Queer Kids

"It's hard to believe that when I began this project in 2006 the issue of gay youth was just beginning to gain national attention, most notably with a cover story in Time Magazine titled 'The Battle Over Gay Teens' (Oct. 2005). The article stated 'Kids are disclosing their homosexuality with unprecedented regularity - and they are doing so much younger. The average gay person now comes out just before or after graduating high school. In 1997 there were approximately 100 gay-straight alliances (GSAs) - clubs for gay and gay-friendly kids - on U.S. high school campuses. Today there are at least 3,000 GSAs - nearly 1 in 10 high schools has one. In the 2004-05 academic year, GSAs were established at U.S. schools at the rate of three per day.'

Since then, in just four years, the issue has become a kind of fait accompli. Americans may continue to argue about teenage sexual expression, school sanctioned GSAs and gay marriage, but clearly all are here to stay.

The idea for this project arose from my own desire as a gay teenager to be given a voice. I desperately wanted to be made valid in the eyes of my peers. Coming out (and of age) in the 80's proved to be quite difficult for me and many others. I'll never forget being beat-up by a high-school classmate as I'm sure all the other kids who suffered because of their sexuality will not forget. It was precisely this kind of willful, painful defiance that I wanted to capture in these portraits. But what you may also see is the delight that is the domain of a new generation... the sheer joy of being able to stand up and be seen without shame."

M. Sharkey, Brooklyn, April 2010

View the project


Eduardo Guize said...

I like them all, and I love the composition in the second photo

ToddyEnglish said...

First of all...
Why did you kill the sun? (heh).
Anyway, I love this.
I graduated in the C/O 2000 and so much has changed--for the better--since then.
I was picked on ALL the time and I had not even told ANYONE I was gay. But I knew had I said it no one would have defended my ass. The teachers were extremely homophobic.
I was called all kinds of "Faggots" "Punks" "Sissies" and EVERYTHING in the classroom and the teachers would not do a goddamn thing.

Émigré Éire, the Sun Killer said...

I hate to think of you being bullied Toddy, you're such a smart, gentle soul :(

This is why I love characters like Omar in The Wire. Making THEM run from US.

I was bullied too, but mostly for being an immigrant, and looking weird.

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