Trent, Age 16, Lincoln, Nebraska

Ever since I was little we were raised Methodist. Not by my mom because she’s not very church-y but people in the family were very Protestant in their beliefs. I just never really got the whole idea of one God, and why it just had to be a man and there wasn’t any feminine aspect to anything. So I researched and I talked to people that were of other religions and Paganism was the only religion that came from the heart and made sense to me.

Paganism is a very old religion; 15,000 years-old, approximately. We worship nature. There are male and female aspects of the God and the Goddess and everything on Earth. We hold the Earth sacred, and worship it as a divine being in itself.

I was in a group of people who worshiped together, but that broke up mostly because our high priestess decided that she didn’t want the thing going on at her house because her mom wasn’t accepting of it. So it was hard to arrange meetings, and barely anybody showed up half the time. It was kind of a waste. So I’ve been worshiping solitarily since middle school. (more…)


Kendra, Age 17, St. Paul, Minnesota

I am dating a girl from North Carolina I met online. She came and visited me on July 4th. It was fun. She introduced me to her family who lives here actually. This surprised me that she introduced me to them because we are both Hmong.

This is my second time dating a Hmong girl. I mean, the first time I dated a Hmong, I didn’t think it was right because I felt like since being Hmong, we all are related, so I thought it felt weird at first. But love is love.

I came out to my friends as a lesbian between seventh and eighth grade year. Now my brothers and sisters know but my parents do not know. My dad doesn’t accept it because the Hmong culture doesn’t really accept the fact that two women or two men would get married and not have kids from their own blood. That’s the traditional way. (more…)


Kali, Age 19, Minneapolis, Minnesota

The most exciting part about associating as bisexual is that you don’t have to choose who to love. If you meet this wonderful woman and you’re  straight, it’s like “Well I’m straight, what am I gonna do?“ I don’t believe that love exists based on gender or gender roles. I already have the ability to love anyone so it’s kind of just what happens, happens. And I go with it.

The reason I associate as bisexual is not that I can’t decide. But I feel weird when I say I’m bisexual because from both sides, both the gay and straight, whatever that is, people don’t take bisexual people as seriously as they do one or the other. I think it’s because of the stereotype of young, naive girls attempting to get the wrong kind of attention from guys with that, oh let’s get drunk and kiss, I’m bicurious. It’s hard to be associated with that image when I open up and tell people about my sexuality.

I talk to my mom about almost everything so in 7th grade I was just like,  “Mom I’m pretty sure I’m bisexual,” And she did what most people do  when they hear bisexual. She was like, “Oh that’s a phase. You’ll get over it and you’ll decide which one you really want.” And I was like, “Okay, probably not.” But we’ll see. She promised her support either way. (more…)


Jaydee, Age 16, Bellevue, Nebraska

I switched schools because of bullying. There was a lot of harassment, and people calling me a lot of names. Fag, dyke, tranny. Nobody would do much about it, even my principal. I was like, screw this, I might as well go to a different school.

There’s more LGBT-friendly people at this school. I’m the only trans kid at school. It kind of gives me a little more pressure. What people see from me they kind of expect from other trans people. At the same time, it’s pretty awesome. I feel like I have to set an example in a way.

I like to go by “Mizter.” I made it up myself. I’m more male than female, but I’m not scared to feel feminine. (more…)


Alex, Age 19, Minneapolis, Minnesota

What’s the hardest thing I’ve ever been through? I know the answer to this. I was actually diagnosed with anorexia in 2007, a while ago. It was kind of like OCD. It started out as a diet and I just couldn’t stop because I kind of go all-out on things. It goes along with how I get fixations with cartoons; how I used to obsessively redraw Bart Simpson.

It was something where I set up a meal plan for myself that was really low on any intake, and I couldn’t break from it. I’m at a healthy weight now, and have a meal plan set up by a dietician, but it’s something I still deal with every single day. I think very obsessively about what I eat. I think it’s that I don’t trust myself.

The anorexia initiated me going to therapy every month, and I think the therapy grounded me to be a successful person. I really like the way I developed and I feel like I maybe wouldn’t have gotten here if I didn’t try to solve my problems in therapy. It helped me with my problems of religion and cynicism about the world.

I kind of consider myself a born-again-atheist. I’m kind of a fake pseudo-Buddhist despite my materialistic tendencies. I was raised Lutheran, but through my own thought found my way out of it. It was a difficult time; to feel like I was losing a part of myself. I couldn’t believe in God if I even tried anymore. It disturbed me, because something that made me feel like everything was going to be okay was gone. When I was more religious I used to feel more connected to things. I feel disconnected from it now. But that gives me comfort that I can live independently as an individual. (more…)


Ella, Age 17, Colfax, Iowa

I’m the youngest of six kids and all my other siblings graduated from school in Colfax, but it was not the academic atmosphere I wanted to be in. In seventh grade, we had kids looking up porn and just goofing around while the teachers did nothing. So my mother allowed me to go to a private school, Pella Christian. My first impression was that it was absolutely wonderful because kids were held accountable for their actions, and I thought it was a really good learning environment.

Unfortunately, due to the religious aspects, it was extremely hateful. I was raised Catholic and the school was Protestant Reform, and I faced a lot of heat for that alone. They said I was polytheistic or my beliefs were weird. There were also instances where we had sermons that were extremely anti-gay. I remember sinking down in my chair and being so ashamed because that was when I was starting to come to accept myself as a lesbian.

I was out to my mom and online, but not to anyone in person, per se. And that was really difficult because I felt extremely alone. During chapel my freshman year, all my friends would be singing these hymns of joy and I would just be weeping. I played it off like I was so emotionally moved by God’s words, but really I was devastated because of them. (more…)


Dawaune, Age 18, Omaha, Nebraska

My dad and I weren’t super-close, so I didn’t feel I had to come out to him. But then September of last year I went to donate blood for the Red Cross, and I answered truthfully, and wasn’t able to donate blood.  I remembering thinking, That’s a thing? It was the first time I felt discriminated against because of my sexuality.

I was so mad, and I posted a status about it on Facebook. My dad saw it, and he called me the next day. He was really hurt I hadn’t told him. He actually cried that night. I had dinner with him and my sister, who always knew. My dad said he wanted to change the fact that we weren’t close. The air between us is a lot different now.

My coming out story to my mom is kind of funny. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school that I was sitting upstairs in my pajamas watching What Not to Wear and my mom comes upstairs and had clearly had a little wine, and a margarita or two. (more…)


Izabela, Age 17, Lincoln, Nebraska

I’m very into Marilyn Monroe. Yes, she was successful, but she had a lot of brokenness to her. I feel like I just put on a good face, but I’m not okay sometimes. So I kind of click with her in that way. Before I went to Boys Town, I’d take pills all the time. I could stop whenever I wanted, but I didn’t want to stop. She had that problem too.

I went to Boys Town because I was going through a lot of stuff. I wasn’t going to school, so that got me a truancy case, and then I got in a fight, so I got a couple of assault tickets. The fight was mostly my fault. I got my anger out, but she ended up winning because I got put on probation.

After the fight, my school had an evaluation done: Should you stay with your mom, should you go to jail, or go to a group home? They ended up saying I should go to a group home. (more…)


 Via, Age 20, Queens, New York

I met my girlfriend through the fellowship I was accepted to sophomore year. We clicked because — same-sex problem — we’re both named Victoria, and there was name-tags on the table and we both reached for the same name tag. We talked about gender study stuff and had a good conversation, and then she asked for my number.

We’ve been dating a little over a year now. This is the most adult relationship I have ever been in. My parents didn’t like her at first, but not because she was a woman or anything. My girlfriend before her was Filipino, and knew all about Filipino culture and went to church. They kind of took her on as her daughter. And here comes my new girlfriend all white and talking about women’s issues and how God doesn’t exist and God is a woman and things like that.

But even though she doesn’t practice a religion, she goes to church with us on Sundays because she knows it’s something my family does. She spends time with my my parents, goes to family gatherings with me, and is even picking up Tagalog quickly. She showed my parents that their presumptions were misguided. (more…)


Mars, Age 18, Brooklyn, New York

I decided I wanted to go to School of Visual Arts in sixth grade. I thought I wanted to do interior design. My mom had a lot of HGTV going on around the house. Then I realized that required a lot of architecture, and I was awful with math, and didn’t really like choosing throw pillows. So I changed my mind. But then I realized SVA’s photography program was a lot better than their interior design program.

Seeing Catherine Opie’s “Being and Having” series made me want to be a photographer. I’m going to try to do photography as long as I can. Going to school for photo, nothing’s more apparent than how competitive it is. But I’ve never really considered anything else. I’m just going to hope it works out.

My work was featured on Autostraddle in their Artist Attack Spotlight. The funniest was this website Queerie Bradshaw made a list of seven semi-celebrities they wanted to sleep with while they were single, and I was number six. (more…)



Travis, Age 16, Chappaqua, New York

I decided to come out in 8th grade when all the girls wanted to be like Carrie on Sex and the City and have the gay best friend. My favorite way to come out was to say, “Remember how you wanted a gay best friend?” then I’d say, “I was hoping that would be me.” I completely took advantage of my sexual orientation. Not having a lot of friends at the time, I thought that was a brilliant idea.

Since then, I’ve figured out how to make friends and get over the awkwardness of middle school. My dad said how proud he was of me for becoming more socially acceptable. I think it all just comes back to figuring out who I am.



Kat, Age 17, Brooklyn, NY

I love me some comedy. I’ve always loved watching comedy, but I didn’t discover how much I love performing it until I went to the Upright Citizen’s Brigade theater. My very first experience with long-form improv was a show called “Death By Roo-Roo: Your F’d Up Family.” It was really screwed up and morbid. I was like, “Sign me up for a class!” When I started taking classes, I became funnier, more quick-witted, but most importantly, more confident. I finally had an outlet in which I could truly be myself.

I definitely want to go into comedic acting. I’ve wanted to be an actress since I was five years old. If we pretend that my GPA hasn’t been completely screwed over by my not being able to go to school most of this year, I’d like to major in drama in college.

I’ve missed so much school that I have to make up four months of work over the summer. I was in an acute psychiatric hospital. In layman’s terms, the wacky shack. I have Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder. I’ve attempted suicide before. This time, I knew I didn’t want to die, but I was just in so much pain that I couldn’t find any other way to escape. I was in danger, and didn’t want to hurt the people around me, so I checked myself in. Much of it is chemical imbalance, rather than environmental. Actually, none of my mental issues come from the fact that I’m queer, so maybe that’s a somewhat screwed up sign of progress? I’m very comfortable with my sexuality.