We Are the Youth is a photographic journalism project chronicling the individual stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in the United States. Through photographic portraits and "as told to" interviews in the participants' own voices, We Are the Youth captures the incredible diversity and uniqueness among the LGBT youth population. We Are the Youth addresses the lack of visibility of LGBT young people by providing a space to share stories in an honest and respectful way. Below is the story of Izabela, the first in a series of profiles from We Are the Youth's trip to the Midwest.
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By Izabela, as told to Diana Scholl
I'm very into Marilyn Monroe. Yes, she was successful, but she had a lot of brokenness to her. I feel like I just put on a good face, but I'm not OK sometimes, so I kind of click with her in that way. Before I went to Boys Town, I'd take pills all the time. I could stop whenever I wanted, but I didn't want to stop. She had that problem, too.
I went to Boys Town because I was going through a lot of stuff. I wasn't going to school, so that got me a truancy case, and then I got in a fight, so I got a couple of assault tickets. The fight was mostly my fault. I got my anger out, but she ended up winning, because I got put on probation.
After the fight, my school had an evaluation done: Should you stay with your mom, should you go to jail, or go to a group home? They ended up saying I should go to a group home.
Boys Town is its own town, really. It has its own school, its own firefighters, and you live with a family and seven other girls. It was a hard change, but I enjoyed it. I was going to church every week, making the honor roll. And it felt like you were in a safe place.
And I did know girls from before I went there, so that made it a lot easier. I don't hang out with your everyday white girls that go to pep rallies and go to church. Most of my friends smoke. I do have white friends, but we listen to rap.
My girlfriend went to Boys Town, too. She's the girl who I originally found out, "OK, I'm bi." We were both kind of like, "I'm attracted to you; you're attracted to me." Most of our friends know we're together. Now she lives in Omaha, and I went around there a lot this summer. I see her when I can.
It's more like a friendship with benefits than a relationship where we're committed to each other. I'd care if she talks to other girls, but I don't really care if she talks to other guys. She feels like that about me, too. I was in a relationship with a guy for three years when I was with her. My ex-boyfriend didn't believe I was with her. He thought we were trying to get attention.
I guess we don't see ourselves as settling down and marrying women. I don't know why. I'm not ruling it out at all, but I see myself more in a committed relationship with a guy because my grandma -- she's the one I lived with when I was little -- she's very like, "You're going to marry a man, and he'll take care of you, and you're gonna cook and clean and take care of the kids." It's how I was raised. I'd never not go to school and not do stuff for myself because I rely on a man, but if I do get married and my husband's like, "I really want you to quit your job," I would probably see myself doing that.
I want to be married in the next five years. I'm very housewifey. I cook and clean, and I take care of kids. I take care of my brother all the time. And now that I'm older, it's like I take care of my dad. We have a relationship now, but he can't be a parent, so I was kind of neutral when my parents got divorced my freshman year. I was more sad for my brother, because he has a really good relationship with my dad. I'm happy for my brother to have that, but I didn't have that. My older sisters have a different relationship with my dad. They have a different mother, and their stepfather was really their dad. My dad was with us. He wasn't with them.
Me and my sister, who's my age, want to move to Chicago after I graduate high school this year. I'm really excited. In Lincoln I'm not meeting people I want to meet. In Chicago I probably won't go to college right away. We want to get a job and make money, then I want to go to school. I'm excited to be somewhere where you have a chance to do something.
Photo by Laurel Golio, taken in Lincoln, Nebraska, 2012.