PROJECTS: Out in the Hood: Teddy Ebony as Young Gay Man
On the day President Obama made his historic announcement in support of same-sex marriage, Tavaris "Teddy" Edwards turned 22 years old. Though the country struggles over the controversy and difficulty of social change, being gay might be the easiest part of Teddy's life.
While often conflicted with his identity and direction, he's comfortable with his sexuality. Ironically, that one trait may be what saves him. He describes his life before coming out as "devious." "I wanted to be somebody I wasn't." He got into fights and dropped out of Oscar Smith high school. Many of his straight friends from back then are now dead or in prison.
Role models have been hard to come by. His father was killed when Teddy was 2. His stepfather is serving a prison sentence. He has the words "RIP" and "PIG" tattooed to the back of his hands which serve as a memorial to his uncle who died in 2003. In many ways, Teddy's struggles reflect issues our country has yet to solve.
Teddy lives with his mother and sister in public housing in Chesapeake, Virginia. It's a place he wants to leave, but finding his way out is not going to be easy.