Homelessness and Trafficking in the LGBTQ Community: An Illustrative Exhibition

According to the Williams Institute, 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. Largely due to family rejection, youth are pushed or forced into the streets where discrimination, social stigma, and mental strains become even more evident. Homeless shelters for the LGBTQ population are slim (although, here are some pretty great organizations) and more importantly, the respect within homeless shelters can be difficult and nonexistent. Abuse, violence, and exploitation are heightened for LGBTQ persons when thrown into the streets.

"Far From Home", Illustration on traffic tickets, 16" x 20"
“Far From Home”, Illustration on traffic tickets, 16″ x 20″

Chicago born artist, Sam Kirk, is speaking for underrepresented LGBTQ youth in her new exhibition, Surviving the Times. The exhibition will feature moments of hope, loss, and truth when surviving on the streets. In addition to the topic of homelessness within the LGBTQ community, the issue of sex trafficking, and the circumstances which homeless youth find themselves in, is another theme which weaves itself through Kirk’s body of work.

Kirk’s artistic and creative mission is to give back to her community, through a celebration of culture and community, while also honing in on the people who thrive in these environments.

"Heavy are the clouds that brew the dreams that keep my head high", Illustration on traffic tickets, 18" x 24"
“Heavy are the clouds that brew the dreams that keep my head high”, Illustration on traffic tickets, 18″ x 24″

Her pieces and detailed works include collage and illustration. Landscape, culture, and current events make up Kirk’s colorful and impactful body of work.

The exhibition will be located at The Center on Halsted, a safe space for LGBTQ people in Chicago and in the Midwest. Located in Lakeview, the center provides programming, HIV testing, cooking classes, and collaborative events with organizations and groups across the nation. Kirk’s exhibition will continue with the center’s involvement with the LGBTQ community. 20% of her profits from exhibition sales will be donated to help the center.

The exhibition will run from January 7th until February 2th. An opening reception will be held on January 8th from 6-9pm; free and open to the public. The Center on Halsted is located at 3656 N. Halsted St.


Nicole Lane
Nicole Lane