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These young queer people in California share their vision for the future, in their own words

Jaclyn Cosgrove, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Lifestyles

With recent polls showing that about a quarter of Gen Z adults in the U.S. identify as LGBTQ+, it's clear the future is queerer than ever.

And yet, a majority of respondents in a recent national poll for the Los Angeles Times said they don't know anyone who is transgender or nonbinary.

Queer youth come from all walks of life and from all over the country, but many end up in California, where they are embracing themselves, finding friends and building community. They are also dreaming big — some for the first time — about their own days ahead.

Here, six queer young people from Los Angeles and San Francisco open up about who they are and how they see the future.

Dayanna Gamez, 20, she/they

How do you identify? As a queer woman.

What is one thing you wish people knew about you? "I wish people could understand the depth at which I can really go [to] help people deeply understand themselves in a more loving way."

What type of career do you hope to pursue? "Right now, I'm a shadow work healer, so I shine light on people's shadows through speaking and coaching so I can help them overcome their inner demons."

What role will queer youth play in the future? "Queer youth will play a very big role in just helping people free their minds [from] believing that they're limited, that they can't do certain things because of certain ways or certain laws or certain things. I think queer people will help people access inner freedom to be more themselves, more liberated."

What are your hopes for your own future? "I just want to live however I want. I want to actually live, because I feel like there's so many people who are just surviving... I want to help people get to know themselves on deeper levels and just bring my light everywhere."

Elio Hawk Garcia, age 22, they/them

How do you identify? 2Spirit.

What is one thing you wish people knew about you? "When I say I listen to everything, I literally listen to everything. There is no genre of music I will not listen to."

What type of career do you hope to pursue? "Right now, I'm a full-time student. I'm majoring in biology, minoring in computer science. My big goal is to become an astro microbiologist for NASA, so essentially looking for aliens."

What role will queer youth play in the future? "Queer youth will shape and change what it means to be queer in the world because that is how it always has been and how it always will be. The youth will take our community and established definitions and change them completely, as it should be."

What are your hopes for your own future? "I hope I get to spend the rest of my life doing what I love, living with the person I love, in a place that I love. I guess I just want to continue being happy."

Emmi Gonzalez-Soto, 22, she/they

How do you identify? As a trans woman.

What is one thing you wish people knew about you? "I wish people knew beforehand that I was queer so they [could have] told me, 'It's OK, this is who you are, don't be scared of it,' and I would have been able to live my truth a lot sooner, instead of being that scared autistic kid in high school that might be queer."

What type of career do you hope to pursue? "I want to be in early childhood education. I either want to be a teacher or therapist [who] works with kids with autism."

What role will queer youth play in the future? "Youth, in general, are closer to taking power than ever. Queer youth as a whole rise up, and their voices are heard. And certain members of the right wing tremble in fear."

 

What are your hopes for your own future? "I want to embrace my own style, my own femininity, be it not traditional. I'm not butch, but if I look butch, then that's OK with me. For me, femininity is the way I want to dress, my style, the way I feel good about myself. That's my femininity. And if it makes people mad, all the better."

Evan Johnson, 26, they/them

How do you identify? Agender and asexual.

What is one thing you wish people knew about you? "I wish that people knew that one of my hopes as I get older is that I keep doing the same reckless things that I did 'when I was younger' for the rest of my life."

What type of career do you hope to pursue? "I'll definitely be staying in the realm of advocacy — maybe after I complete my [master of social work] I'll go into patient advocacy or medical social work. I also would really like to one day have capacity to run for school board and set a different tone than what we've been seeing lately."

What role will queer youth play in the future? "Besides things like how they're impacting areas of advocacy and social change across affected populations, I'm really excited to see what the future of parenthood looks like for this new generation. Already we're seeing more parents my age who are raising their children deliberately without gender norms and more mindful of all of the ways that humans show up, so I can't wait to watch that continue to evolve!"

What are your hopes for your own future? "To eventually have an apartment big enough for a second cat and/or a dog. But in the short term, I want to get some of the tattoos that I said I would when I was a kid and begin a graduate program. There are so many more institutions that need to be confronted with the reality of queer professionals and academics, and I'm absolutely going to be a part of that."

Iziaih Choquette, 27, they/them

How do you identify? Nonbinary.

What is one thing you wish people knew about you? "How much I care about just people and our overall experiences as humans and the chance for everybody to get equal opportunities to achieve whatever potential or dreams that they have."

What type of career do you hope to pursue? "I go to a different career every day ... like 'Hey, I want to be a dog walker today,' or 'I want to go be a nursing temp today,' or I want to go cook and bake.'... It's living that idea that life is always changing, and just to always be ready for that."

What role will queer youth play in the future? "They've already started their role. I think that queer youth are the game changers. They're the rule breakers. We're the ones who defy how society has told us to be because we know it's bull—."

What are your hopes for your own future? "I do a lot of work within youth homelessness here in L.A., and my goal is to set it up or at least play a role in a system that gets people supported and connected to resources and stably housed within two to four hours of wait time, [so] that there is no [longer] this mass population that's growing of homelessness within our youth."

Mark Anthony Chavez, 22, he/they

How do you identify? Queer and nonbinary.

What is one thing you wish people knew about you?"Especially if you've gone through a lot of judgment and prejudice within your life, there's really only two routes it can really go: It's being so protected and secretive and secure [in order to] make sure that you're not hurt again, or [it's learning] to take people as they are and try to create as much of a safe space for them... I hope people get from me that I'm not going to judge you for anything."

What type of career do you hope to pursue?"I really want to work in marketing and communications in the arts world."

What role will queer youth play in the future? "We have such a large demographic gaining independence, gaining knowledge and gaining a spirit of light and love that they need for themselves and for others, and it really empowers the entirety of queer youth to have a really bright future in terms of caring for others and caring for the world."

What are your hopes for your own future? "I would just like to be comfortable and be happy. A lot of people, as they grow up, they lose these ideas of grandeur for their life. But I think especially for queer youth, the simplicity of just living happily is grand to them."


©2024 Los Angeles Times. Visit at latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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