Carl Siciliano will join S&P's Contributing Editor, Jon M. Sweeney, for our next “Off the Page" Live on Facebook conversation about Making Room on June 27, 2024 at
12 pm PT / 3 pm ET. Join us live on Spirituality & Practice's Facebook page!

Carl says it clearly and plainly in the prologue: “This book is about homeless queer youth. It’s about the terrible harm done to them when our eyes, and policies, are blinded to their human value. It’s about the love and protection that should be every child’s birthright.”

His story is a spiritual memoir, but also, importantly, a search for God and for justice. As such, Making Room is absolutely beautiful, necessary, and destined to become a classic.

He acknowledges that he started from a place of privilege, and it shattered him to be a witness to everything he saw. “I could never again be satisfied with the selfish, materialistic values of my upper-middle-class upbringing. I would need to find a new way being alive.” Carl is a spiritual luminary whose heartbreak guided him to accompany LGBTQ homeless youth into the depths of their pain and help them heal, receiving healing himself in the process.

His journey took place in New York City, and as a result, there is the city before Carl’s founding of the Ali Forney Center, and afterwards. Before, it was a place of common danger, violence, and despair for homeless LGBTQ youth — a dreaded place where killings and abuse were tragically common. Even supposed “safe havens” were tainted by homophobia, as Carl remembers well. But this changed significantly with Carl’s tireless efforts and advocacy.

He describes not just providing shelter for the kids; he crafted sanctuaries where love and care were personalized. He didn’t just provide direct services but also challenged the existing political structures by bringing the needs of those on the outside into the halls of decision-makers, demanding that they pay attention.

There was also the challenging of religious leaders who refused to see, act, love, or listen. At one point, Carl tells the story of a priest who refused to renew his organization’s lease, effectively kicking them out into Times Square. The priest was enamored with crucifixes, and referred to them often. Carl writes: “When Jesus died on the cross, it was to humbly share in our sufferings and reveal the depths of God’s love. The love of the crucified Christ was a million times more present in our abandoned kids than in anything [he] might hang on a wall.”

There are other New York City details that will make you smile and give you hope, such as the story of when Lady Gaga visited their Harlem drop-in center. See the excerpt accompanying this review for a taste of it.

Making Room is a book to read, but also to pray with, because our world is desperately in need of the spiritual transmission it offers. A transmission that helps us come home to ourselves and become home for others. The future depends on our doing this kind of work, and Making Room should inspire many in that direction.


Father Adam Bucko is an Episcopal priest, spiritual director and activist committed to an integration of contemplation and just practice.