See the Photo That Inspired the Internet to Rally Around a Gay Youth

A ‘Humans of New York’ post generated a flood of positive messages, including one from Hillary Clinton.
(Photo: 'Humans of New York'/Facebook)
Jul 6, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Jennifer Swann is TakePart’s culture and lifestyle reporter.

Rainbows and same-sex wedding photos have been used on social media to express support for gay rights, but a new Facebook photo of a little boy speaks volumes about the challenges facing LGBT people from a young age.

An image of a weepy-eyed boy with his hand pressed to his forehead in despair was posted to Facebook on Friday with this caption: “I’m homosexual and I’m afraid about what my future will be and that people won’t like me.”

The moment was captured by photographer Brandon Stanton as part of his ongoing project Humans of New York, which has been documenting the stories and images of New Yorkers since 2010. Messages of support and acceptance flooded the comments section of the Facebook post, which was liked more than 602,000 times and shared by more than 56,000 users.

One high-profile supporter even offered a hopeful prediction. “Your future is going to be amazing. You will surprise yourself with what you’re capable of and the incredible things you go on to do,” read a comment signed with the initial H. It was posted from Hillary Clinton’s campaign page. “Find the people who love and believe in you—there will be lots of them,” it read.

So, Why Should You Care? Clinton’s note echoed the inspirational message behind the youth advocacy project It Gets Better, which aims to show LGBT kids and teenagers images and stories from happy, successful LGBT adults as a reminder that life often gets better after surviving one’s teenage years. Clinton’s Facebook comment might be seen as a publicity effort for her 2016 campaign, which spotlights gay rights as a key issue, but it also helps spread an important message to LGBT youths: It’s OK to be yourself.

Consider that nearly half of LGBT youths in America say the community they live in isn’t accepting of LGBT people, according to a 2012 survey by Human Rights Campaign. LGBT youths are twice as likely as their peers to report being targeted by violence at school, and roughly a quarter of LGBT youths cite bullying and harassment as their biggest problem, along with a fear of expressing their true identity and not feeling accepted by their families.

It’s not the first time Humans of New York has brought out the Internet’s good-natured side. Earlier this year, a photo of a Brooklyn sixth grader inspired a crowdfunding campaign that raised more than $1.4 million to send disadvantaged students on a field trip to Harvard.