National nonprofit to feature Oklahoma LGBTQ youth in photography project

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OKLAHOMA CITY – “I remember being told, at the age of 13, that I was going to be fixed by God.”

College student Andrew Hedges, 21, went to conversion therapy at a young age.

Born female but transitioned to male, Hedges said he was depressed and suicidal.

“When I was 13, I had roughly, I couldn’t even tell you, probably more than two hands of suicide attempts because of it,” he said.

And, Hedges is not alone.

The CDC reports more than 40 percent of queer youth have seriously considered dying by suicide, compared to 15 percent of heterosexual youth.

NorthCare started a social support group for youth and teens a couple of years ago called Q Space.

“Understanding where they are within their sexual identification and… be able to talk about those things without judgement,” said Kris Williams, NorthCare coordinator.

California-based nonprofit ‘Project Contrast’ reached out to NorthCare, wanting to share Oklahoma’s LGBTQ youth community’s stories.

“I decided to go back to my home state and create this photo project due to the high suicide rates in Utah,” said Maxwell Poth, Project Contrast founder.

In Utah, two youths are treated for suicide attempts every day.

Many of the stories shared around the country will get published in a book.

“They have a platform that they can use now, and share their stories and say, hey, I’m just like you, but I’m over here,” Poth said.

Many youths involved with Q Space plan to be there, including Hedges who’s ready to share his journey.

“The fact of keeping an open dialogue and how important it is to share your stories because, without that, you know that closes the history books,” he said.

If you’d like to be a part of Project Contrast, they’ll be at the Ambassador Hotel from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. It’s come and go, so feel free to just show up.

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