08/01/2013 06:25 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Sharing the Stories of LGBT Youth: Emily, 20, From Minneapolis (PHOTO)

We Are the Youth is a photographic journalism project chronicling the individual stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) 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 Emily.

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By Emily, as told to Diana Scholl


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, Minn., and I lived out in the country. I didn't wear a shirt until I was 7 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 a Catholic school that's really conservative.

I went upstairs and told my parents what happened, and they were like, "Well, we're voting yes," and I'm like, "You're not even doing it for me? I'm your kid."

I came out to my parents last year. When I told them, they started asking awkward questions that if I were talking about a boy they would never ask, like, "Are you attracted to her?" Ummm, yeah. I thought my mom would be more understanding, because she was on a softball team and there were maybe three straight women on the softball team. But they didn't let me bring a girl home for dinner, and I'm not allowed to tell my sister. And my mom was like, "Just because guys don't like you doesn't mean girls will."

I first really realized I liked girls at prom in high school. I thought this girl I went to school with was gorgeous, and I had a huge crush on her throughout high school, and I just thought I thought she was pretty. At prom I was with a boyfriend I had for three years, and I was like, "I'd rather be dancing with her tonight." But you get scared at first, because especially your parents are negative around it, and your friends aren't OK with it either.

I have no idea who I'll end up with. People are like, "Are you 60-percent guys and 40-percent girls?" I couldn't tell you if I knew. It's kind of scary. I had a boyfriend before who questioned it. He's like, "How can you be with me if you like girls?" and I'm like, "Bisexual is both." And he'd nitpick, nitpick, and want a threesome. I wanted to smack him across the head.

I'm a little lost right now, but it's nice to know that I'm being me and doing it the right way and at my own pace. It's a long journey to figure out who I am truly.

Photo by Laurel Golio, taken in Minneapolis, 2013.