staff to help other homeless youth. When he turned 18, he received a settlement for a childhood car accident, but he remained estranged from his family and was ineligible for city youth shelters after his 19th birthday. Proudly HIV-negative, he became good at peer counseling and promoted safety, carrying a pocketful of condoms and offering them to drug dealers. He said, "I became a peer educator because I see so many HIV-infected people on the stroll. Even now, there are people who don't know how to use condoms." In 1996 he was invited to San Francisco to tell social workers about the needs of homeless transgender youth.
At 4 am on December 5, 1997, he was found by the police shot on the sidewalk in front of a housing project on East 131st Street. According to the New York Times he was the third young transgender prostitute murdered in Harlem in 14 months. The killing has never been solved.
Ali Forney Center
When Carl Siciliano started a center for homeless LGBT youth in New York in 2002, he named it the Ali Forney Center in his memory. The Ali Forney Center, also known by its acronym AFC, opened in June 2002. It serves mostly Manhattan and Brooklyn youth aged 16 to 24 years, providing them with safe shelter and other help in addition to counseling for their families where needed.
The "Ali Forney Day Center" is the entry point to the homeless youth program, offering street outreach, case management, primary medical care, HIV testing, mental health assessment and treatment, food and showers, an employment assistance program, and referral to our housing programs. The "AFC Emergency Housing Program" offers a scattered-site emergency housing program with sites in Manhattan and Brooklyn. AFC offers temporary housing in safe, staff-supervised homelike apartments. Youths are able to reside for up to six months while they are assisted in moving to more permanent housing. AFC has 4 emergency housing apartments and a total of 49 beds. The "AFC Transitional Housing" program, on the other hand, offers housing to 40 more youths in 6 scattered sites in Brooklyn and Manhattan, where residents may stay for up to two years while they are assisted in maintaining employment and in continuing their education so that they can then move on to apartments of their own. AFC provides a total of 89 beds.
In popular culture
- In September 2007, The Advocate magazine featured the Ali Forney Center.
- Bea Arthur, star of the American TV series The Golden Girls and Maude, left $300,000 to AFC in her will to help gay homeless youths.
- A charity single, a remake of "That's What Friends Are For" was released by the musicians known as "The Friends Project" in support of the Ali Forney Center. It featured Alan Cumming, David Raleigh, Billy Porter and Ari Gold. The song was arranged and produced by Australian singer Nathan Leigh Jones and was directed by Michael Akers.
- Nicholas Ray, et al. "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth: An Epidemic of Homelessness," National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute, National Coalition for the Homeless, 2006, (pdf) via the New York Times, p. 8, note 33: Forney self-identified as male when using his given name, female when using Luscious.
- Ray, p. 9.
- Tina Rosenberg, "Helping Them Make It Through the Night," Editorial Observer, New York Times, July 12, 1998, New York edition section 4, p. 16.
- Chelsea J. Carter, Associated Press, "In Memoriam: A Youth’s Troubled Life, Tragic Death - Society: Thousands of New York’s homeless teens live with violence and despair. Ali Forney was one of them," Los Angeles Times, September 5, 1999, p. A1; also "A Life and Death on New York City Streets," the Ali Forney Center.
- "About Ali Forney". The Ali Forney Center. Archived from the original on 3 November 2009. Retrieved 27 November 2009.