We Are the Youth: Celebrating Queer Brooklyn is a series of portraits and interviews showcasing the individual stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in Brooklyn, New York. The ongoing series will be available on wearetheyouth.org, and four of the profiles will be on view from July 17 – July 28, 2012 at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, as part of the Fresh Fruit Festival.
We Are the Youth: Celebrating Queer Brooklyn has been made possible through the generosity of Brooklyn Arts Council’s Local Arts Support grant, funded by the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Program (NYSCA Regrant), and through a partnership with Housing Works.
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…)
We’re thrilled to announce that We Are the Youth will be featured in Testimony: A Living Exhibition of Queer Youth, showing at Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. The show is on view from July 18-28, 2012 and is part of the 10th Annual Fresh Fruit Festival!
Join us for the Opening Night Reception, Wednesday July 18, 6-9pm.
Hope to see you there!
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.
I moved out of my family house my junior year of high school. I was doing a lot of outside things my family didn’t agree with, and they gave me the ultimatum. At that point, I could support myself through ballet and modeling for the adult entertainment industry. Ironically, the modeling was also the thing they didn’t agree with.
I started modeling when a promoter saw me at the club in Cincinnati, where I grew up. At first, I did a lot of underwear modeling, and after I turned 18 I started doing nude photography.
I was very hesitant at first, because at that point I had started developing myself professionally as a dancer. And nude photography can tear someone’s career apart. I don’t do it anymore, because I’m even further in my career as a dancer. People started to notice me from some of the modeling work I was doing. Even recently, a well-known dancer came across something, and it made me scared a little bit that she saw something I did years ago. (more…)
In Japan if you have tattoos, you’re in the mafia. When I saw my grandmother in Japan I had to cover mine up because she’d reject me as part of the family. I also couldn’t tell my grandmother I was gay. Having tattoos and being gay and going to art school? She’d be like, “What are you doing with your life?”
I’m half-Japanese and half-white. When I’m in America I feel more Japanese, but when I go to Japan I feel really white. It’s strange because I don’t really have a home. My mom has lived in America for 30 years, but says she views her time here as an extended vacation. I asked her if she wants to move back to Japan, but she said she’s too old at this point. She’s basically cut off ties with my dad so I told her she should do what she wants.
I was born and raised in Minnesota, but I didn’t really speak English until I was five. Now English is my primary language. I think in English. I dream in English. My Japanese is slowly fading. (more…)
I’m lucky I already had my kids before I got HIV. I became HIV-positive June 16, 2011 in Florida. It was with a real female and the condom popped. She knew she was HIV-positive but didn’t tell me. I was so angry.
Then I came to New York in August, because it was too slow with the medicine in Tampa. My homeboy said he’d get me one of his private doctors, but then someone told me in New York they have a program to help with benefits.
When I came to New York, my girlfriend Honesty and I were looking for a shelter. I stopped at Housing Works, because I heard there was a shelter on Pitkin. I met Johnny, and I asked if it was a homeless shelter. He said it was for people with HIV and AIDS, and asked if I was HIV-positive. I said, “Yes, I am.” After my test results came back, he got me signed up for HASA to get me into housing, and offered me a job. He said I can do outreach to the youth.
Joan Rivers made an absolutely ridiculous comment that there are no gay men at Occupy Wall Street, because we care too much about how we look, or whatever. She might just be trying to be funny, but it got on my nerves a little bit. When people say things like that, sometimes I want to be like “Oh my god, shut up. I know you’re trying to be funny. But it’s incredibly disrespectful.”
A teacher at Pratt didn’t think there was enough of an openly queer presence at Occupy Wall Street, and we wanted to show that’s not the case. That’s why I was under the rainbow banner at Zuccotti Park last week chanting “We’re here, we’re queer, we’re not going shopping!” The 99% includes everyone, including us.
Occupy Wall Street has been the biggest thing I’ve ever been involved in.I’ve always been ultra-liberal, and wanted to get more involved with activism, but there were never things going on around us. I helped with phone-banking for Obama, and I was involved in queer activism at my high school in Baltimore. My high school had a gay-straight alliance, and the Westboro Baptist Church protested us. No one knows why. They do it kind of arbitrarily. But it brought the school together. The school did a huge counter-protest. But life happened and activism didn’t feel like the priority.
Coney Island is definitely my favorite place in New York City, if not the world. I live in TriBeCa, and in the summer I try to go once or twice a month to Coney Island. It’s such a great place to spend the day. You can go on the rides, go to the side show, get food, go on bumper cars, go to the arcade. I love the arcade. I don’t go alone. That would be a little awkward. I’d just be sadly eating my hot dog alone. I go with friends.
I like my friends in high school a lot. I hated my middle school. I didn’t really have many friends. It wasn’t my place to be. There were only 20 kids in my grade, but everyone was best friends and I was an outsider. I went to the school since I was two, and liked it a lot until I was 11. Then in sixth grade everyone started changing.
I definitely changed. That was the year I basically started to transition. In the end of sixth grade I watched “Barbara Walters: My Secret Self.” It was all about transgender kids. I tried to convince myself that wasn’t me. I didn’t want to go down that path because it seemed so difficult. But every day it was something I thought about more and more until there was no other option. (more…)
I got my first tattoo on my 18th birthday. I’ve gotten seven since I’ve moved to New York. Tattoos are a showcase of my art and my passion. They’re so addicting.
The tattoo on my arm is my transition tattoo. I was blossoming into the person I am becoming, so I thought of orchid flowers. Pink and blue are symbolic colors for gender. The blue flower is bigger than the pink one, because it will never go away that I was a girl, but this is who I am now.
For a few weeks I wanted to go to the LGBT club at school. But I can’t. I can’t bring myself to do it. I don’t want to be out. I feel like if I come out, there will be stigma attached to me. Like, “Oh, there’s Chase. The guy that used to be a girl.” Since moving to the city, I’ve been 100 percent stealth. I live with a few kids from high school and another transguy. They’re the only ones who know, other than my trans friends. I don’t mind people knowing. I just don’t advertise it.
For most people, realizing they’re transgender takes a lifetime. For me it only took a year. Once I have an idea in my head, I run with it. I’ve never wanted to slow down with this. (more…)
I wasn’t scared to move to New York, because I’d been sneaking away to the City since I was 11. My friends and I would skip school and ask people how to get to the Village. My dad wasn’t a parent who was overprotective. I never gave my parents reason to disbelieve in me.
I’ve been happy since moving to New York. Not as happy as I was in the beginning, but that was during the summertime when everything was great.
I was on the beach last summer, and guys would just hit on me. It was a lot easier for me to meet people in New York. It was on the beach that I met a 42 year old guy who was a social worker at NYU. We only dated for two months, but I really got to know him. I really fell in love with him. It was so cosmic, I guess. It was one of the greatest times of my life. (more…)
I was born in Poland, and I’ve lived in Williamsburg most of my life. There used to be nothing here but factories. I used to hate it. But now there’s so much going on, I don’t want to leave for college next year.
I’m going to Poland this summer to stay with family for six weeks. I definitely won’t tell them I’m gay. Poland is one of those places being gay is really not tolerated. My mom’s really cool about it though.
I came out to myself my sophomore year, and to my mom recently, two months ago. I wasn’t really worried about telling her because I knew she’d accept me. But I just didn’t feel like I needed to tell her before that. (more…)