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Just a few weeks after a very public squabble between YouthPride and LGBT activists over the plight of homeless youth, the non-profit is sounding alarms that its troubled finances could force the agency to close in the coming months.

The dire situation painted by Terence McPhaul, YouthPride’s executive director, in an interview with the GA Voice is a stark departure from a “Happy Thanksgiving” email sent by the group two weeks ago that didn’t hint at any financial difficulties. It’s also similar to the troubled times YouthPride experienced in December 2009 when it furloughed three staffers and later fired one of its two executive directors.

imageMcPhaul (top photo left, bottom photo) says Youthpride needs tens of thousand of dollars “or we may be forced to close our doors.” He wishes for $50,000, but wouldn’t tell the GA Voice exactly how much is needed to stabilize the agency or what, if any, plans are in the works to keep YouthPride open.

YouthPride says on its website that it pays $50,000 a year to rent its expansive facility on Edgewood Avenue in Inman Park. Also on its site, the agency lists the “donation of a 7,000 to 20,000 sq. ft. building” as the top item in a 10-piece “Wish List.” The wide-ranging list also includes “financial gifts of $1 to $1,000,000 (and beyond)” and “celebrities to support LGBTQQ youth programs, as much as the LGBTQQ youth support them.”

The group says it provides counseling and suicide prevention services to 300 youth each year and receives 5,800 visits per year. The agency is open is six days a week and staffs a helpline.

But McPhaul and YouthPride came under fire during a public forum in early November. LGBT activist Rick Westbrook criticized the agency for not addressing homeless LGBT youth.

Westbrook’s statements about homeless gay youth prompted an exchange with McPhaul:

“Please come to Wednesday’s meeting. These kids are out there now freezing and starving,” Westbrook said.

“We know that they are out there and we know what they need,” McPhaul responded.

“I know you do, but you don’t get them off the street,” Westbrook retorted.

“We don’t want to set them up in a bathhouse to get housing for the night. We want them to be somewhere safe,” McPhaul shot back.

Since then, Westbrook and the Atlanta Sisters have launched Saint Lost and Found, an emergency shelter for gay youth.

YouthPride benefits from several charity events during the year, including the Toy Party last Sunday, the celebrity-attracting Evolve! in June and the “Intergalactic Love Affair” from the Atlanta Sisters and Atlanta Radical Faeries in February.

Bottom photo by Sher Pruitt