April Newsletter

published on Apr 23, 2020 April Newsletter thumbnail
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Dear OUTWORDS community,
I hope you and yours are faring well. It’s a tough time, isn’t it? Maybe like a lot of you, I have good days and really not good days. I want to share one message I found encouraging recently. Perhaps it’ll be helpful to you.

Two months ago, before the days of COVID, I hired two new part-time OUTWORDS team members. When COVID hit, I was very worried I would have to turn around and let them go. But so far, thanks to you and other generous donors, we have been able to keep the team together via email, text, phone calls, and twice-weekly online team meetings which are important both practically as well as emotionally. 
Rae MacCarthy (lower left) and editor Andrew Lush (upper left). With longtime director of operations Tom Bliss (lower right)
Without further ado, I’d like to introduce you, via our Brady Bunch-style team Zoom photo, to communications manager & archival assistant Rae MacCarthy (lower left) and editor Andrew Lush (upper left). With longtime director of operations Tom Bliss (lower right), I feel we have one of our strongest teams ever. Thank you for your support to keep our team together!

As a team, our sole focus is advancing OUTWORDS’ mission. Since we are temporarily prevented from scheduling new interviews at this time, we are tackling ‘under the hood’ tasks like upgrading our interactive website and adding more content to it. Here’s a sneak preview of our new home page.
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Our website is essential not only for telling people about OUTWORDS, but more importantly, for sharing our extraordinary LGBTQ+ elder stories with the world, free of charge. It really is central to our mission. We currently have 33 full-length interviews available on our platform, with 25 more to be added soon. Stay tuned for all these exciting changes!
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Mary Morten is an extraordinary LGBTQ/civic leader in Chicago, and way back in August 2016, Mary became one of OUTWORDS’ very first interviewees — a huge honor. Since then, Mary has become a trusted advisor and a caring, devoted donor. Recently, Mary donated in honor of Vernita Gray, a legendary Chicago lesbian and women’s rights activist who passed away in 2014. I’d like to thank Mary for her inspiration, for being an important member of our extended family, and for her generosity that is helping to keep LGBTQ+ alive through OUTWORDS. If you’d like to donate to OUTWORDS in support of someone you admire, living or dead, please click here.
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In addition to upgrading our website, we also are building our YouTube presence. YouTube is a great way to share our stories with people who don’t know about OUTWORDS. Wanna do us a favor? Click here to subscribe to our YouTube channel. Once we hit 100 subscribers, we get our own OUTWORDS YouTube URL, more efficient for sharing! Thanks for your help with this.
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On April 2nd, I was supposed to present a program of OUTWORDS videos and interviewees at the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco. Around that time, COVID got really real; but thanks to the hardworking, helpful folks at GLBT History, we were able to present the event online. The focus was on small moments that change our lives as activists forever, and I want to thank Marcus Arana, Al Baum, Blackberri, Donna Sachet, and Kitty Tsui for sharing their stories. The entire program is available for viewing here, and to learn more about the GLBT Historical Society, click here.

It’s fantastic to be able to share OUTWORDS stories digitally. But what to do about all the incredible LGBTQ+ elder stories not yet recorded? Since we cannot travel to our subjects’ homes at this time (and no one knows for how much longer), we are exploring recording interviews online. This option offers both advantages (lower cost) and disadvantages (less intimate setting). But we feel it is only fair to you, our donors, and our community to try! To invest in this initiative, please click here. 

Resilience and responding to tough times is one of the things the LGBTQ+ community does best. THANK YOU for all you do to keep OUTWORDS going strong! 

Warm regards, 
Mason Funk 
Executive Director, OUTWORDS