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Benefit aids Ruth Ellis Center, homeless LGBT youth

By |2011-09-08T09:00:00-04:00September 8th, 2011|News|

By Tara Cavanaugh

At a Sept. 22 benefit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit, youth from a local shelter will get a chance to share their poetry, experiences and accomplishments – all captured in their very own poetry anthology titled “Voices.”
The youth participated in a poetry program at the Ruth Ellis Center, one of the only three shelters for homeless LGBT youth in the country.
“We believe in the power of creative expression, and what can come from young people,” said Laura Hughes, executive director of the center. “We’ve seen young people who are so, so talented, and have a lot of trauma in their life, and are wise beyond their years with the things they’ve experienced.”
The center partnered with Inside Out Detroit, a literary project that puts poetry into communities. Inside Out sent poets to Ruth Ellis to work with youth on their creative writing.
The youth also were able to work with David Blair, an accomplished poet and folk artist from Detroit. Blair, who won a national Poetry Slam championship, passed away this summer. He was only 43.
“We as a staff grieved, we as a community grieved, and our young people came and shared their writing they had done with Blair and the inspiration he had had on their lives,” Hughes said.
“What is so powerful about their writing, and spoken word, is that they share with folks in a way that folks aren’t able to respond immediately – it calls for the audience to reflect on what they’re sharing with you,” Hughes said. “I think for adults, it can be easy for us to jump in, to say it’ll get better, or we’ll fix it.
“If we spent more time allowing spaces for young people to share with us, and teach us what they’re experiencing, and teach us what the solutions are, I think that’s the real power.”
The anthology also incorporates youth art and pictures of a mural they helped make on the center’s Highland Park structure.
Four students will share their poetry at the benefit. The event will also feature the first-ever Ruth’s Angel Award, which will be given to someone who demonstrates dedication to the LGBT community.
The benefit takes place Thursday, Sept. 22 starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call 313-252-1950.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.