Questions for Prompting a Story

Posted on November 1, 2009. Filed under: Resources |

Basic bio information
When / where were you born?
What is your ethnic background?
Where have you lived?
What occupation(s) have you worked in?
When did you come to the US (Western Culture)?

Coming out
When were you first aware of sexual identity? How did that happen?
How do you define coming out?
to self
to other gay people
to your family
to straight people (how and when did you first tell them?)
What influenced your coming out?

Family background / growing up
When / where did you grow up?
What did you want to be when you grew up? Do you remember what inspired those dreams?
Any early signs about later orientation? (being a tomboy, playing w. kids of opposite sex, preferring opposite sex games and activities)
Acceptance/rejection of these activities, or of emerging expressions of identity, by family members?

Immigration
When did you decide to immigrate?
What made you want immigrate?
What were the biggest cultural differences you noticed?
What were your expectations of being an immigrant?
What was you biggest learning moment as an immigrant?
What would you like to share with others about being an immigrant?

Race/ethnicity
Did it make a difference? how?
Social acceptance/rejection within gay community (re race)? — within one’s ethnic community (re sexual orientation)?
Interracial relationships or friendships? If yes, what did you learn from that Experience, or from people you knew? What were the attitudes of others you knew to such relationships?
Did being part of the GLBT community bring you in contact with people of different ethnic backgrounds? How did that affect your circumstances and/or outlook?
Religion / spiritual learnings
Did your religion/spiritual learnings make a difference? how?
— family background? own (personal)?
— can you identify sources or other influences of your beliefs?
— changes/evolution of personal beliefs; relation to sexuality?
— membership in GLBT religious/spiritual groups or organizations?
— what aspects of one’s religious background carried over into one’s life as a gay / lesbian / bisexual / transgendered person? what aspects changed, and to what extent?
Class / economic background
Were your circumstances comfortable when growing up, or not?
— opportunities available (for education, work, career)? did you feel these to be limited or not?
— effects of any of this on personal outlook?
— did your circumstances change as you got older? how? what were the causes?
— were class issues important in your political views and/or activities?
— did being part of the GLBT community bring you in contact with people of different class backgrounds? how did that affect your circumstances and/or outlook?
Education
— to what level? where? when?
— Were there opportunities to meet other GLBT people in educational settings? college or school organizations?
— Did some departments or subjects have a reputation for attracting GLBT students or faculty? Which ones? In your opinion, was this true?
— Did fellow students discuss homosexuality? In your opinion, was their information correct? Did you learn from it?
Social life
What were the clues to find/identify other that were LGBT?
— dress?
— language? body language?
— other?
How did you meet other GLBT people at first? Did this change over time?
Where did you meet others (bars, meeting halls, music venues, halls in supportive churches, etc.)?
Did single people and couples socialize differently?
Were there private social networks or organizations? If so, were these urban-based? (Were there opportunities for gay or lesbian social life in suburban or rural areas?)
Were there class- or race-specific groups or subcultures?
— mixed gender groups or friendships?
— friendships / social contact between lesbians and gay men?
— lesbians or straight women who hung out with gay men: what were these friendships like?

Career
Were you out at work? What were the results?
Were there opportunities to meet kindred spirits at work?
Relationship history
— marriage? (het or gay)
— long term relationships?
Children
— if yes, a result of previous straight relationships, or within gay/lesbian community?
— how do you think your identity affected them?
Major historical events in your lifetime
Examples: WWII, McCarthy era, Civil Rights movement, JFK/MLK assassinations, Vietnam war, hippie era, Stonewall, etc.
— How old were you during these times? Which ones were significant to you, and why?
Political movements / activism
— what were the political values you grew up with? (family’s, peer group’s, etc.)
— political activism/causes before gay involvement? which ones?
— influences of other movements (non-violence, anti-war, Civil Rights, hippie counterculture, etc.) on your political values?
— involvement in GLBT political activism? which ones?
— how did political thinking/climate affect your involvement in or support of gay rights?
Role models
— when young? older?
— personal acquaintances? teachers/adults? or famous people?
General feelings about identity/orientation
Did you ever feel depressed about it? limited? special? enlightened? etc.
Have you ever felt threatened? Ever been in physical danger?
What things have made you feel proud?
Humor
What things made you laugh? Can you recall specific examples of gay/lesbian/drag humor, parodies, send-ups? Pranks? In-jokes? Fooling or getting back at straight people?
Stories from elders
When you first came out, did you hear older members of the community talk about what times were like in their youth? Do you remember specific stories?
Unwritten codes of conduct
— When you first came out, did you get any advice from “elders”, or from anyone else “in the life,” on how to act or how to be?
— When you first came out, did you meet others you knew right off that you wanted to emulate? That impressed you strongly? Why? What was it about them that made you feel that way?
— social taboos? / no-nos? (What was not cool?)
— who was especially or generally admired? for what reasons? if some were unpopular, for what reasons?
— did you or friends act / feel differently when in one another’s company, as opposed to being with straight people? if yes, explain the differences
— what role models did popular culture provide for gays/lesbians? (ex. bikers, movie personalities, others?)

Experience with / knowledge of subcommunities within gay culture
— drag (Are you familiar with “drag queen honor”? Can you provide examples?)
— “women’s community” (1970s+)
— separatism
— political or intentional communities / collective houses / land trusts and collectives
— leather/S&M
— others

Try to identify the times and places of stories or incidents that have been discussed, for example, by relating them to approximate time periods or historical events (“before the war,” “the 70s,” etc.)
Summing up
— Other topics that you want to cover?
— If you could live life over, is there anything you would do differently?
— Significant changes you’ve witnessed over time?
— What would you say to young GLBT people today, or to those who will come along in the future?

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    Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Immigration Stories – A Collective Wisdom

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