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StoryCorps Stonewall OutLoud initiative includes Chicago LGBTQ elders
2019-06-24

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As Pride Celebrations Nationwide Mark the Anniversary, StoryCorps Provides an Opportunity for One-on-One Reflection on the Impact of the 1969 Uprising, and a Chance to Preserve These Stories Before They Are Lost to History

StoryCorps, the groundbreaking effort to document the American story, which has given 500,000 Americans across all 50 states the chance to record conversations about their lives and preserve them for future generations, continues Stonewall OutLoud, a participatory initiative to gather the stories of LGBTQ elders before they are lost to history.

Since launching in May, the Stonewall OutLoud initiative has partnered with numerous LGBTQ+ organizations and collected the stories from dozens of individuals, including:

In Chicago, Karen Morris, a cultural anthropologist and educator, recorded 11 Stonewall OutLoud interviews and has encouraged several other folks to record stories on their own. Notably, Karen organized a memorable recording day at Town Hall Apartments, Chicago's first LGBTQ-friendly senior housing complex, and brought six of her LGBTQ-identifying students to interview six of the older residents.

In Shreveport, Louisiana, Deborah Allen, an LGBTQ+ civil rights leader in Shreveport and the surrounding areas, organized a community event at the local library to train residents on using the StoryCorps App, recruited older LGBTQ Louisianans to tell their stories and younger LGBTQ residents to interview them, gave presentations at local churches and youth groups, and started an active Facebook group for residents to ask questions and share their recordings. Deborah estimates that these efforts will result in more than 100 interviews recorded in Shreveport-Bossier City. She has already conducted several interviews herself, including one with her chosen granddaughter, Kami, who made headlines last year for standing up to her principal after he tried to prevent her from dressing in the clothes that aligned with her gender identity.

In Anchorage, Alaska, the practicum student at Identity Alaska, a statewide non-profit founded in 1977, worked with the local SAGE ( Services and Advocacy for Gay Elders ) chapter to pair four young LGBTQ+ people with four elders in the community to record their stories.

In Des Moines, IA, Dennis and Judy Shephard, parents of Matthew Shepard, and leaders of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, recorded a special conversation to remember their son and the ways that the gay rights movement has progressed in the 20 years since his murder.

Stonewall OutLoud will continue to reach deep into LGBTQ communities across the country to ensure that as wide a collection of voices as possible are recorded and preserved. With special emphasis given to rural communities, communities of color, and transgender elders, the initiative seeks to connect older and younger generations through the powerful StoryCorps interview experience, preserve these stories for the future, and share the voices of the LGBTQ community with a broad general audience through educational and broadcast partnerships. ��Individuals and organizations can pledge to take part at storycorps.org/outloud

StoryCorps joins a coalition of partners on this project, including SAGE, the National LGBTQ Task Force, Griot Circle, and GLSEN, with other partners.

The Stonewall OutLoud initiative has been recognized by PBS, OUT, The Advocate, Logo's NewNowNext, the Philadelphia Inquirer and more.

SAGE, the organization dedicated to advocacy and services for LGBT elders, reports that there are currently around 3 million LGBTQ adults over age 50, a figure that is expected to rise to nearly 7 million by 2030. Of them, nearly 60 percent report feeling a lack of companionship, half feel a sense of isolation from others, and two in five feel disconnected or even unwelcome by the younger LGBTQ community. The anniversary of Stonewall provides a singular opportunity for young people to honor the lives of elders in this community, and to document and preserve the experiences and insights of this generation.

Dave Isay, President and Founder of StoryCorps said: "From now through the end of 2019, we're asking the country to honor an LGBTQ elder with an interview and preserve this part of our history about which so little information exists. In the spirit of the Shoah project, which documented the stories of every living Holocaust survivor, and Maya Angelou's stirring words, 'History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again,' we hope that Stonewall OutLoud will be a beautiful, loving celebration of LGBTQ elders on this historic anniversary."

Stonewall OutLoud builds upon StoryCorps' long-standing commitment to record the powerful, varied experiences of LGBTQ people. Isay's first documentary for public radio,15 years before he founded StoryCorps, was Remembering Stonewall. Broadcast on NPR in 1989, the project was the first-ever documentary on the seminal 1969 events. Remembering Stonewall wove together in audio first-person accounts of those who fought during the uprising—and seeded the foundational ideas behind StoryCorps: the beauty, courage, and poetry we can find in the voices of everyday people when we take the time to listen, and the importance of honoring the stories of those who may feel least heard.

Major support of StoryCorps and Stonewall OutLoud is provided by Lyft and YouTube Originals.

Philanthropic support from David Bohnett Foundation.

The StoryCorps App enables anyone, anywhere to record conversations with another person for archiving at the Library of Congress. The app guides users through the interview experience, from recording to archiving to sharing their stories with the world. It provides easy-to-�use tools to help people prepare interview questions; record high-�quality conversations on their mobile devices; and upload the audio to the archive.storycorps.org website which serves as a home for these recordings and also provides interview and editing resources.

About StoryCorps

Founded in 2003, StoryCorps has given people of all backgrounds and beliefs, in thousands of towns and cities in all 50 states—the chance to record interviews about their lives. The organization preserves the recordings in its special StoryCorps archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, the largest single collection of human voices ever gathered, and shares select stories with the public through StoryCorps' podcast, NPR broadcasts, animated shorts, digital platforms, and best-selling books. These powerful human stories reflect the vast range of American experiences, wisdom and values; engender empathy and connection; and remind us how much more we have in common than divides us.

StoryCorps is working to grow into an enduring national institution that fosters a culture of listening in the United States; celebrates the dignity, power and grace that can be heard in the stories we find all around us; and helps us recognize that every life and every story matter equally. In the coming years StoryCorps hopes to touch the lives of every American family.

About SAGE

SAGE is the world's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT older people. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBT older people and their caregivers. SAGE also advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT elders, provides education and technical assistance for aging providers and LGBT community organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, and cultural competency training through SAGECare. With staff located across the country, SAGE also coordinates SAGENet, a growing network of affiliates in the United States. Learn more at sageusa.org .

About National LGBTQ Task Force

The National LGBTQ Task Force advances full freedom, justice, and equality for LGBTQ people.

We're building a future where everyone is free to be themselves in every aspect of their lives. Today, despite all the progress we've made to end discrimination, millions of LGBTQ people face barriers in every aspect of their lives: in housing, employment, healthcare, retirement, and basic human rights. These barriers must go. That's why the Task Force is training and mobilizing millions of activists across our nation to deliver a world where you can be you.

About Griot Circle

GRIOT Circle is an advocacy and service organization committed to the dignity, well-being, and quality of life of LGBTQ people of color as we age. GRIOT is committed to honoring and preserving our histories and traditions while reuniting those parts of ourselves that have been fragmented by racism and homophobia.

About GLSEN

GLSEN works to create safe and inclusive schools for all. We envision a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression. Each year, GLSEN programs and resources reach millions of students and educators in K-12 schools, via action at the national, state, and local level. Over nearly three decades of work, GLSEN has improved conditions for LGBTQ students across the United States and launched an international movement to address LGBTQ issues in education and promote respect for all in schools. Find more information on GLSEN's policy advocacy, student leadership initiatives, school-based programs, research, and professional development for educators at www.glsen.org .

—From a press release


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