The Bea Arthur Residence, which will serve as a shelter for homeless LGBTQ youth, is scheduled to open in February, 2017. In addition to providing a safe harbor, the shelter will offer on-site counseling services and referrals to other resources.
As reported by Edge Media Network, the Bea Arthur Residence was founded by the Ali Forney Center and was funded, in part, with a generous donation by the late actress.
Like many LGBTQ youths, the organization’s namesake was rejected by his family and became homeless at the age of 13. Although he was eventually placed in foster care, the transgender teen ran away after he was physically abused.
Despite the fact that he had few resources, Ali Forney dedicated his life to raising awareness about homeless LGBTQ youth in New York City. He also became a strong advocate for safety within the homeless LGBTQ community.
— Family Equality (@family_equality) August 29, 2016
Unfortunately, the young man was shot and killed on the streets of Harlem on December 5, 1997, at the age of 22. However, his name and his dedication to serving LGBTQ adolescents and teens will live on through the Ali Forney Center.
In 2002, Carl Siciliano founded the Ali Forney Center to honor his late friend’s memory and to provide necessary services to New York City’s homeless LGBTQ youth.
According to the organization’s website, the center’s “mission is to protect LGBT youths from the harms of homelessness and empower them with the tools needed to live independently.”
Initially, the center was limited to the basement of a local church. However, it has expanded to become one of the nation’s largest organizations serving homeless LGBTQ adolescents and teens.
With a total of 10 shelters and “a multi-purpose Drop-In Center,” the Ali Forney organization serves an estimated 400 homeless LGBTQ adolescents and teens each year. With the addition of the Bea Arthur Residence, the organization will be able to house 18 more homeless adolescents and teens and will have an opportunity to serve even more LGBTQ youths.
A strong supporter of the LGBTQ community, Bea Arthur performed at a benefit for the Ali Forney Center in 2005 and bequeathed the organization $300,000 in 2009. In honor of her generosity, the new shelter will bear the late actress’ name.
A native of New York City, Bea Arthur was discovered in 1954 while appearing in the off-Broadway musical comedy The Threepenny Opera. Although she had a successful stage career, winning a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical in 1966, Arthur got her big break with the lead role in the All in the Family spin-off series, Maude.
As reported by Biography, the role secured Bea Arthur’s reputation as a strong and outspoken woman with a sharp sense of humor. Interestingly, the character she played in Maude echoed the actress’ dedication to civil and human rights.
Seven years after the cancellation of Maude, Bea Arthur was cast alongside Betty White, Estelle Getty, and Rue McClanahan in the hit sitcom The Golden Girls.
Throughout her career, Arthur was honored with two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, An American Comedy Award, a Golden Apple Award, two Online Film & Television Awards, and a TV Land Award. She was also nominated for nine Golden Globes.
Although she is best known for her roles on Maude and The Golden Girls, Bea Arthur was also a strong supporter of civil and human rights organizations.
In the early 2000s, the actress became aware of the sheer number of homeless LGBTQ adolescents and teens in New York City, and the fact that many were homeless because they were rejected by their families.
— PAPER Magazine (@papermagazine) August 29, 2016
As reported by Romper, Bea Arthur “made it her personal mission to remedy this travesty.” In 2005, the actress began performing a one-woman show to benefit the Ali Forney Center. She ultimately raised $40,000 for the organization. Four years later, following Arthur’s death, the center received a $300,000 donation from the actress’ estate.
The Bea Arthur Residence is currently under construction and is expected to open for service in February, 2017.
[Photo by AP Photo/Mary Altaffer]