This is a reminder on how you can add your story to the #AMPLIFY project.
Who Can Contribute a Story? We are looking for LGBTQ identified folks, 18 and above who have ties to Western Pennsylvania. Ties can be the you grew up here, you attended college or graduate school here, you worked here for a few years, you visited your grandparents every summer, or you live here now.
Why Are You Doing This? We think LGBTQ folks should control the narrative of our experiences. This approach allows literally everyone in the community to have an equal say in describing LGBTQ life in the late 20th and early 21st century in this region. Unlike video or live storytelling projects (both are important, too!), a blog allows for a degree of anonymity or privacy if desired. It also makes the contributor the editor, right down to the typos and spelling. We cannot be erased now because we have 225 blog posts detailing the complicated, sometimes conflicting realities of our experiences. This is about visibility, self-autonomy, and leveling the playing field.
How Many Stories Are You Archiving? It is the Internet! There is literally no limit on how many stories we would like to add to the digital archive. Western Pennsylvania has about 4 million residents. If you assume 2-5% of the population are LGBTQ, that’s 80,000-200,000 people who are eligible to contribute.
What Types of Stories Are Eligible? If you meet the criteria, your story is eligible. You can be as detailed or succinct as you like. Your perspective is important because you are part of this community, not because of any other criteria. Just saying “I’m here, I’m gay/bi/queer/trans/etc” is important.
Note: Trust me, even if you think your story is routine, mundane and lacking any dramatic conflict, it matters. People deserve to know that there are LGBTQ adults who have family support and feel comfortable in their skin. People deserve to know that we can have happy, typical lives. If it makes you feel better, your post also helps raise the visibility of other posts with similar tags because of the magic of online algorithms.
Define Western Pennsylvania: We include 26 counties for this project. You can find the list here.
Can I Use a Pseudonym? Yes, you can. You will have to disclose your identity to the project coordinators, but you can use whatever name you like. Some people choose the term “Anonymous” to make a point about silencing and erasure. Others use a nickname or initials or a completely made up name.
Are Photos Mandatory? No, they are not. You can submit a photo of yourself (no group shots, please) or an image to represent you.
I Have Feelings About Some Of These Questions, Do I Have To Answer Everything? Nope, you can answer whatever you feel comfortable answering. You can even go off in a new direction with a question.
Do You Have Any Guidelines? You can say what you like with just a few limits. It is your story. We will not publish libel/defamation, but we’ll contact you if that’s a concern. We also will not publish slurs targeting other people. If you have reclaimed a slur or want to use it in the context of an anecdote or story, that’s fine. And, if we have concerns that answers are triggering, we may add a content note. An example might be a contributor describing being assaulted or coping with suicidal ideations. If you want to use strong language, that’s fine. No slurs, no slander and we should be good.
How Long Does the Q&A Take To Complete? We estimate about 30 minutes. It all depends on how much you want to share and how much editing you do. It is probably a little easier to do it on your PC so you can leave the tab/window open versus using your phone, but it’s up to you.
What If I Change My Mind? Just reach out to us and we will take your Q&A off the website.
Can I Share My Story, But Not See My Post All Over Social Media? As of now, no. It is a blog post, so the point is for it to be shared and read. We can’t control that aspect. There is no dedicated LGBTQ Archive in this region which is something we hope will change.
Note: I suggest you not use a photo if this is a concern. Sometimes, that can alleviate anxiety about seeing yourself on social media.
What Are You Going to DO With This Archive? The plan is to keep the blog online for the short and medium term. We are working with an archivist and a digital team to preserve the original components for long-term use. At some point, everything will go to a formal archive, but we’ll be in touch with you privately to discuss that. No archive has been identified as of now.
Also, we’ll be working with a social science person to crunch the numbers and make the data we’ve collected accessible to organizations. For example, almost every single person has identified statewide non-discrimination protections as a priority. That’s pretty much the only thing upon which there is almost universal consensus, even from folks who have not experienced discrimination personally.
How Are You Paying For This? Mostly through donations. We have received some grants and are applying for more. A lot of expenses are covered by the Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents team from their own resources.
How Do I Complete the Q&A? You can go to our online form and complete it. If you need a document version, contact us by email and we’ll send it to you.
Looking forward to reading your contribution!
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