Barry University’s Center for Human Rights and Social Justice is working to spread a message of love and support in the aftermath of last year’s massacre at Pulse. The center has the launched the Spread Love Not Hate Campaign, an initiative designed to raise awareness about and support for LGBT youth who are homeless or have unstable housing in South Florida.
The community is being asked to donate ready-to-eat “street snacks” for LGBT youth living on the streets. Items in need include non-perishable items (shelf life at least 6 months) such as canned goods, dry pastas/rice, instant noodles, instant mac-n-cheese, instant potatoes, chips, crackers, cookies, PB&J, trail mix, etc. Items can be dropped off at Powers Hall, room 126, on Barry’s campus in Miami Shores.
“We were thinking about this horrible tragedy and the idea that this tragedy was born out of hate,” said Ashley Austin, Director, Center for Human Rights and Social Justice, Ellen Whiteside McDonald School of Social Work at Barry University. “This tragedy marked really extreme and egregious violence towards LGBT people, but certainly not an isolated experience for LGBT people. LGBT people, especially young LGBT people, are faced with all kinds of hate, stigma and violence, often in their own homes and in their schools. We know LGBT youth are going hungry and aren’t safe in their schools and restrooms. When we decided how to approach this, we wanted to highlight our amazing community partner Pridelines.”
Pridelines is Miami's LGBTQ Community Center and South Florida's oldest LGBTQ direct service agency. It provides health services for people living with HIV/AIDS, youth programs and services including psychosocial groups, drop-in services, and services for youth experiencing homelessness.
“As we reflect on Pulse this year, we must remember that not all hate crimes are as visible as Pulse was,” said Landon (LJ) Woolston, Homeless Youth Programs and Services Manager at Pridelines. “The crisis of LGBTQ youth homelessness is an ongoing national tragedy, one that is also firmly rooted in anti-LGBTQ sentiment. Pridelines is grateful that Barry University’s ‘Spread Love Not Hate’ campaign has given us the opportunity to not only educate Barry students on the topic of LGBTQ youth homelessness, but also to inspire students to take action by contributing to a donation drive to benefit local LGBTQ youth. Sadly, we cannot bring back the beautiful people we lost in the Pulse nightclub shooting, but we can #HonorThemWithAction. While it is our sincere hope that Barry students will take part in the effort to effect change through the ‘Spread Love Not Hate’ campaign, we also hope that they will become personally invested in creating safer and more inclusive communities as they leave Barry and venture into their careers.”
Barry’s Office of Student Services is handing out yellow ribbons to be worn as show of support for our LGBTQ community. Additionally, the community is also being asked to write notes of support, affirmations and hope that will be delivered to LGBTQ youth in our community to remind them that they are important, loved and not alone.
“We want the student body to think about the needs of LGBT young people,” Austin said. “We want them to know they matter.”
The notes will be placed in the bags along with food and other items and given to Pridelines.
The campaign runs through June 12. On that day, Barry University will also host a remembrance for the victims and survivors of the Pulse shooting. It will be held from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. and will be an interactive experience using poetry, reflections and providing a way to give voice to their collective pain.