Atlanta LGBT youth homeless advocate makes Creative Loafing’s ’20 People to Watch in 2015’

Rick Westbrook, the founder and executive director of Lost-N-Found Youth, is being recognized as one of the “20 People to Watch in 2015” by Atlanta’s Creative Loafing newspaper.

Westbrook has made it his life’s mission to bring awareness to the plight of homeless LGBT youth through countless Lost-N-Found fundraiser and events, including his annual vigil in which he sleeps and lives in a truck for 48 hours and counts on the kindness of strangers for food and warmth.

“Living in the South, more than 50 percent of the youth we serve come to us because they’ve been rejected by their families after they came out,” Westbrook tells CL. “We’re often their only refuge and source of support. Atlanta is ground zero for the LGBTQ homeless youth problem in America.”

Lost-N-Found is in the midst of a $1 million capital campaign with the money going toward the renovation of a house in Midtown that will eventually be used as a shelter.

Also making the “20 People to Watch in 2015” list is gay Atlanta choreographer Erik Thurmond.

“In addition to dancing full time for CORE Performance Company in Decatur, Thurmond has performed freelance for many of the city’s choreographers. If you’ve been to any dance shows in the past three years, you’ve likely seen his exquisitely expressive technique and infectious smile. But it’s in choreographing his own works that Thurmond has masterfully blended the diversity of his training and that contagious fascination with what he calls ‘love of play’ or ‘going full pretend-mode,'” the CL story states.

Ben Coleman (left) and Erik Thurmond in 'Meh Meh.' (Photo by Aubrey Longley-Cook)
Ben Coleman (left) and Erik Thurmond in ‘Meh Meh.’ (Photo by Aubrey Longley-Cook)

In June, he transformed a church into a wrestling ring for his show “Meh Meh,” a piece that challenged what it means to be masculine.