During my adolescence, I experienced so much speculation in myself; constant self-doubt, self-hatred and constantly questioned who I was. Those speculations were based on many different factors; social class, race, religion, identity, pop culture and bi-culturalism. As a second-generation American raised in New York City by an Ecuadorian mother and Peruvian father, I had to construct my own identity around my parent’s set of ideals, morals and standards and that of the world around me. My own interests, my own agenda, my own version of myself was shaped by american culture, the internet and religion. When I recall certain feelings and pleasures that I had in my younger years, I always remember that I was different from other boys. I was five years old when Britney Spears’ Baby One More Time album came out. I remember begging my father to buy me the cassette tape and blasting it in the car that same day. He didn't think much about my fascination with Britney Spears since he didn't follow pop culture or know English that well. I remember wanting to grow my hair out and my mother making me cut it because ‘only girls wore long hair’. I remember my grandma asking me why I wore skinny jeans and my uncle asking why I didn't have a girlfriend. I remember my brother taking me to get my lip pierced when I was twelve and coming home almost being ripped to shreds by my mother.
When I was fifteen years old my mother found a flyer underneath my bed next to my skateboard for this local LGBT youth center that I was secretly going to. My conscious instinct was to deny it, but eventually after her consistent questioning, I told her it was mine. Her cliché response was “You are too young to know what you want” and this resulted in her taking me to therapy for two weeks, where I constantly questioned my state of mind and identity. We didn't tell my dad nor anyone else in the family and to be honest till this day I haven't spoken to him about me. I think after this is published there is going to be a lot of questions he will have, but I am finally at a place where I am proud of who I am and ready to face this. But going back to when I was fifteen and having the realisation that I couldn’t just ‘pray the gay away’ at my church youth group, it took a big toll on me as a teenager. I lived in fear of being rejected by my community and my family. I felt alone, like I couldn’t tell anyone how I was feeling. I lived in silence. My decision to make this my senior-thesis did not stem from anger nor sadness but rather empowerment. These images are a reminder of a former-self. They have gave me the chance to express how I used to feel, without words; just pure imagery. This is how I communicate best; by visually expressing my inner state. Certain photographs do bring back certain memories such as the photograph of the two boys on the floor next to a football. This image evokes pressure, anxiety and fear. Proving your masculinity often depends on many factors, a big one being sports. My friends would often play football and I would often feel anxious because I hid the fact that I hated it, it drove me crazy. So to answer your question, yes, these photographs do evoke many emotions, and essentially trigger memories rooted from sadness, but now I look at them as a past state of mind.