I recently joined an online social/professional network, Professional Storyteller, that has a number of special interest groups. I joined a couple of them including OUT Stories and saw this post, “I am always toying with the idea of using gay themes in my “adult” stories and wondered if anyone else has used or heard stories with this theme”.
This was my reply:
For the last 5 years I’ve been inviting a diverse group of people to tell personal stories to a mostly heterosexual audience at Odyssey Storytelling in Tucson, AZ. Many of the tellers have been lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). Some of the stories were specifically about the LGBT experience i.e. the transman who started his story on the theme The Thing About Hair by saying “when I was a little girl I had long hair”. That got the audience’s attention. Sometimes the teller casually mentioned a same sex partner. And everything in-between. I love that the audience is exposed to everyday people who happen to be LGBT in a very “safe” environment. I’ve never heard an adverse comment. Obviously the tellers feel supported to share.
I’m very lucky to live in Tucson, the little island of blue in the sea of red Arizona. LGBT content is just some of the “tough stuff” I’ve exposed the audiences to. Some of the other “difficult” stories have ranged from child abuse to mental illness to prostitution. My intention, besides using storytelling as an entertainment, is to give people something to think about.
Maybe some people get offended and don’t come back but at least they’ve had an experience of hearing another persons truth. Mostly I find that people are being educated and that’s one step on the way to dispel prejudices.
What are the fears that stop people from using LGBT content / references / themes in storytelling and other spoken word events (including theater)? That they’ll lose their audience? That they’ll be banned from other shows or festivals? That they’ll alienate people?