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  READING ROOM

The Beauty And Diversity Of Today’s Queer Youth Captured In Stunning Photojournalism Project

shop-853x1024We Are the Youth is photographic journalism project that chronicles the individual stories of LGBT youth in America. The enterprise is a collaboration between award-winning journalist Diana Scholl and photographer Laurel Golio, who set out to create portraits paired with “as told to” interviews in the participants’ own voices that capture the diversity and uniqueness among today’s queer youth.

Since its inception in 2010, We Are the Youth has profiled more than 80 young people from all walks of life and from across the country. Now, what began as a web-based project four years ago is being turned into a stunning new book, released by Space-Made, an alternative media company, in conjunction with Interrupt Magazine. The book will be released in July.

Check out these powerful excerpts from the book, which is available for pre-order now.

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Dohyun, Age 19, Atlanta, GA

I come from a very, very traditionalist, conservative Korean family. Growing up, I never knew what gay was. The concept was entirely foreign to me. I actually haven’t come out to most of my family. I’m pretty sure if my dad found out, he’d kick me out. My siblings know, I think, but we never talk about it.

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Izabela, Age 19, Lincoln, NE

I’m very into Marilyn Monroe. Yes, she was successful, but she had a lot of brokenness to her. I feel like I just put on a good face but I’m not okay sometimes, so I kind of click with her in that way. Before I went to Boys Town, I’d take pills all the time. I could stop whenever I wanted, but I didn’t want to stop. She had that problem too.

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Julius, Age 19, Las Vegas

I was two years old when I came to the United States. My visa expired, and I didn’t know I was undocumented. I only realized once I saw all my friends had their driver’s license, and I couldn’t get one. I’m working on getting my work permit so I can finally work. I don’t let it bring me down whatsoever.

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Trevor, Age 20, Montevallo, AL

When I told my mom I was gay, she said, “When you were three years old you put a bra on your head and walked out in my heels and said, “Mama! I want to be a woman.” She always thought I’d be transgender. And now that I’ve been doing drag a little bit she’s like “You’re gonna like it too much. You’re going to want to be a girl.” But I assured her that, no, I don’t want to be a woman.

I feel more comfortable when I’m in drag. I’ve always been more feminine than my male peers. It’s not that I’m transgender or anything, but in the society we live in, I feel more anxious holding hands with my boyfriend as another boy than I do when I’m in drag. When I’m out of drag I dress kind of androgynous, in tight pants and a v-neck t-shirt.

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Blake,  Age 17, Charlotte, NC

Becoming homecoming king is kind of the only normal teenage dream I’ve had. I was really surprised, though, that I was nominated. I didn’t think it was attainable because I’m trans. But now I feel like I could get it. I’m taking the steps that need to be made for progress among the transgender community. I’m just trying to make the “T” in “LGBT” not so silent.

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Braxton, Age 20, Auburn, AL

I highly hold on to my evangelical roots even though they sort of slapped me in the face a little bit. But I grew up believing certain things, and just because I’m gay doesn’t mean they don’t make sense to me anymore.

There are some things I have to rethink and put different spins on. And people will say, “Well, you didn’t think homosexuality was right until you came out of the closet.” Well, I wasn’t open to discovering new things, and this puts the Scripture into a different light.

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Carter, Age 19, Oakland, CA

I don’t know what I could do to make me seem gayer. Even last night I was talking to a girl I’ve known for a while. I said something about some girl, and she was like, “Oh, are you bisexual?” She jumped to thinking I was straight to thinking I was bisexual. I’m like, “No, I’m pretty fucking gay.”

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Michelle, Age 20, The Bronx, NY

My fiancé and I had a discussion about me dressing up as Michelle. When I told him I wanted to be fully transgender, he said he didn’t want me to have the operation. Tom’s worried about my safety. I would like to start hormones, but I feel like I pass as a woman already. I have man boobs. I’ve had them since I was 11 years old…

Tom is 43. Some of my friends grill me about the age difference. Age isn’t nothing but a number. You’re not going to pass the opportunity for having true love. He is guiding me right now. He loves me no matter what.

Photos and text reprinted with permission from We Are the Youth.

By:           Graham Gremore
On:           Jun 22, 2014
Tagged: , , , ,

  • 11 Comments
    • jayj150
      jayj150

      ‘Michelle’ says: “When I told him I wanted to be fully transgender, he said he didn’t want me to have the operation.” . Young man, that is because your boyfriend, like yourself, is an in-denial gay man. He doesn’t want you to ‘have the operation’, because as a gay man he is attracted to male-bodies, like yours. But your calling yourself ‘a woman’ allows you both to live your delusion of being straight people: he gets to call himself straight because you put on a wig and changed your name to Michelle, and you feel validated as a woman because he calls himself “straight”.

      Jun 22, 2014 at 10:16 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Fang
      Fang

      @jayj150: Great, someone else trying to tell a trans person about their own identity. Real original! When will people learn that it is the individual that can speak most accurately about their own identity and it’s not really anyone else’s business to talk about it for them??

      Jun 22, 2014 at 12:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • masc4masc
      masc4masc

      @jayj150: also, check out where it said, “I would like to start hormones, but I feel like I pass as a woman already”. lol then u have trevor (dressed like a woman and posing like Beyonce) who says, “no, I don’t want to be a woman”. #transcrazies.

      Jun 22, 2014 at 12:42 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jayj150
      jayj150

      @masc4masc: I know, right?. I love the fact he admits ‘Michelle’ is a character he created in his mind. In his own words, he simply “dresses up” as Michelle and all he is interested in is “passing as a woman”. That’s what his ‘womanhood’ comes down to. That and his “man boobs”, LOL.

      Jun 22, 2014 at 4:18 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • corvaspikenard
      corvaspikenard

      It’s great to see so many interesting and diverse stories from the LGBT spectrum. Good on these people for having the courage to be themselves and express themselves in a way which they feel comfortable.

      Jun 22, 2014 at 4:34 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • masc4masc
      masc4masc

      @jayj150: lol so with a little imagination and obesity, a man can now call himself a woman. he also basically said trans is a choice:

      “When I told him I wanted to be fully transgender…”

      seems like ‘Tom’ might also be another figment of his imagination.

      Jun 22, 2014 at 6:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Merv
      Merv

      The Asian guy is hot. The Christian guy isn’t bad looking, but way too much religious baggage.

      Jun 22, 2014 at 6:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mezaien
      Mezaien

      @Merv: Just to remind you! religious IS mental illness.

      Jun 22, 2014 at 7:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DarkZephyr
      DarkZephyr

      @jayj150: @masc4masc: Wow you two are battling with some serious demons of hate.

      @corvaspikenard: I feel the same way! Sounds like a great project.

      Jun 22, 2014 at 7:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • corvaspikenard
      corvaspikenard

      @DarkZephyr: It was interesting reading Trevor’s snippet; sounds very much like my childhood and similar to how I felt growing up. It’s good for LGBT people to hear these stories so they don’t feel so alone.
      By sharing our experiences we promote community and reduce the isolation so many young LGBT people feel :-)

      Jun 22, 2014 at 7:47 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DarkZephyr
      DarkZephyr

      @corvaspikenard: Amen. It’s incredibly important. I didn’t have this when I was growing up but thank goodness for PSA’s by folks like Amanda Bearse back then!

      Jun 22, 2014 at 10:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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