We Are The Youth is a photojournalism project that shares the stories of LGBTQ community. It is based on the web site that shares the stories and pictures of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth in the United States. Childhood friends and Brooklyn-based artists, Laurel Golio and Diana Scholl, started it as as a way to share diverse and personal stories of queer youths.

We Are The Youth Project. Laurel Golio

We Are The Youth Project. Laurel Golio

How it all started

In college Laurel Golio studied visual anthropology and photojournalism, and later she became a photographer. Golio’s work has appeared in The Oxford American, Printed Pages and the British Journal of Photography, New York Times and Vogue. Her images of the feminist skate crew the Brujas has also been featured in  The FADER. In 2010 she was interested in photographing queer youth and asked her friend to interview the people that she photographed. They deliberately  found diverse participants through different sources like word of mouth, social media or by publishing articles and posts to LGBTQ publics. They also did a lot of outreach while travelling. Aa a result, Golio and Scholl included portraits of over eighty LGBT teens with diverse identities and experiences into a recently printed book.

We Are The Youth Project. Laurel Golio

Diverse experiences

The main purpose of the project was to show queer people individual stories of others and get them understand they were not alone. “If I had had this when I was 15, it would have been very helpful to see a person … going through similar things,” Golio said. “ Our project aims to show that there isn’t one way to be queer, there are many different queer experiences. The wider the reach of that message and the more exposure these stories get will hopefully allow more young people to see themselves represented.” Not only was the dialogue on gay rights an important issue for the friends, they both are members of the community themselves. “I liked the idea of starting something from the ground up with Laurel … also, as a queer woman, it was personal to me to help share stories from my community.”
We Are The Youth Project. Laurel Golio

 

Successfull collaboration

Golio and Scholl have done two Kickstarter successful campaigns in 2010 and 2012. The book was funded by Space-Made, an alternative media company founded by Cameron Russell, the founder of Space-Made, an alternative media company, .   Working with her was a happy accident to the authors. They have always wanted to create a book to archive the project, and Cameron was seeking out artistic endeavors. Thus the collaboration was born. “Publishing these stories in print makes it possible to address this lack of visibility in a medium that is easily handled, carefully considered, stocked in stores, loaned to others, and archived,” they explained on publisher Space-Made‘s site.

We Are The Youth Project. Laurel Golio

We Are The Youth Project. Laurel Golio

Should we wait for other publications?

The project does an antropology in a way. Gathering images and texts from diverse people Golio and Scholl provide a platform for people to speak for themselves. Trying  to tell a varied range of stories in terms of geographic location, race and ethnicity, experience, and identities they attended some larger events like Gay Prom in Yonkers, NY, the Philadelphia-Trans Health Conference, or a Fall Fest thrown by the Queer Nebraska Youth Network. At this point they gathered an impressive archive of materials.  Having published a book friends are in the process of discussing next steps. But definitely they would not stop to create stories of queer youth. “The hope has always been to share a really diverse range of stories and experiences, and bring as much exposure to those stories as possible – so that could mean another publication in the future.”

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