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Public eye: Camila Gaitan, 18
Photograph: Allison Michael Oren Public eye: Camila Gaitan, 18

Public eye: Camila Gaitan, 18

New York street interviews: Stories from the sidewalk as told by real New Yorkers about their lives in the city that never sleeps.

By Kate Lowenstein
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Public plaza between Sixth and Seventh Aves, between 48th and 49th Sts

Watch out you don’t get shot in the face. Oh man, I know. This is just for a school project. We were supposed to create performance art out of a current event and make it go viral. We thought, What’s more controversial than gay rights?

Who knew it would still be controversial in New York City in 2013? It’s true. We’ve been getting both good and bad reactions. At one point we got into an argument with some guys who didn’t like our signs. We got a lot of dirty looks. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, I guess. To each his own.

So you’re not trying to change any minds? I’m not. We have to respect that some people won’t change. We’re just trying to raise awareness. If you do put your view out there, there’s always someone who is going to go against it.

Until they realize their views are wrong. [Laughs] Right. In the future—hopefully soon—we’ll look back at this and say, What were we thinking? It’s sort of like when slavery was okay and now we’re like, What was wrong with people back then?

Where do you go to school? I’m finishing my freshman year at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Is criminal justice in your career future? Maybe; my major is forensic psychology. I’m really interested in what motivates criminals. When I was in high school I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, but then I joined the mock trial team and realized it was kind of boring.

I think a lot of lawyers might agree with you. I didn’t know about all the rules you had to follow. So I took forensic psychology. We’re learning about things that, say, a serial killer does at a crime scene which could lead to identifying the person.

Does CSI have anything to do with your new passion? [Laughs] I actually don’t watch all those shows, but I do watch Law & Order, and that inspired me.

How’s your first year of college shaping up? I love college. I get to go out, wear a sign and get a grade for it.

More from Valerie

“Just because I’m straight doesn’t mean I shouldn’t support gay rights.”

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