Sloan, Age 18, Minneapolis, Minnesota

My mom took me to get my first binder. It’s from a sex shop boutique in Milwaukee that’s really cute. When you first go in there’s this stand of just vibrators. I can’t believe my mom went in with me because she’s kind of weird about sex stuff. Like we went back to the car and she was just giggling, but that was a fun experience. She kinda saw how happy it made me and how much better I felt about everything.

My extended family on one side is conservative Baptist and the other side is Catholic but my parents, they’re both pretty religious, but not crazy religious. I guess I got lucky in that lottery.

When I first started using they/their/them pronouns and going by Sloan, I had a friend who probably says more than he should sometimes, and he started asking my sister how she felt about it and apparently she started crying. When I heard that, it just broke my heart. (more…)


Jacob, Age 20, Minneapolis, Minnesota 

I knew I was gay from a very young age, probably as early as second grade when I knew that I was different from other people. I could not pinpoint it, but I could feel it. And that’s the only way that I can honestly describe it. Just that inkling, you know? Something in the back of your head that would just bug you all day. And unfortunately that didn’t help with my childhood because I was overweight, and I was artistic so that triple-whammy took a toll on me mentally and physically.

When I came out to my dad he did not flinch. He said, “You’re still the same person to me. And I’ll love you always.” And it was the exact words that I needed to hear. He actually offered to tell my mother for me, and I accepted his request, and she took it incredibly hard. Not so much in the fact that, “Oh, my son’s gay.” It’s the fact that she realized how much I was suffering for the entirety of my life and how much I had gone through. And because I was hurting, she was hurting.

It honestly surprised me how accepting my parents were because you go through living the majority of your life thinking that you’re gonna be rejected, and you’re gonna be denied, and all these things. And then hearing it for what it really is was honestly the greatest relief of my life. (more…)


Qwill, Age 20, Northfield, Minnesota

I was kind of weird in high school. Maybe not weird but quirky, I suppose. In high school I felt like I was always on the outside of friend groups trying to get in. I never really felt like I was part of a community where I was really wanted. Then I came to Carleton and I made these really good friends. Now I’m still quirky but everyone else is quirky also.

When I applied to Carleton I went by my old name. I haven’t changed my name legally or anything, but I’ve been going through the process of trying to change my name completely on campus. So when I came here I introduced myself as Qwill. It’s listed as a nickname but sometimes professors don’t print out that roster, so I have to correct them in class when they’re doing attendance, which I don’t really like.

Qwill is actually the name of a character in a murder mystery book series. I read the books a lot in late middle school, and then I think I just picked it for some camp name or something and really liked it and then, yeah. Also, I picked it just because it’s a gender-neutral name and it’s not really a name where anyone has any connotations as to what gender it belongs to. (more…)


Emily, Age 20, Minneapolis, Minnesota

I came up here two months ago. I want to become a film major and there are some good schools around here. The plan was to come here, and work a lot to pay for school. Now I’m working at a factory. You’re just assembling and passing on. It’s very boring and there’s no music and it’s just machinery. But you find the nicest, most genuine people there.

I love Minneapolis. I’ve always been kind of a city girl, but I was born and raised in Shakopee, Minnesota, and I lived out in the country. I didn’t wear a shirt until I was seven, and ran with the wolves at night. I’m glad I had the country in me when I was a child because now I’m more of a free spirit as my dad calls me.

My parents are very conservative. My little sister is 12. She asked me, “Who are you voting for?” and asked, “Are you voting yes or no?” She was talking about Amendment 1, to ban gay marriage. I said I’m voting no. She said, “I’m voting yes at kids’ vote.” And she went through a whole bible verse about how God created Adam and Eve. She’s in Catholic school that’s really conservative. (more…)


Anne, Age 19, Omaha, Nebraska

I think I have one of the most unique RA positions at Lincoln because I am the only RA in a building for grad students. And it’s funny because I’m 19 and most of them are, like, 25 years old. Generally, that’s the age of people I hang out with anyway, but it was just sort of this funny dynamic. I didn’t come out to them about my age, but they just sort of find out. But they have respect for my authority and that I know what I’m talking about. So that’s good. I like being an RA, because it’s sort of setting a positive example for people which I think is also why I’m part of the Queer Nebraska Youth Networks.

I got involved with QNYN because Drew Heckman, who started the Gay Nebraska Youth Network a couple years ago, and I were both speaking on a panel. We were telling our stories and then both started doing these full-body nods about what each other was saying. We both just wanna make sure when no other youth, when they come out, feel discriminated against. Or at least if they do they have a place to deal with it.

It was scary for me to come out. I was a sophomore in high school when I started  come out to friends. I went to an all-girls Catholic high school. Some people would think that that would be a bad experience, but actually it was fantastic. My whole class rallied behind me, everybody seemed to be really on fire for activism and the faculty and staff were really supportive.



KiRel, Age 18, Ottumwa, Iowa

How can I say it without sounding racist? I fit in more with the white people than the black. I’m a little white boy honestly. The only time my black comes out is when I’m mad. Not a lot of people see that side of me. With my family, I still kind of feel like I’m a black sheep.

The only judgement I care about is my family’s. That was one of my worries when I came out, how my family was going to react. A trillion things going through my mind at rapid speed. But after I actually did it, nothing really changed. Most of them say as long “as you’re happy, I’m happy.” I know other relatives are gay, but not openly. They’ve come up to me, say “I’m gay.” or “I’m bisexual.”  I’m like, “They don’t treat you any different. They won’t treat me different.”

My one aunt is the family reverend. I’m gay, she’s a pastor, how’s that really going to work? I know she still loves me and everything. (more…)


Natasha, Age 15, Iowa City, Iowa

I’m wearing high tops because I just found them again. I’m wearing fishnets because it was cold outside. And I’m wearing the skirt because my friend gave it to me. And I’m wearing a Dead Kennedys shirt because they’re a good band.

I was raised by two people that were part of the punk scene here, so I was raised listening to the Ramones and the Clash and stuff like that. But the first band I got into on my own was the Dead Kennedys so they’re really important to me.

My dad was a drummer in a punk band, and my mom never played many instruments but she was at shows a lot. I think they’re proud of me. My mom works weekends, but my dad is usually at our shows. Sometimes he’s like, “You should do it like this!” And you know, sometimes I get weirded out by the fact that I might be following in my parent’s footsteps. (more…)


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…)