A Deep Dive Into Identities Of Queer Teens


Speaking OUT: Queer Youth in Focus is a project 10 years in the making. It’s pages are pictures of subjects as teens and given time to reflect on their coming out experiences, which is a short journey for some and an especially long journey for many. The book shares the experiences and stories of LGBTQ youth through deeply personal handwritten text and stories of what makes them unique. This collection of youth from all over the world is utterly moving as they show what it’s like to come into your own as part of a community that struggles with its own identity and place in society.

The book by author Rachelle Lee Smith is avaialable for purchase for $15 . Here’s a first-look with exclusive pages from the book itself.

Franco Billy Chenoa2 Duffy
JoEllen Kevin Megan Raven

AJ Doc GraemeTaylor



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  • hex0

    Pretentious nonsense, sorry.

    And as a Brit I still won’t use the word “queer”, I’m gay not a queer.

  • Jacob23

    Calling gay people “queer” is a hostile act, regardless of the supposed “reinvention” or “reclamation” of the word. If an individual wants to refer to himself as queer, that is his business, but when that label is equated with being LGB, then it becomes something to resist.

  • skcord

    @hex0: I think that is the point they are trying to make, that to them there is difference between being gay and identifying as queer. I am be wrong though…

  • rachelleleesmith

    this book is exactly about that… defining yourself
    expressing yourself
    labels or not
    do not let semantics of the title detract from the heart of the message of the book and the individuals

  • DickieJohnson

    Well, I say “Bravo!” They’ve come to terms as to who they ARE. When I was a teen, in the 1960’s, all “homos” were considered to be sick perverts who were going to Hell. Lots has changed in the intervening decades. I wish these young folks all the best!

    • rachelleleesmith

      Everyone has their own issue, story, and experience.
      I am happy to have had the opportunity to use my special power (camera) to help capture, share, and allow these faces and voices to be out there as a resource.
      To share the sorrows and joys, the prejudice and the pride of growing up… label or not. It;s up to them. It;s up to you.

      If you feel inspired, please help by contributing or sharing. Under 3 days left!

      We want to get this out there for art and as an easily digestible resource. Affordable and accessible to all.

      Also, contributions will be matched by a grant AND are tax deductible!

  • inbama

    Yes children, each of you is so completely unique, no label can describe you.

    Anyone who fits a label is limited by it which makes each of you innately superior.


    Are these the rebellious children of a generation that measured their worth by in designer labels?

  • Cam

    THIS took 10 years?

    It seems more like some sophomore project for extra credit in their anthropology or gender studies class.

  • rachelleleesmith

    @Cam: It was a 10 year process.
    All subjects were photographed individually in a studio or on location. Shot with a film camera. Once the film was processed, another meeting happened between photographer and subject to choose the right image. they the photograph was hand printed in a color darkroom. They the photographer and subject met again to have the handwritten text jotted directly onto the print.
    The book includes follow up from subjects that were photographed 10 years ago to allow them to reflect on their lives, their statement, the climate in general, etc.
    That’s why the span of a decade was important

    There were a few years off of photographing due to medical concerns and one year abroad.

  • QJ201

    Art projects like this can be found in EVERY LGBT youth group going back 30 years. Nothing new here…except some one selling a book…and a debate about word “queer” (which we had 20 years ago when I was in college), so again, nothing new here.

  • enlightenone

    @Jacob23: And should be resisted at all cost unless EVERYBODY is – “queer!”

  • millo

    Could somebody please identify the black guy on the 10th picture? OH MY GOSH he looks so hot!! i wanna stalk him to death!

  • reachandteach

    We’re so excited to finally be making this book available with our friends from PM Press and Rachelle Lee Smith. The photos are stunning, the words thought-provoking, funny, sad,quirky, serious, silly…. representing just what the person was thinking when handed a sharpie marker.

    Having Candace Gingrich write the forward and Graeme Taylor write the afterword with all the amazing LGBTQ people in between shows the long way we’ve come in the last decade but also how much more work we need to do.

    Come by our shop on 25th Avenue in San Mateo CA to browse through a copy or visit us online at http://www.reachandteach.com/store/index.php?l=product_detail&p=1976.

  • enlightenone

    @rachelleleesmith: Thanks for sharing the backstory and “why” 10-year process for this thoughtful and technologically clever production with @CAM and the rest of us who was thinking what CAM wrote!

    • rachelleleesmith

      @enlightenone: hah, thanks. for the record the book wasn’t being worked on for 10 years. it started as a cathartic means of self expression and a creative outlet, then it turned into something larger as it traveled to galleries, youth centers, school, churches, and was featured at HRC and with the US Department of Education and World Pride, etc… after years of sharing stories, it was then that it made sense to have it affordable and accessible.. in book form. It conveys a snapshot in time but also catalogues change over time in growing up queer during this important time in our history… thanks!

  • isafakir

    @hex0: you are gay. ok. i am queer cuz my life is far too complicated to sum up in one word. queer says nothing but that whatever box you’ve put me in, i am not gonna fit, and the people i disagree with the most say that the worst thing i could be is a queer and thank god for that. maybe i am prejudiced and have too stereotyped views of straight people but straight guys, other than THAT i don’t know what they want. straight women ought to be my natural ally but they aren’t. their wiles don’t work on me and i am not emotionally blackmailed. so they think I am competition. not even in that ball park. thank god for queers.

    • enlightenone

      @rachelleleesmith: Didn’t say the “book” took 10 years, I said the “process,” referring back to your response to CAM!

  • isafakir

    @Jacob23: NO. nobody is calling “gay” people “queer.” Yo wanna be gay, OK. I am not that easy to define and the whole alphabet soup doesn’t fit. I always thought I was a male. But then when my son and his friends were together and thinking there was no one watching, i realized that except for THAT I didn’t have a clue what they wanted. they are so transparently full of bravado. I am what my psychiatrist once defined as polymorphous. which means I don’t fit into any boxes. I was once diagnosed as having a half a dozen different personality disorders beause the shrink could not define me. But the head shrink took me aside and said I was not suffering from anything in the DSM. I am just me. He said. And that is what queer means. not in anybody’s box. outside the box.

  • enlightenone

    @isafakir: If being in your “queer” box works for you, good, until you, hopefully, move beyond your repressed adolescence; a licensed, COMPETENT therapist can HELP. Until then, your predetermined sexual orientation is waiting for you to embrace it when you are ready!

    • isafakir

      @enlightenone: god what you don’t know about sexuality and orientation. not to speak of common courtesy, but then i am breaking rule #1: don’t feed the trolls. oh and BTW 1. if you knew anything at all about any kind of psychotherapy, you would know something about diagnostics, which your remarks prove you don’t. 2. Snark has no place in psychotherapy. 3. i do ned help: you are right: i must be outta my mind bonkers to respond to a troll.

    • enlightenone

      @isafakir: Your defensiveness is unfortunate! Sad.

    • isafakir

      @enlightenone: what is sad is the life of a troll. but hey, you know that already. thank you for the concern. deeply appreciated.

    • enlightenone

      @isafakir: The word “troll,” not that you even know what it means, is weakened when it’s used indiscriminately. Of course, you didn’t know that already!

    • isafakir

      @enlightenone: trolling”personal attacks on bloggers and your fellow commenters.” a troll (/?tro?l/, /?tr?l/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people,[1] by posting inflammatory,[2] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[3] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[4]

      This sense of the word troll and its associated verb trolling are associated with Internet discourse.

      troll2 (tro?l)

      (in Scandinavian folklore) any of a race of supernatural beings, usu. hostile to humans, who live underground or in caves.

      What is TROLL?
      TROLL is “A deliberately provocative message board user”

      TROLL Definition / TROLL Means
      The definition of TROLL is “A deliberately provocative message board user”

      The Meaning of TROLL
      TROLL means “A deliberately provocative message board user”


      [NO OBJECT]
      1Make a deliberately offensive or provocative online posting with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them:
      if people are obviously trolling then I’ll delete your posts and do my best to ban you
      [WITH OBJECT]: you folks taking this opportunity to troll me, you really need to reassess your values in your life

      Back to top
      1A person who makes a deliberately offensive or provocative online posting:
      one solution is to make a troll’s postings invisible to the rest of community once they’ve been recognized
      1.1A deliberately offensive or provocative online posting.

  • enlightenone

    @isafakir: Your life is no more “complicated” than you make it or choose to perceive it. Get over yourself!

  • michaelj72

    I like it. and good luck with the book. ‘Queer’ is fine and totally cool with me. that word I think captures some of the feeling of not fitting in, which is so common among young/er people in general and queer/gay/lesbian/trans people in particular…..and I liked when I was a member of queer nation years ago.

  • enlightenone

    @isafakir: The subject of this article is about well-adjusted TEENS discoverying their authentic identity in a world that, at the very least, wants to invalidate them. It is not about you being deeply disturbed and intellectually challenged and not getting COMPETENT help – this is a nudge not an “attack.” Feel free to do a relevant cut/paste of my attack.

    Unfortunately, Queerty doesn’t provide a “reply privately” function, so I will make my last comment to your most recent one out of consideration of my fellow Queerty commenters.

    • isafakir

      @isafakir: @enlightenone: no that is a defense against a personal insult.
      this s your attack:quote”enlightenone enlightenone
      @isafakir: If being in your “queer” box works for you, good, until you, hopefully, move beyond your repressed adolescence; a licensed, COMPETENT therapist can HELP. Until then, your predetermined sexual orientation is waiting for you to embrace it when you are ready!” endquote
      that is direct personal insult unrelated in any way to this thread, off topic. the very definition of a troll.

  • enlightenone

    @isafakir: “@enlightenone: what is sad is the life of a troll. but hey, you know that already. thank you for the concern. deeply appreciated.” This is an “attack.”

  • isafakir

    @enlightenone: no that ?s a defence aga?nst a personal ?nsult.

    th?s ?s an attack:quote”enlightenone enlightenone
    @isafakir: If being in your “queer” box works for you, good, until you, hopefully, move beyond your repressed adolescence; a licensed, COMPETENT therapist can HELP. Until then, your predetermined sexual orientation is waiting for you to embrace it when you are ready!” endquote

    that ?s d?rect personal ?nsult unrelated ?n any way to th?s thread, off topic. the very definition of a troll.

  • isafakir

    @enlightenone: quote”The subject of this article is about well-adjusted TEENS ” endquote. exactly. so why do you keep writing off topic personal insults of me, when you should be talking about the article. that is the very definition of troll. stop it.

Comments are closed.