Young homeless gay men using sex to gain shelter
Young homeless gay men are selling themselves for sex on the internet to get a bed for the night because of homophobia in hostel accommodation.
The trend has been identified by several homelessness organisations, including the Albert Kennedy Trust, St Mungo's and Stonewall Housing.
Albert Kennedy Trust chief executive Tim Sigsworth, told the Homeless Link conference last week that young homosexual men were going to bars and cafes and surfing gay websites to find people who would give them a room in return for sex.
‘A lot of young people coming to us are using internet cafes and gay bars too often when they are homeless,' he said. ‘Sometimes it will be a one-night stand but end up as 10 nights because it's a bed.'
Mr Sigsworth said young people doing this could end up physically or sexually abused, and ran a greater risk of picking up sexually transmitted diseases.
‘What seems like an easy option can lead to all sorts of things – once you're round someone's place, they set the ground rules.'
Nick Wallbridge, supported housing officer at Stonewall Housing, said communal gay areas were still being used: ‘We have young people coming to us who are homeless who have been thrown out, or left the family home because of their sexuality and they resort to all sorts of things.
‘All too often they resort to going to bars, saunas, or finding people on the internet, to find somewhere to sleep. Sadly, too often.'
Young gay people had often experienced homophobia in hostels from workers and residents, Mr Wallbridge said.
Gayle Jones, chair of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group at St Mungo's, said gay men left homeless because of family breakdowns could suffer low self-esteem.
‘There's a lot of drug and alcohol use in the gay scene. A lot revolves around bars and clubs. If you are young, you have lost your friends and family and feel low about yourself, you will not be bothered about going off with someone who makes you feel better, gives you a bed for the night and shower in the morning.'
Ms Jones said young gay people often imagined there was more homophobia in hostels that there was. They needed as much education and advice as possible to know what options were available to them, she added.