After decades of legal battles, gay and lesbian couples were granted the constitutional right to marry in all 50 states in June 2015; one year after that, a gunman opened fire on a gay nightclub in downtown Orlando, killing 49 people.

Despite the tragedy in Orlando, members of the LGBTQ community enjoy more rights and public acceptance than ever before. AIDS is no longer a death sentence and pride parades are held in every major U.S. city. For the first time, a majority of Americans (55%) support gay marriage, according to the Pew Research Center.

The following piece is a multi-part journey through the hardships of a gay black man, a transgender woman and a bisexual woman living in New York City in 2017, all of whom currently attend or once attended New York University. The photographer, Jesús Ian Kumamoto, followed each as they went about their lives and asked them what it truly means to be queer in 21st-century America. The black-and-white format of the photography attempts to capture the raw essence of the subjects’ emotions.

Although these are young LGBTQ New Yorkers finding their bearings among the chaos of youth and city life, their experiences differ vastly. What they have in common, however, is overwhelming: they all feel, in one way or another, forgotten by their own community and the larger discourse on LGBTQ people.

Victor Leonard: Black and ‘Unwanted’

 

Alex Hoffman: Transgender, but Human First

 

Patty Boutin: Bisexual, but Not Your Sex Toy

 

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