New Alternatives: LGBTQ Homeless Youth
NEW ALTERNATIVES: LGBTQIA Homeless Youth (2014)
I photographed a group of LGBTQIA at-risk youth in NYC, many whom are homeless. To take these, I set up a studio in the sanctuary of a church, where these youth are given meals and taught skills. The project is called NEW ALTERNATIVES, named after the organization that helps these youth and where I volunteered in order to get to know them.
Many of these youth were extraordinarily comfortable in front of the camera and wanted to show the world who they are as individuals. They were also interested in introducing me to their chosen family - their "gay mother" or "gay brother" or their significant other - families they created for themselves to care for, love and cherish. LGBTQ youth are often shunned by their biological and/or foster families. Feeling alienated and even physically threatened, they run away to large cities to search for people like themselves. They survive on the streets by their own wits and form communities, some with defined roles. These communities exist in parallel universes that often remain hidden and forbidden to most of the public. Many people are unwilling or even afraid to look at these youth because they appear strange or different from the expected norms.
Each youth was able to choose and keep prints of him or herself. Courageous, defiant, self-confident, beautiful—these are some of the words I would use to describe the youth in these photographs. I hope that along with appreciating the uniqueness of each person photographed, viewers can find something they can relate to and identify with - a gesture, a posture or even an emotion revealed.