Let’s start with the “HOW” to share your story.

This project uses an online Google form as our Q&A. So you simply go to the form and begin filling out your responses. Important to note – if you click away from the form, everything will be lost. So finish your responses before you follow any links. And we strongly suggest using a computer versus a phone so you can open a tab for the form and leave it open while you work on the responses.

We do have a document version of the Q&A – you can download the document, add your responses, and then email the finished product to pghlesbian at gmail dot com. If you see yourself needing a few sessions to complete the Q&A, this is another good option.

The “WHY” to share your story is also important.

“I thought I was the only one”

is something our readers often share with us when commenting on a specific Q&A. The intersection of their identities, their geographic location, and their access (or lack of access) to local supports can often be found in someone else’s Q&A. And knowing that someone else has had a similar experience in their small town/rural community/college/family of origin/faith community/workplace should not be underestimated. You are not alone.

“I never read about people like me in LGBT media”

is another frequent comment.  #AMPLIFY is about our everyday experiences, not big moments that generate media attention.  We allow people degrees of anonymity so we can share stories that are often not accessible in mainstream media, especially stories from people who are not fully out or don’t feel like they have anything historical to share. Your existence in all its complexities and nuances is the story here. So you are going to read about more bisexual folks, more people in the closet, more people who came to Pittsburgh for acceptance and more who find a way to create acceptance in their existing community. You will find realness here that can never translate to the screen or stage.

“There’s nothing special or interesting about my story

is another oft repeated phrase. One the one hand we have people whose coming out was smooth, who have a social circle, financial stability, a relationship, etc. They don’t have a dramatic story to share (in their own minds) and feel too typical to contribute. We need more stories of people leading typical lives who happen to be LGBTQ. We need to know that it is possible to hit these benchmarks, not because they make us normal but because they are options we should have if we want them. The more smooth coming out stories we publish, the more they can be shared with other families to help them do better when their young (or older) child comes out.

On the other hand, we have folks who are insecure about their credibility because they are not heavily engaged in the LGBTQ community. They are questioning or they are curious, they cannot safely attend events or activities, they are constrained by their different abilities or financial constraints or family commitments. To these folks, I want to say – you do not have to be the queen of the pride march to be a valued and important member of the LGBTQ community. Your experiences are authentic and valid and worth documenting, too.

One point of the archive is to illustrate the representative experiences of being LGBTQ in this era in this region. That includes your story, no matter who you are or where you are in your journey.

“I don’t have the time” 

is something I hear a lot. The Q&A does take about 30 minutes of your time. Obviously, I think it is a worthwhile investment and should be on your schedule. When I read your social media comments about people not taking the time to attend events or donate to LGBTQ organizations or to vote or to stay informed about the news or to reach out IRL to other LGBTQ folks, I wonder if you hear yourself telling me that you don’t have the time to do this. I also wonder if you realize this is a forum to express those sentiments about events and art and politics and have them enshrined in an archive. You can include links and I can attest that people click those links. So put on your favorite streaming album or netflix show and take the time to share your story – make the time.

“I don’t want to take away a slot from another LGBTQ person

is a concern some people voice. There is no limit to how many Q&A’s we publish. The size of our database is massive – we could publish 100,000 Q&A’s without a problem. This is not a finite resource that you need to preserve for someone more worthy or more in need. In fact, your story will draw more attention to the other stories through the interwebs magic of keywords, tags, categories, referrals, rabbit holes and so forth. Sharing your story creates more opportunities for other LGBTQ folks. Not sharing your story has a null effect.

“I have started and stopped the Q&A several times because my responses change”

is another comment. I get this one, I do. As a blogger when I look back at posts I wrote ten years ago or longer, I shake my head. But I know it was an authentic description of where I was and who I was at that point in time. This is why we added an #AMPLIFY update option – at certain points each year, we will publish updated Q&As that will be tagged to your original responses.

Does anyone read these Q&A’s? 

Yes. But the point is not just to get clicks. The point is that the act of sharing your story as an LGBTQ person in a society that still devalues and dismisses most of us is RADICAL. You are claiming space for your story. You are claiming space for our shared history. You are creating change by the act of describing your life experiences. Storytelling is Solidarity.

But know that people do read the Q&As. I won’t ever publish anything like a “top ten most popular Q&A” list because that’s not what we are about. I will tell you that nearly every week someone stops me to share something they read in the archive that resonated with them. I will tell you that we have plans to use more zines and sociological number crunching and more advanced web tools to make the archive even more accessible.

One reason I wove the Q&A’s into my regular blog content was to avoid the archive becoming static. When someone comes to my site to read a post about a transgender story, they will be prompted to read other posts including Q&A’s from transgender contributors. And so forth. The archive is dynamic both because of new contributions and because the other content I create signal boosts the Q&As every single day.

I’m not a big fan of this blog/blogger

Fair enough. The blog and blogger are part and parcel with the archive, but upon completion – the archive will be donated to a formal LGBTQ archive without the blog. You don’t have to love me or like me to participate.

I just really don’t want to share my story. 

Now, that is your right. No one should bully you into doing so. If you change your mind, the archive is here. If you see posts asking for new contributions, just scroll past.


The Q&A can be found here at this link. 

The document version for you to download, complete and email can be found at this link in document form and at this link as a .pdf.  And here’s another version just in case. 

 

LGBTQ Pennsylvania

 

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