Krispy Kreme is a shrine in Atlanta. On Ponce, you’ll find trendy thrift stores, frugal business owners, the antiques of rich Atlanta gay men, soul food like Mary Mac’s that will bless your heart, and many street youth. A lot of them are transgender. They hustle their bodies for a warm bed, or a quick fix. Sometimes they sell themselves just to feel loved.
Lots of people pop into Krispy Kreme while the “Hot” sign burns fiery red. People from East Cobb, Douglas, Midtown, Grant Park, and lots of street people. The environment offers a bit of a safe space from the Atlanta streets. Sure, you can find the police parked on the stools near the window facing Ponce, but they aren’t battering folks or bashing them. They are enjoying the sweet greasy confection, a type of Eucharist offered at the Altar to everyone. Krispy Kreme is an open table. They serve communion to all- all who have the money to pay.
I dropped Terry off at Ga State University, and meandered my way through Old Fourth Ward in search of something. I like to pray and drive (don’t get scared, ya’ll). I drove by Ebeneezer Baptist Church, and thought about Dr. King. I stopped at the red light and looked at the moms busy shuffling their toddlers. The desire for a little communion via a doughnut and coffee entered into my heart. I made my way over to Ponce.
I could see her as soon as the “Hot” donut sign appeared. She wore the red dress, two sizes too small. Her tuck job had lost its confinement and poked out just a bit. Her jaw oscillated from the crack she probably had smoked before the sun beckoned ATL “goodmorning.” My heart sagged, heavy with empathy. She may have felt rejected by her home. Her church. Her community. Her parents. I didn’t know her story. Except she looked young. She could be in college. She could be in technical school, or art school. I wondered what she had been through the night before. She panhandled outside the door. Looking for change. Looking for a cigarette. Looking for love.
I wanted her to know that the God Christians talk about loved her.
I didn’t want to save her soul. I wanted to meet her need. I wanted her to know she had a future ahead of her. I wanted her to know that whatever abuse, victimization, hurt, bad decisions, and remorse she experienced that Tomorrow would be a new day.
I decided to skip talking about Jesus, and act like Jesus.
I’m sure she heard enough about religion from the strange white bearded street preachers who made the weekly trip to the corners with their signs and megaphones to tell people about the 10 commandments, instead of the sermon on the mount.
I drove up to the speaker and ordered an extra coffee and donut, and then pulled up beside her. I asked her if she was staying in a shelter. She told me she didn’t have anywhere to go. I offered her a referral to Lost N Found, or Salvation Army. We really only have 12 beds in all of Atlanta for trans women. Six of those beds are for youth- 18-26- and not specifically for trans persons, but for people who are LGBTQ.
I’m not sure how many of Atlanta’s homeless are trans. But it has to be a large number. Many hang out at the task force or Peachtree and Pine as its called.
Next weekend we will celebrate Pride here in Atlanta.
And street youth who are LGBT will continue to grow. We will talk about homeless LGBT persons in a passing lament, before downing our fruity drinks, donning our rainbow gear, and singing along with Cher or The Indigo girls.
Yet, I hope more Atlantans, Christians, and LGBT people begin to think about all the street youth forced into prostitution, rejected by their families, and hooked on drugs. These youth are raped, beaten, and subjected to all kinds of bullying and violence.
For a moment at Krispy Kreme, we shared communion. We shared a second of common humanity. I hope she follows up with United Way, or calls Stan or Art over at Lost N Found. I hope she gets off the streets.
And I hope while we are celebrating Pride in Atlanta we think about homeless youth.
I pray we just don’t think about it, or talk about it, but we start to do something about it.
For more info: http://www.endhomelessness.org/pages/lgbtq-youth