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AJ, left, 23, and his boyfriend Alex, 21, share a kiss in a West Hollywood park where they sometimes sleep at night.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Christina House / For The Times

Alex and AJ, right, relax in a park one night. They nap here until the park closes, then move into the bushes, where they won't be seen while they sleep.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Christina House / For The Times

Alex, left, and AJ lean against each other as an older couple passes by in a West Hollywood park. It is a favorite spot; the restrooms are open late, and there are friendly neighbors who stop to chat while walking their dogs.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Christina House / For The Times

AJ smokes a cigarette in the shadows of a tree at a park. "If I could be invisible, I would," he said. "I feel ashamed to admit that I'm homeless."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Christina House / For The Times

AJ, right, rests his eyes as he lies next to Alex. He said the scratches on his face are from a drunken night when he was struck by a car.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Christina House / For The Times

AJ, left, and Alex hold hands while looking for a shelter operated by a mental health center. Alex had wanted AJ to take the only available bed. But AJ dismissed the suggestion, saying the more reticent Alex would not cope alone on the streets. "If you love somebody, you take care of them, right?" says AJ on a later date. "It would've hurt really bad to see Alex on the street and me inside."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Christina House / For The Times

AJ takes a cigarette break on the sidewalk with his stolen goods: a roasted chicken, a bottle of vodka and a bag of candy for his boyfriend Alex.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Christina House / For The Times

AJ and his friend Ricky, 21, right, try to bum cigarettes off a vendor in Hollywood.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Christina House / For The Times

AJ checks out the scratches on his face in his boyfriend's mirror in Hollywood.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Christina House / For The Times

Alex, right, tries to lift AJ, who had fallen over drunk in Hollywood. Their belongings wait in a shopping cart.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Christina House / For The Times

AJ and Alex chat across the street from the shelter.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Christina House / For The Times

On another night, Alex, left, and AJ found cots at New Image, a Los Angeles homeless shelter.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Christina House / For The Times

Alex and AJ kiss goodnight outside the shelter.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Christina House / For The Times

A lonely and distraught AJ bursts into tears after breaking his bottle of vodka. "What do I have to live for?" he asked.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Christina House / For The Times

AJ searches for a lighter in his toiletries bag. He moved under a bridge to be closer to Alex, who is staying in a nearby shelter.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Christina House / For The Times

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Homeless gay youths on the streets of Los Angeles County are largely a hidden population.

Part of how they survive is by blending in. Police officers are quick to issue tickets, and the streets are full of predators.

In recent weeks, Times reporter Alexandra Zavis and photographer Christina House spent time with several gay homeless men in their early 20s. They agreed to speak openly about their lives, including illegal drug use and other criminal activity, on the condition that their full names not be used.

Photographs of two such subjects, AJ and his boyfriend Alex, as they struggle on the streets can be seen in the gallery above. Read Zavis’ full story, “Gay and homeless: In plain sight, a largely hidden population” and the story behind the story.


  1. December 11, 2010, 7:20 am

    terrible. nobody should be homeless. food and shelter are basic human rights. maybe Lady Ga Ga with all of her millions of dollars can help. or does she only care about the gays that are rich and powerful or middle class.
    there are lots of us that are living in rejection from our own community. Lady Ga Ga needs to wake her rotten self centered butt up and realize this whole thing is not just about talk and stroking the LGBT, it's about action like helping the gays that need the help the most and not just the priviledged few. this is what i've been talking about to so many. you know what. Lady Ga Ga can stick it. she doesn't know what's going down. she's too pampered.

    By: johnstonjames
  2. December 11, 2010, 7:48 am

    i hope you post my comment. this one is making me peeved and i can't let it drop. what is the LGBT doing about this? there is a lot of money to go around. never believe the poor mouthing from the system.
    gay men always say that when a guy is straight and married that "it's such a waste". what about this? this seems like such a waste to let these kids be homeless, on the streets and in danger.
    if the LGBT isn't all talk and walk, they had better get out there and rectify this right now with some relief. and do it fast. i'm getting so impatient with there bogus doddering.

    By: johnstonjames
  3. December 11, 2010, 12:24 pm

    I am unimpressed. The fact that these young men are homosexual does not make their trespassing, loitering, drug use, and larceny any less reprehensible. Many would argue that being homeless makes you a "hidden population" – their homosexuality does not make me look at their homelessness as anything special simply because they are gay. How does this story benefit those who fight homelessness? How does this story help young homosexuals? Does this story provide anything uplifting or insightful or give motivation to anyone? Is the readership any more enlightened? In a city full of hope and promise with wonderful people striving to do their best, to provide for themselves and their families, and with every one of us living with challenges, this story misses the mark. This is the first time I have ever been completely unimpressed with a photojournalism piece.

    By: Ryan
  4. December 11, 2010, 2:06 pm

    How about the article including suggestions on how the readers can help?? Where can we donate clothes, hire them, or somehow assist them or the charities also helping them?
    Also—it says the police are giving them tickets. For what? Is there a reason for that? If you're homeless–how would you be found? Unless they're giving them tickets to shelters, job leads, and food banks…which, of course, is not the case.
    HOW do we help?
    What's the purpose of giving them a ticket??
    I hope condoms and clean needles are being given out!

    By: dEsduceducatorr
  5. December 11, 2010, 6:10 pm

    What can I do to help?

    By: Namaste_Mom8
  6. December 11, 2010, 7:19 pm

    It’s sad that the gay community doesn’t do more to help this area of the community, but are in themselves the ones who take advantage of these youths through prostitution, further exploiting them and making them more depndent on drugs and alcohol. The gay community is amongst the

    richest communities out there and do the least to help out there counter parts, who have no recourse or support.

    By: jesse james
  7. December 11, 2010, 9:08 pm

    It's a real pity that the so call gay "community" doesn't do anything to help these kids. The LAPD need to be trained to offer assistance, rather than issuing useless tickets.

    By: John_TSV
  8. December 11, 2010, 10:43 pm

    When my brother was "homeless", collecting money my worried mother would wire to him every week, and also calling her every other day so she can nag him to come home,
    he had a different sob story about his fictional home life for each passerby on the street, bc they will give you a LOT more money if they think you were abused or kicked out of the house, especially if it's bc you are gay! My brother used the gay kid with druge-addicted mom + rejecting, cold-ass dad scenario a lot because that story got him the most money. I doubt it's any different with "AJ" and "Alex" since they opt not to use their real names.

    By: Guest
  9. December 11, 2010, 11:38 pm

    This is one of the Best stories in a very long Time…
    I've been personally affected by the this recession, but at least I
    have family to help me….These kids have NoOne…
    Had to move out of LA and back to Texas, Have a job Now.

    The best thing they have going to them is their Youth…
    Hopefully, they can clean up, get a job & finish school…. will be a "deadend" for them.

    It is sweet that they are in love…because they are so young.
    it is easy to fall in love…But love alone, can't find you a job/home

  10. December 12, 2010, 12:33 am

    get a job

    you wont be homeless or broke

    By: bobby trendy
  11. December 12, 2010, 6:03 am

    Let me guess how AJ & Alex became homeless: In all probability, they came home from school one day and told their mom or dad that they are gay – or perhaps a parent discovered that their son was looking at internet gay porn, and immediately threw them out of the house!!!! It is an American tragedy that happens every day of the year all across America. Often the parents believe that gays are the worst possible people in the world-beliefs taught every Sunday morning in Catholic/Evangelical Protestant & Mormon churches. These parents are the worst people in the world-willing to throw their children away because they are gay. It is sick, sick, sick!!!!!!!!!

  12. December 12, 2010, 6:55 am

    Time to look at West Hollywood Community Housing Corps rental practices which mandate a 3-year rental history without any periods of homelessness before you will even be considered for an apartment. Elitism at its worst.

  13. December 12, 2010, 7:24 am

    Why is it the the "gay community" that is lambasted for not doing anything to help? Do we blame the "straight community" for the homelessness of straight people? The VA is similarly blamed for the homelessness of veterans. Why do we take one point of identity of a homeless person, and expect a "community" of people with that same identity to take care of it?

    These are homeless humans, living in our society, we all have an equal obligation to help them, regardless of sexuality. gender, race, creed, or anyother claimable identity.

    By: Beth K.
  14. December 12, 2010, 8:45 am

    What cruel comments on this post. All the more reason to refuse to give to the Salvation Army, who will not help LGBT homeless. Not all of use queers are rolling in dough, and there are so many charity organizations that need money, not just for gays who you think aren't shelling out enough, but from the upper class in general. You also assume that LGBT members aren't doing anything, as though throwing a little money at the problem will solve class differences and oppression. A cursory Google search could tell you that there are charities out there. Stop expecting someone else to do the work for you and go out and help. The LA Gay and Lesbian Center- providing healthcare and social services in the area, as well as helping HOMELESS GAY TEENS. They are raising money to help these kids around the holidays RIGHT NOW. Helping those in need in the Helping to fight violence and bullying in schools, aka part of the problem Helping to support gay teens and prevent suicides

    Not to mention all the charities set up to launch LGBT teens into college, the HRC, and to fight AIDS. But if you ignore the social context and just blame LGBT individuals for both the problem (the teens) and solving it (the adults) you ignore the abuses of the parents who have thrown them out of their houses and all the people who have discriminated against them. Give money, but fight oppression in society, too.

    By: Jenny
  15. December 12, 2010, 8:51 am

    While I agree entirely that the LGBTQ population appears to be much more concerned with more palatable issues, such as Don't Ask, Don't Tell and marriage initiatives, than in ending youth homelessness…Why is the burden being placed disproportionately on the LGBTQ population to end this epidemic? Youth homelessness concerns everyone, regardless of status–it's a signal that our systems of support aren't working. That's not a queer problem, that's a problem with society as a whole. And it's a problem that we ALL have to be willing to take on by doing more than donating food and clothing. We need addiction treatments that work, we need health care (INCLUDING behavioral health), we need equal and affordable housing opportunities, we need restorative justice, we need so much more than what is being offered. Kuds to the Center for having drop in hours and specifically addressing this issue that plagues LGBTQ youth, but they're never going to end this injustice if everyone isn't on board.

    By: RRoo
  16. December 12, 2010, 9:25 am

    For those who want to help, please support the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center which operates the drop-in Center mentioned in the story, as well as a 30-bed transitional living program for homeless youth. You can visit: to make a donation – you can also drop off gently used clothes at our Jeff Griffith Youth Center.

  17. December 12, 2010, 11:25 am

    This is just heartbreaking. While these kids clearly have issues and challenges beyond family and societal rejection of their affectional orientation, I think that is the root of their current desperate situation. It cheers me that they do have each other and derive an enormous amount of security and belongingness from that connection. I agree w/ other posters that the article needs to offer more info on how and where concerned readers can help.

    By: Martin
  18. December 12, 2010, 3:05 pm

    I read this photos of young gay homeless couple in Hollywood sadly. I pray for them to fight back and heal themselves while they will get more assistance from West Hollywood LGBT Youth Center before they will change their lives. I realized about massive worst numbers of homeless youth in Los Angeles.

    I remembered about my visitation to West Hollywood during the Pride Event and Parade during Summer 1997. I was a University Student from Washington, DC. I walked, saw the West Hollywood LGBT Youth Center when I passed it.

    Pray to God for healing all homeless youth in Los Angeles.

    By: hisel777
  19. December 12, 2010, 4:17 pm

    If you want to help you can donate to the LGBT center. They oversee the youth drop in center on Santa Monica Blvd.. I have donated cloths to them and $ to the center.

    The rest of you that have made comments as to what the "rich" gay community is doing should first ask yourselves what are you doing. It is easy to cast aspersions upon others, generally without knowing the facts, but we should first look to ourselves, otherwise the comment just becomes stupid. And as for Ryan, you might want to get a heart. It is obvious that you have never been thrown out of your home at a young age and had to survive on the streets. Your lack of empathy is pathetic and sad for you.

    And a Merry Christmas to all.

    By: Maleko
  20. December 13, 2010, 12:35 pm

    So why are these two able-bodied adults not looking for work or getting free vocational training to get a job? This is the question that should have been asked. Being gay and being homeless are two different things. You cannot do anything if you're gay because that is how you were born. However, by working and saving money, you can be not homeless. Drug addiction and alcoholism – which affects both straight and gay – are more likely to be the root causes of their homelessness.

  21. December 13, 2010, 1:24 pm

    if anybody in here has been touched by dis article n would like to partner up n go help our community plz let me know..we dnt need to give them a house n all dat bt maybe a lil bit of our time n a lil bit of food n clothes might make a difference..
    find me in facebook

    By: cherry
  22. December 13, 2010, 1:47 pm

    […] PHOTO GALLERY: On the streets of Hollywood with AJ and Alex […]

  23. December 13, 2010, 4:12 pm


  24. December 13, 2010, 8:36 pm

    Pretty sweet Smartphone in that homeless guy's hand there…:/

    By: Yeah
  25. December 16, 2010, 5:25 pm

    This is so sad. I wish I could reach out and help them! I do not reside in CA but I know this must be a national situation. Please help those who care discover how we can help, no matter where we reside! Thank you.

  26. December 23, 2010, 2:58 pm

    That's so wild. I've been on the street for about eight years now, watching yuppies pass by kinds spare-changing downtown every day. I never thought of us as "hidden from society"; people usually know we're out here, but they don't want to acknowledge it. Obviously, God just put us here to take your pocket change away from you. Seriously, it kind of threw me to see my situation put up as a photojournalism piece. I hadn't thought of it like that.

    Housies, I have to tell you: The SSI (government monthly paychecks for those who are permanently unable to work due to mental or physical disabilities) ripoff is pretty intense. You get tons of unscrupulous people on the street who take advantage of that little handout by pretending to be nuts when they're not; they just have next to no parenting or self-control. Those are the ones who are getting high off the tax money, and they're also the ingrates crowding the soup kitchens and homeless resource centers so genuine cases can't get a look in anymore. May want to take that one up with your government representatives; that loophole is draining your wallet and hurting the homeless way more than it's helping.

    I write online. I make money off it on HubPages; not enough to live on but enough to survive. If you know someone who's homeless, consider telling them. Lots of the more together kids on the street can write, and have life experiences to share. I usually tell them about it. We don't always need handouts, sometimes options will do just fine. And options don't help you if nobody's told you about them.

    Like everywhere else in life, you get high-functioning and low-functioning people out here. People aren't saints, or trash, just because they're homeless. You get all kinds, and unless you're psychic (and some are) you can't distinguish people unless you get to know them. If you have time to help, consider volunteering for a couple of hours at your local homeless resource center, shelter or soup kitchen. Google Maps will happily tell you where they are. If there aren't any near you, check with your local churches and find out what they're doing. Odds are they know of somewhere that serves. It's not grueling, it's just meeting people outside your social group who happen to make even less money than you do. You'll find lots of worthwhile people, and what's more you tend to find the awesome people at places like these because they're the ones who've gone out of their way to volunteer. So if you're complaining that you can't find Mr. or Miss Right, consider that they're not at your local bar; they're down at your shelters and churches being Right without you. Want to meet them? Go there too!

    Essentially, stop by and get to know people. Handouts aren't out of the question, but do get to know whether someone's genuine or just trying to take advantage. Be safe, and don't invite someone back to your place unless they've earned your trust. (Homeless someones or otherwise.) If you want to help, consider keeping a pair of fresh socks, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and a new brush or blanket in your car. When you encounter someone who's on the street, you can give it to them without wondering whether you're supporting a drug habit. Old laptops are gold out here, because they can be used to work online, communicate with loved ones, and even get some recreation in (honestly, for all the cliche's we don't just have all sorts of fun all the day long. How much fun could you have if you were constantly broke, trying to get three meals a day and had no personal space to retreat to?)

    And one of the best ways you can help is to get your local city ordinances that fine and jail homeless repealed. Our city's a tourist town, and the local businesses have passed legislation making sleeping outside overnight a crime. But when you're poor, you have no other option. It ends up being class warfare, and city officials including judges have sworn oaths to protect the poor as well as the rich… they just systematically violate them, usually. So if you housies still giving subsidies to your cities in the form of tax money could stop that machine you're feeding from crushing our fragile lives, that'd be great. =) Most places have vagrancy statutes, and most of the housies subsidizing the enforcement of them don't even know they exist.

    Be well,

    – Satori

  27. May 24, 2011, 12:21 pm

    I'm glad to know that there are still humans in this world with all the emphasis on technology and economics. Our HIGHER BEINGS sees the good work being done and the greater work to be done.
    Reggie Dunbar II
    Atlanta GA

  28. June 18, 2011, 2:46 pm

    This has nothing to do with being gay and everything to do with alcoholism. Wake up!

  29. January 17, 2013, 4:05 pm

    This is just stupid. Seriously get off your butts and do something about it..

    "OMG homeless gay people, they clearly are more deserving of help than "ordinary" homeless adults!"
    The people in these comments are largely disgusting with their favoritism. If they live on the streets and use drugs, refuse to get work, they deserve what they have.

    By: jacob
  30. January 18, 2013, 7:03 am

    Young, gay, and homeless? What's the gay have to do with anything? In my 40 years on this earth, I have never talked to anyone that has any problem with gay people. I don't get it. It seems like they are fighting a fight that isn't there. I live in the mid-west that tends to be looked at as "hick farmers" and they gay people in the city tend to fix up neighborhoods. Bring culture that would otherwise not be there. The arts center is thriving. I know I am stereotyping here but they seem to bring more good to our city than bad. Most of the "slums" here have been bought up my the affluent gay community and have turned into a thriving center for great food, arts, nightlife. I am not gay but if you want to make a million in real0estate buy where the gay community is.

  31. January 18, 2013, 8:55 pm

    These articles make me feel so powerless. I try to give back to my community by donating to gay rights organizations and calling attention to issues such as this on social media platforms, but how much of a difference can one middle class person really make?
    I have once been homeless, running away from an abusive relationship. Fortunately I had good friends in LA then who helped me out, but I know not everyone is so lucky.
    Choosing to be ignorant of background stories and calling them lazy is nothing but cruelty, and I feel sad for these poor clueless, unenlightened souls.
    These kids aren't even that much younger than myself, and I can easily see myself in their shoes. I really hope they get situated somehow very soon.

    By: LBC
  32. May 23, 2013, 5:53 am

    Hey there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this site before but after checking through some of the post I realized it’s new to me.

    Anyways, I’m definitely delighted I found it and I’ll be bookmarking and

    checking back often!

    By: Freeman
  33. July 4, 2014, 9:24 am

    He or she still looks like he’s twenty five. Amazing.

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