Our trip has come to and end, and what a trip it was! Before we get nostalgic, let’s back-track:
We spent Wednesday morning exploring Iowa City and meeting Rusty the Giant Sloth at the Museum of Natural History (dude is really big!). We then hit the road for our longest stretch of driving towards Minnesota. On the way we stopped in Mason City, Iowa to visit the Frank Lloyd Wright Stockman House (it was closed but we peeked in each window and Diana made up some facts about Wright that sounded like they could possibly be real).
The next morning it was an early interview with Qwill, a junior at Carleton College in Northfield, MN. The interview marked our first profile photo of a participant in a tree (yes, a tree). We then headed to St. Paul, MN to meet with two youth participants at SOY (Shades of Yellow) at the Hmong Cultural Center. Minneapolis is home to one of the largest Hmong populations in the United States. We met with two enthusiastic participants and learned a bit more about the Hmong culture.
We also met with Nhia, the SOY staffer brought on to coordinate community outreach for “Vote No on 1,” the marriage amendment bill on the ballot for the November 6 election. The bill (if passed) would prohibit marriage between two people of the same sex, essentially recognizing marriage as only the union between one man and one woman.
We then had dinner with Emiko Nakano (!!!), intern Sarah’s (wonderful) mother. She treated us to a home-made meal of sushi, tempura, soup, salad and finally green tea cake. It was definitely one of the highlights of the trip, if not the entire year!
Friday morning we met with Hannah, an interesting young woman studying religion and theater at Augsburg College with the hope of one day becoming a Lutheran pastor (a first for a We Are the Youth participant!)
We then headed to Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD), where we met Kara, the head of the Gay Club (yes, it’s actually called “Gay Club,” how post-modern!), as well as some other rad new participants. In between MCAD interviews, we visited the Guthrie Theater and met another new participant who, ironically, will be starting MCAD in the spring.
Back at MCAD, after meeting with members of the Gay Club, we had dinner with Hot Sundae founder, Nicole Killian (a visiting artist/professor at MCAD) and her partner, Brittany (an adjunct professor at MCAD). Hot Sundae has done some design work for us in the past so it was a (big!) treat to hang out with Nicole in person!
Saturday morning was our last interview of the trip (with Sloan, another MCAD student, pictured below), after which we had a quick look around the Walker Art Center and then headed to the airport.
All things said and done, it was an amazing trip filled with amazing people. We really can’t say thank you enough to all the Kickstarer donors, friends, family, strangers, LGBT youth, community organizers, etc etc etc, who made this possible. It’s such a humbling experience to travel to new parts of the country and interview queer youth from various backgrounds. All of the participants have incredible and unique stories and it’s an honor to hear them and be able to share them with the world. Stay tuned for the new work and thank you again for all the support.
We didn’t know this before last week, but apparently Nebraska and Iowa have a bit of a rivalry. So while our new Nebraska friends had us a bit biased as to what we’d find in the Hawkeye State, we have been impressed!
After a breakfast with Eric in downtown Omaha, we hit the road to Newton, Iowa, where Dana at the Iowa Pride Network, a group that helps students in the state strengthen their gay-straight alliances, connected us with Sam and Ella. Newton Senior High School Gay-Straight Alliance, of which Ella is the president, won the award last year for best GSA in the state!
We heard their amazing stories, and after our interview, they took us on a tour of a town, and we went with them and a friend to Panda Garden, a chinese buffet. Sam had to leave for a band performance, but Ella, a member of the school bowling team, put on her bowling uniform to pose for some photos at the bowling alley that you are going to love. Then we played a game of bowling ourselves. We were not high school bowling team caliber, but had fun.
Then we headed to Ottumwa, a town about an hour south of Newton. In the morning we woke up earlier than we are use to to photograph KiRel before he started school. He was really great and friendly, and we wished we had more time to spend with him.
In Iowa City, we met with a fantastic group of high school students at United Action for Youth, profiled Jacob, Natasha, and Alex, and had a chance to talk to the great staff at UAY. Thanks Joe for inviting us!
Then after delicious sushi, we went to the Student Union to watch the Presidential Debate, where LGBT rights were absent from the debate again. But at least we got these great t-shirts.
Tomorrow is a driving day. We’ll blog again in Minnesota!
Last night we attended the Queer Nebraska Youth Network’s Gay Rack Ride at Vala’s Pumpkin Patch. We were expecting a small field with some pumpkins and maybe a picnic table or two. Man, were we wrong! Vala’s holds a Fall Festival each year complete with train rides, a Pumpkin Chuckin’ Canyon, corn maze, petting zoo, food stands, a giant trampoline…you get the idea. It was HUGE and unlike anything we’ve ever seen. We interviewed some amazing youth, photographed Miss Gay Omaha, ate smores, met brooklyn boihood’s biggest fans and ate smores (I know I said that twice, there were a lot of smores).
**If you’re a queer youth in Nebraska and you don’t already know about the Queer Nebraska Youth Networks (youth-focused, peer-led groups), you need to check it out. We’ve been super impressed with the organization, commitment, and general awesomeness of the leaders and members of the QNYN — for such a young group, they’ve done some amazing things in Nebraska (a conservative, primarily rural state) and provide support and fun-times/social activities for local LGBT youth.
Now we’re off to Newton, Iowa (home of Sharon Needles, drag queen extraordinaire!). Couldn’t be happier with our time in Nebraska; we met with new friends, old friends, went to many a bond fire and even saw a mini pony (somebody’s favorite). Everyone was incredibly nice, enthusiastic and super wonderful. Big thanks to Eric, Drew and all at the QNYN, you guys are amazing.
The fun continues! After meeting with high school student, Trent in Lincoln and local college student, Austin in Bennet, Nebraska (a town of only 500!), we made the long trek (not really) back to Omaha on Saturday afternoon, stopping at the Hi-Way Diner to interview Izabela, another new project participant!
Diana and Austin, Bennet, Nebraska
Laurel photographs Izabela
Once we hit Omaha, we headed to the Nebraska Aids Project Fall Fundraiser. Complete with hay ride, home-made chili, a bond fire, delicious smores, and really inspiring people doing amazing work, it was pretty awesome.
After the fundraiser, our amazing tour guide Eric took us to the local gay bar, Flixx Lounge where we enjoyed a wild (Cher-themed) drag show, and then back to our Medieval castle-themed Best Western for some shut eye. Fun fact #1: one of us loves drag queens. Fun fact #2: Diana got a drink called the Dreamsicle (really). Fun fact #3: Nebraska has more cows than people!
This morning we met with two super cool youth in Omaha proper and now we’re headed to the Queer Nebraska Youth Network‘s Gay Rack Ride. Stay tuned for photos!
Thanks to the generosity of so many, we have embarked on our great Midwest adventure. For the next 8 days, we’ll be traveling, profiling youth, blogging and social networking our way through the Midwest.
We left New York Friday morning, and by 2:30pm were in Omaha, and by 4:45pm we were ready to start profiling youth!
Our first stop was Lincoln, Nebraska, the state’s Capital, home to University of Nebraska-Lincoln and home to Joey, our first participant, a really smart kid on leave from school to volunteer at Bob Kerrey’s Senate campaign.
After hanging with Joey, we ate what is considered by many to be Nebraska’s best wings (delicious), then passed out at the New Victorian Inn (best rated hotel in Lincoln!).
We’re up early this morning to meet with Austin, a local college student, then off to Omaha later today to continue our Midwest adventure. We’ll talk soon, stay tuned!
That’s Right. We Did It!!! We reached our Kickstarter goal and We Are the Youth is headed to the Heartland! Now we can stop clogging your news feed, twitter feed, tumblr dashboard, email inbox, etc etc… Thank you SO much to all our supporters, we couldn’t have done it without your help and we are immensely grateful.
Off to plan the Midwest trip!
With only 4 days left to go, we’re 69% to our goal! Help support the expansion of We Are the Youth to the Midwest and donate what you can. We know circumstances have changed a lot in the last few years, but every dollar gets us closer to our goal, and we are grateful for whatever you can give. We can’t thank you enough for all your support so far.
-Laurel + Diana
We’re at the halfway mark of our fundraising campaign so let’s get rolling! Donate to our Kickstarter until Sept. 12 and help expand the project to the Midwest and Beyond. Every dollar really does make a difference, so take that coffee money and donate it to a good cause (the We Are the Youth project)!
We Are the Youth began in June 2010 when Laurel and Diana began documenting the incredible stories of LGBT youth in America. Through donated time and generous supporters, We Are the Youth has been able to provide a space where young voices can be heard. As the project expands to cover areas less traveled, we need your help! Donate to our Kickstarter campaign to help us reach our goal of $7,000 in one month, or make a tax deductible donation through our fiscal sponsor, Brooklyn Arts Council.
On this thirteenth edition of OutCasting, We Are the Youth co-founders, Diana Scholl and Laurel Golio talk with Travis about the We Are the Youth project. Diana and Laurel started the project to address the lack of visibility of LGBT young people. By chronicling the individual stories of LGBT youth in the United States and providing a space for youth to share stories in an honest and respectful way, the project has opened the door for touching stories that reveal a lot about the daily lives of LGBT youth.
OutCasting is a new public radio program giving voice to LGBTQ youth issues. It can be heard on WDFH Westchester Public Radio, the only public radio station in the lower Hudson valley.