When Brendon Lynch visited the Los Angeles LGBT Center in November 2016, he got his first glimpse into the lives of homeless LGBTQ youth.
"I thought I knew a lot, and as a gay man — I thought I knew it all, but I learned so much more," Lynch told NBC Out.
The Rudy's Barbershop CEO said the company, which has an ongoing partnership with the It Gets Better Project, was looking for new ways to help the LGBTQ community. After touring the center, Lynch was saddened to hear that many of the residents in its transitional housing program were thrown out of their homes after coming out to their families.
"They end up on the street, and they're homeless," he said, adding some even "become addicted to drugs, because they need to stay up at night to protect their belongings, so they turn to drugs to keep them up at night."
He called the spiral "sickening."
"You think that with how much progress we've made in this community, with people being more open and understanding and empathetic that there would be fewer kids being thrown in the streets by their family and friends for being who they are," he said.
Lynch realized homeless people don't just need food and clothes — they need toiletries to get clean and feel dignified. It was clear to the CEO that Rudy's Barbershop was in a perfect position to pitch in.
"Almost 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, which is a staggering number," Lynch said. "So we recognize that that's part of the community that we wanted to help out."