"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
So far, this project has taken Sharkey to New York, California, Colorado, Florida & Washington State. View the feature
.See more of the project
.DeMarques © M. Sharkey