Changing the conversation
In 2019, as the global LGBTQ community celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, I pitched a six-part series to The New York Times, which would tell the stories of six LGBTQ individuals in the Midwest who are still fighting for acceptance in their various communities. This series acknowledged the progress since Stonewall, but pointed out that marriage equality was not the end of the fight and that there is still work to be done, particularly on behalf of those who are not white, cisgender, or gay men. The series was the center spread for the Times’ special edition covering the 50th anniversary of Stonewall.
The series raised the voices of Gene Dawson (an elderly drag queen in St. Louis who recounts overlooked activism in the Midwest before Stonewall), Ryan Young (an Ojibwe Two Spirit on growing up in the Lac du Flambeau Reservation in Wisconsin), Mahad Olad (who navigates being queer and Somali in Minneapolis), Mahdia Lynn (the founder of an LGBTQ+ affirming mosque in Chicago), James Schwartz (who speaks to the experience of gay Amish men), and Brittany Ferrell (one of many queer Black women who were on the front lines in Ferguson, Mo., after the murder of Mike Brown).
-Pitching project to editors, construction of narrative
-Source identification and interviewing
-Writing, editing, and incorporating feedback from editors
-Collaborating with photographer
The New York Times: LGBTQ in the Midwest, where the fight is still happening