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This project connects two populations – LGBTQ+ youth and LGBTQ+ elders – who rarely have the chance to interact. A partnership between The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Center on Addison at Center on Halsted, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, we bring together racially, socioeconomically, and gender diverse cohorts of LGBTQ+ college students and older adults (60+) for year-long series of bi-weekly themed dialogues, creative work, and shared dinners.
The project began with a simple question: what might we learn about our own experiences through deep conversations with those younger or older than us? Specifically, what might we learn about what it means to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community in the past, present, and future? Together, we develop the focus of our dialogues (such as gender, faith/spirituality, HIV/AIDS, origins, race, ageism, family, media representation, sex, and alternate care networks) and talk through our varying perspectives. Story-telling has become a focus of our intergenerational dialogues, and we often spend the first hour of each meeting listening to folks talk about their personal experiences with the topics and histories we’ve chosen to discuss. We’re experimenting with different modes of oral history, art, poetry, essay writing, and activism.
What might we learn about our own experiences through deep conversations with those younger or older than us?
The diversity of our participants is one of the great strengths of the project. Almost half identify as people of color, half as women, and over a third as transgender and/or gender nonconforming. Both generations include transgender, bisexual, gay, lesbian, and queer folks. Many of our older participants live in Town Hall Apartments, one of the few LGBTQ+ friendly senior public housing facilities in the U.S. Our group includes HIV positive members, political activists, artists, parents who formed families in different ways, folks who came out at various stages of life, and seniors and youth with chronic disabilities. We have various and complex relationships with faith and spirituality. Geographically, we are from both urban and rural areas including the South Side of Chicago, the greater Midwest, Texas, Appalachia, Missouri, Eastern Europe, the U.K., Taiwan, and the Philippines.
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. Through our dialogues and casual conversations, many of us have discovered that we share significant experiences such as isolation from families of origin, mental health challenges, discomfort with healthcare providers, and discrimination. We also share frustration in our lack of in-depth knowledge about LGBTQ+ history, and a desire to learn about our past and present. Joy, laughter, tension, and risk-taking become part of the emotional work necessary to build a participatory, intersectional LGBTQ+ community that values difference, empathy, and equity among its members.
You can learn more about our individual stories by clicking here.
Learn More About Us
Generating Queers: The Class
History of the Project
In Fall 2020, project co-founders Adam Greteman and Karen Morris co-taught a new course entitled “Generating Queers” at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
View all participants of the Dialogues – past and present – and get to know them through pictures, brief bios, and links