Right now, as coronavirus cases in the U.S. reach an all-time high, there is a growing number of Americans for whom sheltering in place is not an option. As more and more homeless shelters are being forced to close amid the ever worsening pandemic, the options for those seeking safe havens are rapidly dwindling, with vulnerable communities hardest hit. According to recent studies, 20% to 45% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+ and are at a nearly two-times greater risk for homelessness than those of the same age who do not identify as LGBTQ+. Those troubling statistics are not lost on Siying Qu and Haoran Li, the designers behind New York–based fashion label Private Policy.
Tomorrow, Qu and Li will launch an initiative called #LoveAli in partnership with the Ali Forney Center, the largest homeless shelter specifically for LGBTQ+ youth in New York City and one of the few to remain open. Typically the center houses and helps to educate around 1,400 young people. Sadly that number is increasing daily due to the spread of the coronavirus.
Private Policy has designed a take on the “I Heart NY” T-shirt, which will be available for $80 on its website and via a Go Fund Me page, with all of the proceeds going to the AFC. Billy Porter, Queer Eye star Tan France, activist Chella Man, and Saturday Night Live’s Bowen Yang have joined the cause and are helping to promote the sale of the #LoveAli shirts.
“We are heartbroken to see our beloved New York City go through this unprecedented time,” said the designers. “We have seen messages from the LGBTQ+ youth who are crying for help. They are heavily impacted by this virus and frightened by the pandemic. Some feel so helpless because they have no welcoming home.” Qu and Li, who earned a finalist spot in last year’s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund competition for their politically and socially conscious designs. The duo point to Porter, France, Man, and Yang as an example of those using their “creativity and community platform to fundraise for the vulnerable youth among us.” As they see it, the #LoveAli campaign is a gesture of solidarity with LGBTQ+ youth across the country at a time when we need it most.
Originally Appeared on Vogue