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Ali He'shun Forney (April 12, 1975 – December 5, 1997) was an African-American gay and transgender youth who also used the name Luscious.[1]

Ali Forney
Ali He’shun Forney.jpg
Born Ali He'shun Forney
April 12, 1975
Charlotte, North Carolina, United States
Died December 5, 1997(1997-12-05) (aged 22)
Harlem, New York City, New York, United States
Known for Transgender advocacy

He was a peer counselor of and advocate for homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth and was killed on the street in the Harlem neighborhood of the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York. The Ali Forney Center for homeless LGBT youth, located in New York City, was named after him when it opened in June 2002.



Forney was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, and raised in Brooklyn, New York, by a single mother. He said that he first became a prostitute at 13, and that the $40 made him feel rich. Rejected by his family, at 13 he was put in a group home, from which he soon ran away. He was in a series of foster placements, but found the streets preferable.[2] He continued to work as a prostitute, often in women's clothing.[3] He admitted to using crack cocaine "because it eased the degradation and fear of selling himself."[4][5] . He was said to be the late boyfriend of James Perry, of Jersey City, New Jersey.

When he was 17, he joined the Safe Horizon Streetwork program, where counselors helped him acquire a Social Security card and a medical card. He completed his GED[4] and, at the time of his death, had started to work with the staff to help other homeless youth.[2] When he turned 18, he received a settlement for a childhood car accident, but he remained estranged from his family and was ineligible for city youth shelters after his 19th birthday.[4]

Proudly HIV-negative, he became good at peer counseling and promoted safety, carrying a pocketful of condoms and offering them to drug dealers.[4] He said, "I became a peer educator because I see so many HIV-infected people on the stroll. Even now, there are people who don't know how to use condoms."[2] In 1996, he was invited to San Francisco, California, to tell social workers about the needs of homeless transgender youth.[4]

At 4 a.m. on December 5, 1997, he was found by the police shot on the sidewalk in front of a housing project on East 131st Street in Harlem.[4] According to The New York Times he was the third young transgender prostitute murdered in Harlem in fourteen months.[3] The killing has never been solved.[6]

Over seventy people attended Forney's memorial service.[3][4]

Ali Forney CenterEdit

When Carl Siciliano started a center for homeless LGBT youth in New York in 2002, he named it the Ali Forney Center (also known as AFC) in his memory.[7] The center opened in June 2002. It serves mostly Manhattan and Brooklyn youth aged 16 to 24 years, providing them with safe shelter and other help in addition to counseling for their families where needed.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Ray, Nicholas; et al (2006). Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth: An Epidemic of Homelessness. National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute, National Coalition for the Homeless (via The New York Times). p. 8, note 33: Forney self-identified as male when using his given name, female when using Luscious.
  2. ^ a b c Ray, p. 9.
  3. ^ a b c Rosenberg, Tina (July 12, 1998). "Helping Them Make It Through the Night". Editorial Observer in The New York Times. New York edition, section 4, p. 16.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g [dead link] Carter, Chelsea J. (September 5 1999). "In Memoriam: A Youth's Troubled Life, Tragic Death – Society: Thousands of New York's homeless teens live with violence and despair. Ali Forney was one of them". Associated Press (via the Los Angeles Times). p. A1.
  5. ^ [dead link] "A Life and Death on New York City Streets" the Ali Forney Center". Ali Forney Center.
  6. ^ Parascandola, Rocco (April 6, 2016). "NYPD takes fresh look at '90s transgender murders in Harlem". Daily News NY. Retrieved April 20, 2017. 
  7. ^ "About Ali Forney". The Ali Forney Center. Archived from the original on November 3, 2009. Retrieved November 27, 2009.