We Are the Youth by Laurel Golio and Diana Scholl

I came out by accident last year, during my first semester at Auburn. I was studying for a test with a friend and he was like, “I have a question and you just have to be honest. Are you gay?” I thought, I can lie like I’ve done a million times before or I can tell somebody and see how it feels. I said, “Yeah, I find other guys attractive.” And he’s like “Oh, I was just wondering.” I was like, “That was it? No pitchforks or fire?” – Braxton

Against my will, my parents know that I’m gay. I put that I was gay on Facebook, because I’m open to pretty much everyone but my parents. I didn’t think my parents would look me up online. However, Spring of last year, my senior year of high school, my mom told me, “Your dad’s not having a good time finding out you’re gay. He looked you up online.” From there it got worse. He had been answering my emails, e-mailing my mom behind my back about finding psychologists who still took gay-to-straight patients for conversion therapy. But nothing ever came of it. – Patrick

Now, I’m very proud of my identity as pansexual, and also, though I discovered this later, my identity as genderqueer. I’ve always been too masculine to feel like one of the girls and too feminine to feel like one of the boys. And, if you think about it, just what is a girl or a boy anyway? If it was really all about what organs you had, then why should so much else be attached? – Maddy

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.  I accidentally told my mom during my junior year of high school. I was thinking about it for a while. Then my mom and I were sitting in a room and she’s like, “Do you have something to tell me?” She said it was a phase and it would pass. We’ve never talked about it since. And a lot of tears were shed. By me. I don’t think she cried. – Dohyun

I’ve told everyone I’m transgender but my roommates. I’m sure they’ll accept me, but trying to get through the policies of Auburn University is more of a problem since the school doesn’t have a policy dealing with transgender students. I haven’t legally changed my name for the University. I’m waiting until I’m out of the dorm, so I’m not homeless.If the University sees me as a man, what are they going to do with me then, since I’m living in a female dorm?  I’m the only out transgender person I know of on campus. There are supposedly two others, but they’re stealth. – Chris

I do Junior ROTC after school. I have two uniforms, the regular one and the camouflage one. They had JROTC at my school, and I always saw them in uniforms. And I’ve always loved uniforms.  All the sergeants want me to join the army, but I don’t want to. Mostly because, can’t you get kicked out if you’re gay? That would be kind of bad. And I don’t want to serve. I kind of like living.  All the sergeants know I’m gay, indirectly. They joke around about it, but they love me so they don’t care. – Magda

I’ve been thinking about collaborations between photographers and writers often in the last few months.  The web seems like the perfect platform for in-depth, ongoing projects that really dig into a subject or issue. Then the other day I was introduced to this project, We Are the Youth by Laurel Golio and Diana Scholl, and thought it was a great example of the type of projects I was ruminating about.

We Are the Youth is a photographic journalism project chronicling the individual stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in the United States. Through photographic portraits and written interviews highlighting the participants’ voices, We Are the Youth captures the incredible diversity and uniqueness among the LGBT youth population.

We Are the Youth addresses the lack of visibility of LGBT young people by providing a space to share stories in an honest and respectful way.

It’s really a rather simple concept but when executed with skill, it becomes a very effective way of telling stories.

All photos ©Laurel Golio