The LGBTQ+ Intergenerational
Dialogue Project

The LGBTQ+ Intergenerational Dialogue Project


Hello and welcome to the LGBTQ + Intergenerational Dialogue Project! We are thrilled you have found us. This website documents our community engaged project that emerged out of a need to create opportunities for sustained intergenerational dialogues between LGBTQ+ young people and LGBTQ+ seniors; two populations who rarely have the chance to interact. Throughout this website you will read, see, and hear about this work as it has evolved since it started in Fall 2019 in and through dialogues over art, over dinner, through conflicts and in joy.

LGBTQ intergenerational dialogues are neither simple nor easy for a whole range of reasons that we continue to discover. However, it is through staying with these complexities and challenges that we come to find our ways into histories and legacies that have often been excluded from our experiences coming into LGBTQ + communities. Through this work we bridge generations to showcase the knowledge and importance they have in sustaining and creating LGBTQ+ cultures and communities.

What We Do

The project is a partnership between faculty at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Chicago and the senior services program staff at Center on Addison at Center on Halsted. We bring together racially, socioeconomically, and gender diverse cohorts of LGBTQ+ college students and older adults (60+) for a year-long series of bi-weekly themed dialogues, creative work, and shared dinners.
We believe that the fostering of long-term, meaningful intergenerational interactions can significantly strengthen the LGBTQ+ community. Our diversity provides an opportunity to put theories of intersectionality into purposeful action addressing the lived realities of LGBTQ+ people.

Intergenerational learning at the bar, Marti, George, and Ric teach Fox how to do tequila shots

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We connect LGBTQ+ Seniors and Youth for sustained dialogues, shared meals, and community building

Participants in the LGBTQ+ Intergenerational Dialogue Project meet in person at the Center on Addison at Center on Halsted every other week to share stories, perspectives on topics we find important to LGBTQ+ culture and history, and hopes for the future. Each meeting involves a shared “family meal” that allows participants to have a hot meal and develop community through informal conversations across a dining table. During the 2020-2022 cycles, much of our work migrated to Zoom where participants continued to meet, work on group and individual projects inspired by our meetings, and help one another navigate the uncertain early time of the COVID19 pandemic.

A Note on our Website Name & Acronym

Our project originally began as the Queer Intergenerational Dialogue Project, which provoked an important conversation during our very first dialogue. During that initial meeting an elder raised their concern and dislike of the term queer, providing a brief history of how that word has been used against them since the 1950s. Following this elder’s reflection and concern, a student participant shared that understanding that history is important, but for them queer is the word that they use and most identify with. Yet, rather than finding ourselves at an impasse the discussion unfolded to explore these complexities and the importance of using terms with specificity. From this initial dialogue, we changed our name to the LGBTQ+ Intergenerational Dialogue Project which allowed the range of identities (and identifiers) to be made manifest while recognizing the acronym is never settled. This reality shows that the LGBTQ+ community is ever expanding and changing. We continue to use LGBTQ+ to maintain some legibility as the project continues and grows.

Our project website that you are currently reading also emerged through an early dialogue during the first year. Recognizing the limits of putting a long acronym in the website URL and earlier conversations around using the broad concept “queer,” an important discussion emerged around thinking through what it is the project is seeking to explore and enact. It was in that conversation – back and forth between participants – that the title “generation liberation” came to fruition. This title points to the ways each generation seeks liberation that builds on previous generations. However, because generations are often not in dialogue with one another, those lessons can be lost. The LGBTQ+ Intergenerational Dialogue Project is but one small attempt to create bridges and connections within and between LGBTQ+ generations so lessons and knowledges can be transmitted and shared back and forth. We hope this work inspires other projects like ours, which itself has been inspired by other projects looking to connect generations (LGBTQ+ or not).