OGDEN -- Cai Noble is happy with her life, but it hasn't always been that way. Noble is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She's also gay.
When she revealed her sexuality to her adoptive family, they were kind and loving toward her. However, there was also increased stress in the home, so she decided to move out. That's when she became homeless. "When I came out, we didn't have any adequate resources to help us to get through the issue as a family," Noble said. "My family didn't kick me out of the house, but it was causing some distress, so I decided to leave. I was 17 years old, and I didn't know what I was getting myself into by becoming homeless."
Noble said being homeless was a traumatizing experience and something she is trying to prevent from happening to other youths.
"Education and acceptance is what helped me, and I see that's how I'm helping others," she said.
"I am no longer homeless. I have my own home. I love my life. I'm the founding director of a national organization. I have an amazing life, and I want to help other families, our communities and especially our youth."
On Tuesday evening, OUTreach Resource Center of Ogden held a community forum to provide information and foster discussion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender homeless youths in Utah and to launch Safe and Sound, a host-home project for homeless LGBT youths, launched by OUTreach and Mormons Building Bridges.
"It's estimated that 42 percent of homeless young people in Utah are LGBT," said Berta Marquez, co-founder of Safe and Sound. "Of those 42 percent, 60 percent of those kids come from LDS families. They can be as young as 11 years old, but the average is between 14 and 19."
Marquez said the goal of Safe and Sound is to place these kids into loving LDS "host" homes.
"I think there's a misinterpretation of the gospel in some people that being gay is an abomination," she said. "There's a lot of fear and lack of understanding. My primary goal is to try and help LDS parents see that they don't have to choose between their faith and their child."
In December, the church released a statement asking its members to be more compassionate toward the LGBT community.
Noble said this has been encouraging.
"The church is doing a great job right now. They are really taking great steps in the right direction, and I think that will continue.
"My family loves me a lot. They just feared that this was affecting my eternal life. That's scary if you're a parent," Noble said.
"But we need to learn to support each other, even if we don't agree. I think if we had known about the resources available, we could have better understood and I wouldn't have ended up homeless."
Marian Edmonds, co-founder of Safe and Sound, said the problem of young people living on the streets of Utah is simply intolerable.
"We salute our friends from the community, especially those from Mormons Building Bridges, who wish to reach out in love and help," she said.
"We are excited to launch the Safe and Sound Host Home program to help bring families back together and to match 'throwaway' LGBT Mormon youth with welcoming Mormon families to give them shelter, kindness and help."
Anyone interested in helping may call OUTreach at 801-686-4528. Besides host homes, volunteers and donations are also needed.