In the United States, nearly 4 in 10 American youths experiencing homelessness identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender* and the number has been rising for the past decade.
Marriott International (No. 8 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list), along with "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" actor Tituss Burgess, True Colors Fund, Casa Ruby and social influencers Raymond Braun, Shannon Beveridge and Amber's Closet, are inviting people everywhere to join the global #LoveTravels movement to spread awareness and stand in support of the LGBTQ homeless youth community by raising funds to combat this growing issue.
"Marriott created #LoveTravels four years ago to send a clear message that our company, including more than 6,100 properties in 124 countries and territories has a long-standing commitment to welcoming everyone," said Apoorva Gandhi, Vice President of Multicultural Affairs, Marriott International. "This year, as the #LoveTravels movement grows, we are expanding our commitment to include support for Casa Ruby and True Colors Fund, two organizations dedicated to LGBTQ homeless youth that help ensure safe and reassuring homes and services so they may thrive."
On Thursday, June 8 and Friday, June 9, ahead of Capital Pride in Washington, D.C., an art installation was completed in Freedom Plaza in support of LGBTQ homeless youth. Expressions of unconditional acceptance and love in the form of paintings, doodles, photographs and hand-written notes created in-person and on Twitter and Instagram tagged #LoveTravels and #MyPride were brought to life on the collaborative #LoveTravels Mosaic.
Throughout the two days, scheduled celebrities, influencers and local personalities stopped by to add their own expressions of love. In addition, seven Marriott properties, including Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront; The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City; Renaissance Sao Paulo Hotel; AC Hotel San Juan; Charlotte Marriott City Center; Moxy New Orleans and Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel & Conference Center, held "expression sessions" to invite their guests to create and contribute their own pieces of art to be included in the global #LoveTravels Mosaic.
For every original submission created on site or tagged #LoveTravels and #MyPride on Twitter and Instagram, Marriott will donate to True Colors Fund and Casa Ruby. Working locally, Casa Ruby is the only bilingual multicultural LGBTQ organization providing lifesaving services and safe shelter to many of the most vulnerable transgender residents of Washington D.C. The True Colors Fund is working on a national level to end homelessness among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth, creating a world in which all young people can be their true selves, and recently created the first ever True Innovation Fellowship, underwritten by Marriott. The fellowship will provide a young person the opportunity to participate in the development of technology solutions that address homelessness among LGBTQ youth.
Marriott unveiled the first glimpse of the #LoveTravels Mosaic in 2016 with contributions from Laverne Cox, Jazz Jennings, Ross Mathews and thousands of LGBTQ supporters from over 90 countries around the world. This year, actor/activist Tituss Burgess is joining the movement as official ambassador.
"As an advocate for the LGBTQ community, I am proud to stand with Marriott International in support of the True Colors Fund, Casa Ruby and everyone fighting to keep kids and young adults in need of help safe and warm," said actor Tituss Burgess. "And as a member of the LGBTQ community myself, I am humbled and honored to join in the unveiling of the #LoveTravels Mosaic. It warms my heart to see people from around the world participating in such a powerful expression of love."
Launched in 2014, #LoveTravels brings to life Marriott's longstanding commitment to ensuring every person is valued and welcomed whenever they enter the doors of its hotels. It serves as a platform for sharing diverse perspectives on the importance of travel, including those of Jason Collins, Geena Rocero, Tim Howard Angela Simmons, Diane Guerrero and Diego Boneta.
The cornerstone of Marriott's culture is its 'put people first' philosophy coupled with its belief that everyone deserves a welcome. Just weeks before marriage equality became the law of the land nationwide, #LoveTravels hosted the wedding of George Carrancho and Sean Franklin in Washington, DC's Capital Pride Parade, with TV personality Ross Mathews as officiant. The campaign has also raised donations for recent immigrants at the Open Arms Community Center in South Florida.
Liquitex, creators of the first water-based acrylic paints donated art supplies for the #LoveTravels Mosaic. To learn more or join the conversation, travelers can visit www.Marriott.com/LoveTravels, follow #LoveTravels and @MarriottIntl on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.