Online extra: Wedding Bell Blues: Stories being collected for quilt, library archives
by Seth Hemmelgarn
LGBTs are being sought to record their stories as part of a project meant to preserve community members' voices from across the country. Parts of the stories could also be included in a quilt project.
Those who have participated in the project talked about its importance.
"It was a tremendous experience to think that our comments will go to the Library of Congress," said the Reverend Roland Stringfellow. "It's definitely an honor that perspective from a black gay minister can be preserved in the Library of Congress."
He then corrected himself: "That's 'openly gay,'" he said.
Stringfellow, coordinator for the Bay Area Coalition of Welcoming Congregations for the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry at Berkeley's Pacific School of Religion, said the main thing he discussed with the friend who interviewed him was "the intersection of being black, gay, and Christian," and how that was connected with "the blaming that happened after Prop 8 against African Americans and people of faith."
After the passage of Proposition 8 in November 2008, which amended the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage, exit polling data suggested African American voters supported Prop 8 by a margin of 70 percent. Mainstream news outlets and commentators quickly picked up that figure. While many African Americans in the state voted for Barack Obama for president, those did not necessarily translate into votes against Prop 8. However the figure that 70 percent of African Americans voted in favor of Prop 8, as was reported in the CNN exit poll, turned out to have been inaccurate.
A follow-up report done by researchers at CUNY-Hunter College found black support for Prop 8 "no more than 59 percent." That report was released in January 2009 by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's policy institute.
Maya Scott-Chung, a volunteer with Marriage Equality USA and coordinator of collaboration between Story Corps OutLoud and the Loving Quilt, plans to include parts of the stories in her quilt project, which is focused on marriage equality.
The StoryCorps OutLoud project is a recording series that could lead to more LGBT voices in the StoryCorps archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
StoryCorps is a nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of their lives. Millions listen to StoryCorps' weekly broadcasts on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition."
A booth where stories can be recorded will be at the San Francisco Contemporary Jewish Museum through November. Story Corps has public slots open at the story booth during the month of May, according to Sarah Geis, San Francisco story booth site supervisor.
On May 1, at 10 a.m., StoryCorps will open its June calendar to the public.
Scott-Chung asked that people e-mail three available times on Thursdays between 1 and 6 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. to email@example.com call (510) 381-0876. This applies for May through July. Most of the May spots are already booked.
Scott-Chung's original quilt exhibit, called the Marriage Equality Movement Family Story Quilt, was created in 2007 to honor the third anniversary of the "Winter of Love" marriages that took place in San Francisco in 2004. The quilt was also meant to honor the 40th anniversary of the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court Loving v. Virginia decision, which overturned the ban on interracial marriages.
"We're creating history through the work we're doing as activists in marriage equality and family justice movements, many of us are a living part of history just through the very private acts of having children and getting married as LGBTQI people," Scott Chung said in an e-mail. "The Loving Quilt is a way to preserve that history, to do interactive public education and to create spaces for listening and alliance building between communities and movements."
The Loving Quilt is working with a team of interns to transcribe StoryCorps OutLoud stories, and excerpts of up to 500 words will be used as text for Loving Quilt panels.
Scott-Chung is hoping to gather stories that reflect the last few years of marriage equality history, and particularly emphasize stories of straight allies, extended families, and people of faith.
Participants will have 40 minutes to record a conversation with a loved one. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share.
Coming in with an interview partner is suggested, but a trained facilitator will be available to interview people who come alone.
While the interview is a public service provided free of cost, at the end of the interview the facilitator will ask for a voluntary donation of any amount.
For further information about this collaboration contact Geis at (503) 453-3665 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Scott-Chung at (510) 381-0876 or email@example.com.
All participants should enter the Contemporary Jewish Museum through the main entrance of the museum, 736 Mission Street (between Third and Fourth streets).
Two groups create Facebook page to raise money for LGBT Equality
Grassroots LGBT equality organizations Equal Roots Coalition and Freedom Action Inclusion Rights are launching a Facebook fundraising campaign.
Members of the "I Bet We Can Find 1,000,000 People With $1 For LGBT Equality" Facebook group are being asked to go beyond a simple click by donating $1. The goal is not just to hit 1 million members, but to also raise $1 million.
"Every dollar counts and every one of us has $1 to contribute to the fight," Christopher Smith, one of the initiative's creators, said in a statement.
Smith, a co-founding board member of Equal Roots, started the Facebook initiative with Alisa Sommer, co-founder and co-chair of FAIR.
"Chris and I were talking about the '1 Million People' groups on Facebook and wanted to see if we could engage people one step further. We know people care about this cause. Not everyone is going door-to-door or planning rallies, but everyone has $1 for equality," Sommer said in the groups' joint statement. "This is a grassroots experiment to challenge people who might otherwise not engage to commit one step further."
The Equal Roots Coalition (www.equalroots.com) serves as an activist hub where people can work to improve the lives of LGBTQ people in Los Angeles County and beyond through direct action and innovative organization.
FAIR (www.faironline.org) is committed to ensuring that the struggle for LGBT equality has a visible face, image, and message. The impact of its mission, according to the group, culminates with the launch of FAIRforward, a micro-fund that provides the financial and human capital needed to support up-and-coming activists in their efforts to change the world.
Their joint fundraising site is available at www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=300671819057&ref=mf.
"Since Proposition 8 passed in California in 2008, the efforts of grassroots marriage equality organizations has been restricted by a lack of funding," the groups' statement said. "It's time we supported our projects with the money needed to mobilize against the anti-equality opposition."
Wedding Bell Blues is an online column looking at various issues related to the marriage equality fight in California and elsewhere. Please send column ideas or tips to Seth Hemmelgarn at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (415) 861-5019. Wedding Bell Blues appears every other Tuesday.