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DENNIS ANYONE? with Dennis Hensley

Welcome to Dennis Anyone, a podcast about making things up and making things happen. I love to talk to creative types about what they do and how they do it. Hope you enjoy my conversations as much as I do. - Dennis H.

May 23, 2024

Dennis is joined via Zoom by author Carl Siciliano to discuss his new book Making Room: Three Decades of Fighting for Beds, Belonging and a Safe Space for LGBT Youth, which documents his founding of the Ali Forney Center in New York City in 2002 as well his many years at the Times Square youth center Safe Space before that. It was at Safe Space in 1994 that Carl met Ali Forney, a non-binary black young person who had been living on the street since they were 12. The pair developed a unique bond and when Ali was senselessly murdered by a gun shot to the temple, one of the ways Carl dealt with his grief is to start a new youth center specifically for queer youth and to name it after Ali. Carl talks about the capacity for love and unshakeable faith in God that made Ali so unique and recalls how he used Ali's memorial to get more media attention to the plight of the citiy's homeless queer youth. Other topics include: the day Tyra Banks showed up to walk the runway with Ali, dealing with unsympathetic and bullying politicians like Mayor Bloomberg and Mayor Cuomo, a moment of grace he experienced on a train back from Coney Island with several of his kids, how he ended up with a parrot that says "Sit your butt down" and his complicated journey with Catholicism. He also shares a story about Bea Arthur from The Golden Girls that's guaranteed to make you love her more than you already do.