When photographer Letizia Mariotti began meeting homeless LGBTQ youth in New York City, she felt a duty to help spread their stories.
She began photographing the queer youth she encountered at LGBTQ gathering places and interviewing them about their experiences. All of the subjects of her photos live, or at one point have lived, at the Ali Forney Center, which serves LGBTQ youths in New York. The majority of them have faced rejection from their families because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“I want parents of LGBTQ kids to understand the tragic scope of this problem and the profound influence family acceptance plays in the lives of the LGBTQ youth,” Mariotti told HuffPost. “I want them to understand that an indecently high percentage of the LGBTQ youth suffer emotional abuse and violence first from their parents, relatives, and the communities they live in.”
With 40 percent of homeless youth identifying as LGBTQ, Mariotti hopes her project can help others see these individuals clearly and compassionately.
“People need to be less judgmental and more accepting,” she said. “People need to stop seeing the world in stereotypes, stop trying to define what ‘normal’ looks like.”
Check out photos and excerpts from interviews with the young people featured in Mariotti’s project below.