05/14/2014 10:39 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Sharing the Stories of LGBT Youth: Mahlon, 20, From Riverside, California (PHOTO)

We Are the Youth is a photographic journalism project chronicling the individual stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) 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 LGBTQ youth population.

Below is the story of Mahlon, which is on display from May 15 to July 19 at Silver Eye Center for Photography as part of the exhibition Here and Now: Queer Geographies in Contemporary Photography.

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By Mahlon, as told to Diana Scholl


High school was just like TV high school. When I'm giving advice on high school to someone in junior high, I tell them, "If you watch TV, you'll be prepared." I was popular. We had the popular kids and everyone else.

My favorite memory in life so far is when I won Nationals for dance in high school. We won and got a banner with our name on it and got to perform again at the end of the night. Competitive dance actually is like the movie Bring It On. I dance in college too, but it's not as much drama. In high school it was just cheesy.

Sports is how everybody in my family bonds. I have three sisters and two brothers. My dad's a basketball coach, and one of my brothers plays for the Utah Jazz. I play football, basketball, volleyball, and cheerleading, which some people don't think is a sport, but it is. P.E. was my favorite subject in high school.

Now I'm in college, and I double-major in dance and sports medicine. Science is a pain, but I have to do it to get the job I want. I always said I wanted to be a famous dancer, but if I don't become a famous dancer, being a sports therapist would be a good job for me. It seems fun.

I'm transferring to Clark Atlanta University because I have some work I'm supposed to be doing with T.I. in Atlanta. I'm auditioning to be one of his backup dancers. It's the first experience where I'm going to be on my own. I'll be out there for a year, and if I like it, I'll stay. I'm very nervous. I've never really been away from home for too long. I live with my mom now. She's sad, because she's going to miss me, but she's excited for me.

My family's always been very supportive of me. I came out to my family when I was 14, but I wouldn't really consider it a coming out; I just confirmed it. I've been a feminine boy forever. It was good they already realized. I was just like, "Oh, that makes it even better, then. We don't have to talk about it. On to the next subject, then."

Photo by Laurel Golio, taken in Riverside, California, 2013.