Public Radio WBHM 90.3 FM is partnering with StoryCorps to broadcast selections from its StoryCorps OutLoud initiative recorded in Birmingham. StoryCorps OutLoud is a multi-year project dedicated to preserving the often unheard voices of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people. WBHM will share these stories on air and online Tuesdays and Fridays throughout November, 2015.
“Part of public radio’s mission is to feature voices and opinions with which our listeners may be unfamiliar,” says WBHM Program Director Michael Krall. “Partnering with StoryCorps on this project allows us to hear real voices from real people. Listeners will find these conversations to be intimate, personal and deeply moving.”
StoryCorps OutLoud worked with the Magic City Acceptance Center (MCAC) in the spring of 2015 as part of their southern initiative to record LGBTQ voices and experiences in the south. The three-day visit produced 16 interviews of individuals representing the entire LGBTQ spectrum who shared experiences of affirming families, remarkable friendships, beautiful love stories and heartbreaking loss.
“The Magic City Acceptance Center was honored to assist in contributing to the oral history of southern LGBTQ individuals,” said Amanda Keller, Director of the LGBTQ Programs and the MCAC for Birmingham AIDS Outreach. “The StoryCorps interview model is both intimate and safe so pairing their model with our safe and affirming space was the perfect platform.”
Jennifer Sumner and her son, Rae, told their story, and it will soon air on WBHM 90.3 FM. “My son and I feel honored and grateful that we were included in StoryCorps Outloud. It was a very positive experience and a true privilege to participate,” said Jennifer. “Our hope is by sharing our story with the public, people will hear our voices and develop a deeper compassion and understanding of the discrimination and isolation LGBT individuals and their families face. Unless someone is immediately impacted, usually a family member, most people don’t become actively involved. We need public involvement.”
StoryCorps is a non-profit oral history project founded in 2003 by Dave Isay. It has since collected and archived more than 60,000 interviews from more than 100,000 participants across the country who visit its one-of-a-kind recording sites. As one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, StoryCorps’ recorded interviews are added to the StoryCorps Archive, housed at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
Isay, whose father, Dr. Richard Isay was a closeted gay man for many years and who is credited with helping persuade the mental health community that homosexuality is not a mental disorder, long envisioned an initiative focused on the LGBT community, a group that is often excluded from the historical record.
Public Radio WBHM 90.3 FM, a listener-supported service of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, is “Your NPR News Station” and home to the Alabama Radio Reading Service for the blind and print-impaired. WBHM programming and award-winning regional journalism also can be heard in North Central Alabama on WSGN 91.5 FM through a partnership with Gadsden State Community College. Listen and give online at WBHM.org and follow the station on Facebook, @WBHM on Twitter, and @WBHM903 on Instagram.
About The Magic City Acceptance Center
The Magic City Acceptance Center is a safe, supportive and affirming space for LGBTQ young adults, ages 13-24. MCAC provides both supportive and social services including art workshops, movie nights, drop-in hours, free counseling, health and wellness workshops, STD testing (a partnership with BAO, UAB and the 1917 clinic), support groups and seasonal events such as the annual queer prom. MCAC also offers a support group for trans folks of all ages and a social group for LGBTQ people ages 50+. MCAC is a project of Birmingham AIDS Outreach. For more information, contact [email protected] or visit magiccityacceptancecenter.org.