Started in 2010 by journalist Diana Scholl and photographer Laurel Golio, the website includes photos and an interviews with the youth willing to speak out. Several are from Georgia.
One participant, Marina, 21, a student at Emory University in Atlanta, says she identifies as queer and dates guys and girls.
“I identify as queer. Depending on who I’m talking to, I’ll identify as bisexual, but I think the word bisexual, to me, sort of means two genders, which isn’t necessarily how I see things,” Marina says.
“I understand two genders exist in society, but they aren’t inherent or necessary. But I go by female pronouns. More or less, I identify as female. That’s how I was raised to identify and how people view me. I’m a linguistics major, so I’ve thought a lot about these terms.”
Noah, 19, also of Macon, more is a student at Mercer University, a conservative Christian college but one that also has a LGBT student association.
“I was 16 when I came out. I told my friend, and he thought I should tell my parents because he was worried about my soul. They weren’t thrilled. I had to go to several Christian therapists. Not ex-gay therapy, but ones that try to work out what’s best for you,” he says. “A month later I actually got kicked out of my school. I told only two people at the school I was gay, so I know exactly who told the administration. It was a private school, and they had a secret meeting. It was about a week before my senior year was about to start. I had enough credits so I just graduated early. It was rough. I didn’t feel like God loved me, or my parents loved me. All those things happened at once and it was intense,” he adds.
Noah says he tried to commit suicide because he thought it was his only option. But he recovered and says now he is openly gay at college and nobody cares and is president of Mercer’s Gay-Straight Alliance called Common Ground.
“Mercer is a small Baptist school in the South, so it’s not going to be a liberal school. But it has a history of gay activism on campus that I didn’t tell my parents about when I was applying. My parents know I’m president of Common Ground, but I don’t think they realize what a big part of my life it is. I didn’t know any gay people before I came out, so I figure it’s my job and responsibility to make sure it’s easier for other people,” he says.
Kudos to these young people for coming out, speaking out and hopefully reaching other young people struggling with their own sexual orientation and seeking stories that reflect their lives.
Top photo: Marina by Laurel Golio, taken at Emory University, Atlanta, Ga.