This story originally appeared on Stories Behind the Fog, a collection of narratives from homeless individuals, in their own words. This is Queen’s story – she stays in a shelter in the Mission District. You can see more stories here.
Love can sometimes be the worst that could happen to you. Blinded by you heart can lead you into fucked up situations. Much like it did for me, who ended up on the streets, cuz of love. I was going to marry this fellow, my significant other, who ended up being a wife beater. I experienced domestic violence and decided right away, to hit the road. I went from Oakland across the bay to San Francisco, the city of possibilities. I’ve been living on the streets for over eight months.
I used to be an artist, did landscape photography and had my face and voice on TV. I’ve had art shows for my images; it’s my true passion in life, the artistic side. It was my grandma who taught me the importance of art at a young age. She was my artistic mentor who helped me found my niche.
I grew up in New York, raised in a big devoted family with like nine siblings. My grandparents have been a part of my entire childhood, helping my parents with the job of raising an army of kids. Growing up in New York, sure, is a bit different; it’s a place where you have to be strong, smart and tough to survive at a young age. It’s this huge playground of different cultures and customs. Something I’ve always loved about growing up in the Big Apple, how diverse life could be, just around the corner. And I don’t really see it as different cultures, I see us all as one, it’s all my culture and it’s all yours.
So, I could go call my family, instead of being without a home but I’m not doing that, no way. I’m going to get through this shit myself and learn whatever I ‘need’ to learn. I also know how pissed my family would be, on him and over the fact I’m homeless. I’m doing myself and my family a favor by working really hard and doing everything I can to get out of this hole.
I’m no god damn bumming slob walking around looking for the next buzz. I’ve always strived for goodness and want to achieve greatness. I go to church every morning for some breakfast, or to like, charge my phone. I also go to Labor Ready, a place where you get paid the same day as you work. I have a storage where I keep all my stuff, costing my like two hundred bucks each month. So just like the rest of you, I also have responsibilities, even though I lack a home, which Labor Ready helps me keep up. And people steal shit, from the streets and the shelters. Just the other day I saw this lady at this shelter. She had an appointment but apparently took too long so they threw her stuff away, just like that. All her important documents including her birth certificate, now all gone. I helped her look for it in the trash but it wasn’t there, so someone must have stolen it.
Another weird and bizarre aspect of living on the streets is the paradox of how I dress. Since I have my storage of clothes I try to look respectable, shower every day and look good. So people will talk to me, cuz people won’t talk to you if you look like a slob, that’s just how it is. But then I’ve meet these people that say shit like, “I’m not helping you, I don’t believe you’re really homeless, you look too good for that”. Like why the fuck would I lie about being homeless?
That’s something I find tough, the cold and harsh eyes from those people; it makes me not wanting to connect. Something that’s so far away from the real me, I used to love and meet and greet everyone I met; now it’s just hard, so damn hard to keep a straight face.If there is something I’ve learned from all this, the fact we all need to acknowledge more; homelessness comes in all shapes, sizes and walks of life, and you can’t always judge people by their circumstances. I sure never thought I was going to end up homeless on the streets. All I want now is some stability with my own home, so I once again can do what I love: my Art.