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      photography i-D Staff 26 June, 2016

      new york couples on love, friendship, and the importance of pride

      To Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe was not simply her friend, nor her lover, but her "co-conspirator in survival." As NYC celebrates Pride, photographer Mayan Toledano meets the city's young, creative couples — boyfriends, best friends, and everyone in between. Here, they reflect on what love means in 2016, the change America needs, and what makes them proud.

      Name: Meetka Otto. Age: 19. Where are you from? Dayton, Ohio. What do you do? Intern at Eckhaus Latta and sweat a lot. Is there a gender you identify with? All and none. Is there a sexuality you identify with? No, not really. Depends on what gender I put on each day. Who are you having your portrait taken with? Sabrina Fuentes. What's your relationship to them? Best friend / future lifetime partner. What does NYC Pride represent to you? Feeling safe while also raising awareness and showing the city all the beauty we bring to it every day. What makes you proud? All of the people I'm surrounded by not taking anyone's shit and wearing what they have to say on their sleeves.

      Name: Sabrina Fuentes. Age: 16. What do you do? I'm the lead singer and bassist of my band, Pretty Sick. Is there a gender you identify with? All woman. Is there a sexuality you identify with? Bi/pan. Who are you having your portrait taken with? Meetka. What's your relationship to them? Meetka and I met a few months ago when they moved to the city and we have been friends ever since. What does NYC Pride represent to you? An opportunity to celebrate the LGBTQ community and the progress being made for and within it, as well as a reminder to continue to fight for equality, representation, and justice. What makes you proud? I'm proud of all of my friends. I'm so lucky and grateful to be surrounded by such a supportive and empowered group of people. I think the most important thing for young people to do is create an inclusive and safe community. 

      Name: Alex Arauz. Age: 15. Where are you from? New York City! What do you do? Homeschooled student/ model. Is there a gender you identify with? Male. Is there a sexuality you identify with? Gay. Who are you having your portrait taken with? One of my closest friends, Daisy Sanchez. What's your relationship to them? I know I can rely on her (except when she needs to reply to my texts...) and I trust her with everything. What does NYC Pride represent to you? Pride lets us go out into the city for a day and celebrate who we are. What are some of the biggest issues facing young Americans today? Older people making decisions that they feel are appropriate but will leave our generation dealing with the fallout. What makes you proud? Seeing people I know and people I love accomplish amazing things. 

      Name: Daisy Sanchez. Age: 17. Where are you from? San Francisco transplant in East Harlem, NYC. What do you do? Gallery and art publication intern. Is there a sexuality you identify with? I identify as gay/ a lesbian. What's your relationship to Alex? Alex is my only other gay friend and a bit younger than me so I am very protective of him. The strength of our friendship was solidified earlier this year when we were publicly harassed on the subway during a delay. None of the other passengers intervened, so the situation escalated to the point where we were violently threatened with with a large, metal snow shovel. When the train car doors finally opened, Alex and I ran out together and kept running for blocks. We've been good friends ever since. What does NYC Pride represent to you? In the aftermath of Orlando and the overturn of DOMA, Pride provides an opportunity for fellow members of the LGBT community to celebrate our identities and demonstrate our ability as a demographic to continually overcome, even in the face of great tragedy, to be ourselves, to love who we love. As a visibly gay person, I can never shake the anticipation of harassment or judgement, but during Pride I can finally put those fears aside.

      Name: Owen Zane. Age: 14 Where are you from? NYC. What do you do? I'm going to be a high school student in the fall, I also act professionally. Is there a sexuality you identify with? Bisexual. Who are you having your portrait taken with? Timothy S. What's your relationship to them? Timothy and I are close friends. What does NYC Pride represent to you? To me, Pride represents an evolving society that is beginning to accept different individuals for who they are. What changes would you like to see in the world? More acceptance. WORLD PEACE! What makes you proud? I'm proud to be able to say I truly know who I am.

      Name: Timothy Smith. Age: 16. Where are you from? New York, born and raised. What do you do? I take photos and hang out with my friends. Is there a sexuality you identify with? I identify as gay but I feel the word "gay" has become such a negative term because people use it to describe things that are bad by saying, "that's gay." Who are you having your portrait taken with? Owen. What's your relationship to them? We're really good friends; we both identify in the LGBT community. What does NYC Pride represent to you? Pride represents a day for everyone to step out of their comfort zone and truly be themselves. What makes you proud? I'm proud to see people in love, and to be able to wake up everyday and know who I am!

      Name: Garison Partusch. Where are you from? San Angelo, Texas. What do you do? I am an actor, an artist, a performer, and I host parties. Is there a gender you identify with? Trans Femme. Who are you having your portrait taken with? Ang Rand. What's your relationship to them? Twin/housemate. What does NYC Pride represent to you? An opportunity for the queer community to gather in order to love, celebrate, and show the world that we deserve equality just as much as everyone else does. It's a definite way to bring about a sense of camaraderie that many LGBTQ+ people don't always feel. What are some of the biggest issues facing young Americans today? Honestly, just straight up ignorance. Ignorance towards people of color, ignorance towards trans/non­binary/gender nonconforming people, ignorance towards queerness, ignorance towards women. What makes you proud? When I see all the beautiful members of the LGBTQ+ community making changes, accomplishments, and forward progress in the world. But also when I put together a look that could either pop or flop and it pops.

      Name: Ang Rand. Where are you from? London/East Village. What do you do? I'm a student, writer, and textile artist. Is there a sexuality you identify with? Queer. Who are you having your portrait taken with? Garison. What's your relationship to them? She's my flatmate/close friend/glowing orb. What changes would you like to see in the world? I'd like for everyone to stop harassing gender nonconforming people literally all the time, particularly transfeminine people, particularly transfeminine people of color. Make public spaces safe for everyone! Also I want everyone to stop denying themselves queer experiences in 2016. What does love mean in 2016? Openness, communication, and trust. What makes you proud? Everyone who is different without questioning it.

      Name: Simon Lieber. Age: 14. Where are you from? Brooklyn. What do you do? Student. Is there a gender you identify with? Male. Is there a sexuality you identify with? Gay. Who are you having your portrait taken with? Jonas Bardin. What's your relationship to them? Close friend. What does NYC Pride represent to you? Freedom and an example of acceptance. What are some of the biggest issues facing young Americans today? Ignorance. What changes would you like to see in the world? Environmental realizations. What does love mean in 2016? When you are truly at peace with yourself or someone else. 

      NameJonas Bardin. Age: 15. Where are you from? New York City. What do you do? Although I am only in high school, I am working on pursuing fashion design. Is there a sexuality you identify with? As of right now I identify as gay. Who are you having your portrait taken with? One of my closest friends, Simon. What does NYC Pride represent to you? NYC Pride represents a sense of solidarity and acceptance. Pride teaches people to love themselves, a task that can be really difficult alone. What changes would you like to see in the world? I would like to see a general attitude shift in the way people treat difference. It is nothing to be ashamed of, and the act of not talking about difference condones oppression. Every day should feel like Pride.

      Name: Savannah. Age: 20. Where are you from? New York City. What do you do? Artist. Is there a gender you identify with? Female. Is there a sexuality you identify with? Queer. Who are you having your portrait taken with? Tierra. What's your relationship to them? We've been seeing each other for a month. What does NYC Pride represent to you? Pride means being able to love whoever you want, identify however you feel, and not have to change yourself for anyone. What changes would you like to see in the world? There are so many ways that people try to undermine being a queer/lesbian woman — constantly looking at gay women as a trend or making it seem like a phase. What makes you proud? Being able to surround myself with all of my queer friends; they're so supportive and make me happy be around. 

      Name: Tierra Ouellette. Age: 22. What do you do? I run a small literary and visual arts publication called Softies, which showcases the creative expression and liberation of women, trans, and genderqueer people. I also write poetry things! Is there a gender you identify with? I use she/her pronouns. Is there a sexuality you identify with? I'm v queer. Who are you having your portrait taken with? Savannah! She's great. We met a few weeks ago and have been hanging out/ smooching on the regular ;) What does NYC Pride represent to you? QUEER LIBERATION and having beautiful people come out and together and reclaim pride and queerness from the corporate Pride shenanigans that generally aren't inclusive of all queer/trans people. What does love mean in 2016? Loving yourself. 

      Name: Richard Kearse. Age: 19. Where are you from? The Bronx. What do you do? I work a 9 to 5 job, attend college, and model on the side. Is there a gender you identify with? Male. Who are you having your portrait taken with? Joy. What's your relationship to them? Very close friends. What does NYC Pride represent to you? A bunch of people gathering together just enjoying themselves. What changes would you like to see in the world? Everyone getting along financially, more job opportunities, and people getting with along with one another. What makes you proud? Helping others and not only growing as an individual, but as a unit.

      Name: Joy Taira. Age: 19. Where are you from? Taoyuan, Taiwan. What do you do? I'm studying Economics at NYU and I work for Acne Studios. I also help out with Mayan and Julia's baby, Me and You. Is there a sexuality you identify with? Not entirely; I guess the closest would be bisexual. I like who I like, you know? Who are you having your portrait taken with? My angel, Rich! What's your relationship to them? I just know I enjoy his presence and like being around him. What does love mean in 2016? There's many different types of love and relationships, but I think what they all have in common is a sense of respect and acceptance. What makes you proud? I'm proud when I see my friends succeed!

      Name: Sussi. Where are you from? New York via Los Angeles, Toronto, and Boston. What do you do? Artist, Nightlife creature. Is there a gender you identify with? Anything and everything; all at once. Who are you having your portrait taken with? My boyfriend Harry. What's your relationship to them? The one who makes me smile everyday — someone I couldn't imagine my life without. What changes would you like to see in the world? Media needs to stop using fear tactics to get us to listen. We are only told the negative, which is why it's so hard for some people to find the love and positivity. I will gladly swing my flag if I know I'm not going to be labeled like some kind of alien. We are all flesh and bones; I just happen to decorate mine a little more. What does love mean in 2016? Volume. The verb of love has traveled through decades but it's now come to a time where we have gotten so used to preaching it. We have to run with it. Stand your ground own your truth.

      Name: Harry Charlesworth. Where are you from? I've lived in the NYC area my whole life. What do you do? Artist. Is there a gender you identify with? If gender is a spectrum, then I'm a rainbow. Who are you having your portrait taken with? My boyfriend Sussi. What's your relationship to them? My soulmate. I met him while we were in the basement of our favorite club, and we haven't stopped partying since. What does NYC Pride represent to you? This year more than any other I am inspired to be as colorful and as loud about my identity as possible, to show others that being unconditionally true to who you are is the most powerful weapon we have against our oppressors. What are some of the biggest issues facing young Americans today? America's youth is brimming with creativity, intelligence, and empathy, however many are disheartened from following their paths because it has become so hard to be acknowledged or have our voices heard. What changes would you like to see in the world? I'd like to see everyone in the world wear a little more glitter and be a whole lot nicer to one another. 

      Name: Nasir aka Eustace. Age: 19. What do you do? I'm an artist involved in painting, music production, and clothing. Who are you taking your portrait with? My soulmate. But not in no corny stereotype way; whether we're together or not, that love will just be there. What is love in 2016? Love in 2016 is low key, key! Our generation is unsure about a lot of things, and being sure her love is unconditional somehow makes things easier.

      Name: Taylor Coward. Age: 17. Who are you having your portrait taken with? The love of my life. What's your relationship to them? He's my soulmate. Not in that super generic way. He's actually my soulmate. His name is Nasir. Nasir's my soulmate and it's lit. What changes would I like to see in the world? I want everyone to just be cool with EACH OTHER. 

      Name: Olive. Age:15. Where are you from?Brooklyn, NY. What do you do?I'm a high school student but I also write music. Is there a gender you identify with?Female. Who are you having your portrait taken with? Sofia. What's your relationship to them? She's my best friend! What does NYC Pride represent to you? Being able to be proud of who you are. What changes would you like to see in the world? As cheesy as it is to say, tolerance. We live in a world that is so quick to assign prejudice to people based on how they look or identify. For too many people, it's easier to just be ignorant than to take the time to understand the complexity of the human race. That's really what's at the core of bigotry. What does love mean in 2016? Caring about someone enough that you can put their needs first. What makes you proud? I'm so proud to live in such an accepting city. 

      Name: Sofia Zarzuela. Age: 15. Where are you from? Brooklyn, New York. What do you do? I'm in high school and I'm a songwriter. Is there a sexuality you identify with? No. Who are you having your portrait taken with? My best friend, Olive. What does NYC Pride represent to you? I don't, nor am I likely to ever, know the exact label for my sexuality, but I'm very thankful to have grown up in an environment where I have been encouraged to like who like. While I know that not everybody has this privilege, I hope that this somewhat "New York" value will spread. What changes would you like to see in the world? Women being taken seriously in art, in politics, at dinner parties, and everything in between. I hope to be a part of a generation that teaches their children to be open, accepting, and happy with who they are. What makes you proud? I'm half Latina, and I'm full of love for my Dominican/Puerto Rican roots. More than anything, though, I'm proud of the strength of queer youth, along with youth of color, because we hold our own in a world that is always trying to write their own stories for us and keep us silent.

      Name: Gala Tombal Prudent. Age: 17. Where are you from? I'm a native New Yorker. What do you do? I am an artist, high school student, and editorial intern. Is there a gender you identify with? I identify as female. Who are you having your portrait taken with? I am having my portrait taken with Jada-Renee, one of my closest friends. What does NYC Pride represent to you? To me, NYC Pride represents a safe and supportive space for anyone to fully and openly be themselves. Because I am not a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I think it is important that I (and those who share my privilege) understand that Pride is not a day for me, but a day to celebrate the strength and beauty of the LGBTQ+ community. What changes would you like to see in the world? I would love to see improvements in education in the United States. I think everyone deserves access to a good education, and especially education about sex, love, and identity. What makes you proud? Speaking up and seeing others do the same makes me proud.

      @thisismayan

      Credits

      Photography Mayan Toledano

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      Topics:pride, new york, mayan toledano, photography, nyc pride, nyc pride 2016, culture, straight up, straight ups

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