The current generation of queer young people has a lot to teach us about what it means to be fully human—if only we will listen.
I’ve been fortunate as co-founder of The Trevor Project to be on the front lines of change as several generations of young people have come of age. But in 2016 as I was traveling the country with my solo show, I began to notice something different about this current generation of LGBTQ+ youth and their allies. For starters, they were incredibly well informed about the world and could thoughtfully discuss important issues such as politics, climate crisis, racism, homophobia and capitalism. They had a social justice component that I’d never seen in any previous generation, and what made it even more impressive was the fact that their awareness extended beyond the reach of the LGBTQ+ community. Their insistence on diversity and inclusion was absolute and included everyone. They’ve also grown up with the Internet, making them the first generation to live a life with the answers literally at their fingertips. But most remarkable to me was how they were changing what it meant to be LGBTQ+. Just as my generation had fought so hard for the right to be ourselves as out gays and lesbians, this generation is fighting to be recognized and respected as the people they knew themselves to be. In a recent study, The Trevor Project revealed that more than one in five LGBTQ youth in the United States identify as a sexual orientation other than gay, lesbian or bisexual. It is a whole new world in which LGBTQ youth are using terms like “queer, trisexual, omnisexual or pansexual” to describe their identity. This made me wonder if perhaps young people today were living in a future that hadn’t yet arrived. Just as I once felt out of sync with the times in which I lived, perhaps these 14, 15, 16, 17-year-olds were a step ahead of the world around them.
In early 2017, I teamed up with singer-songwriter, Ryan Amador and together we set out to travel the country and find out if this generational shift was happening everywhere. We called ourselves The Future Perfect Project and devised a program that involved visiting high schools and LGBTQ+ Youth Centers and providing youth with a safe space to engage in creative writing and performance. When possible, we facilitated a live performance for a larger community audience in an effort to help queer, trans and allied youth become more safe, seen and celebrated.
It seems the world is never quite ready to know what a younger generation sees or feels, but change happens when young people begin to age-up and make the future happen. The Future Perfect Project is providing this new next generation of LGBT and Questioning young people with the tools to tell us what they know, what they feel and what they see: and what they see is a future in which every person gets to be perfectly and fully themselves.
—James Lecesne, Executive Director, The Future Perfect Project