Since the OUTspoken storytelling night started almost seven years ago at Sidetrack, the audio from the six or seven stories each month has been recorded – and organizers have long had the intention of creating a podcast around these stories.
Well, with Sidetrack
now closed due to the stay-at-home order around the COVID-19 pandemic, and no OUTspoken option for April and possibly May, Sidetrack moved forward with the podcast.
Let's welcome, On the Mic: OUTspoken LGBTQ+ Storytelling at Sidetrack.
The first episode of this new podcast featured some of the stories told by OUTspoken team members: hosts Kim L. Hunt and Art Johnston, and current curator Archy Jamjun. These three stories focus one some of the major topics in the LGBTQ+ community: navigating marriage and family, social activism, and Whitney Houston.
The podcast is hosted and produced by Devlyn Camp.
"We were approached by our OUTspoken audience about a contingency plan for April," said Sidetrack general manager Brad Balof. "We discussed doing a virtual 'live' OUTspoken, but there is something very personal and special about hearing stories live at Sidetrack that we feel could not be recreated in a virtual format. With the podcast, listeners can focus on stories, their messages and absorb them in their own space and time."
The OUTspoken podcast is available now on Spotify and Stitcher
Additional podcasts from the OUTspoken vaults are forthcoming.
"I am an avid fan of podcasts and am so excited we are creating this accompany piece to our live storytelling event," Balof said. "One of our goals of Outspoken was to help people hear stories from many voices in the LGBTQ+ community. The podcast format will help us expand our reach to achieve this goal.
"A podcast is different than a live performance event, so we will explore how best to share these amazing stories in a different format. We would like to continue to take time each episode to focus on LGBTQ+ figures in history and watershed moments for the community. We also want to be conscious of time and crafting episodes that are consumable in smaller doses than you would get with six full stories (during) OUTspoken."
OUTspoken is Chicago's monthly storytelling event,celebrating personal stories from across the LGBTQ community. OUTspoken is held on the first Tuesday of each month at Sidetrack.
"We always thought the stories had value and that we should archive the audio," said OUTspoken artistic producer David Fink. "There are so many great stories and a lot of people can relate and benefit from hearing them.
"(A podcast) is a different art form and a different experience than getting together in a room. I hope the listeners will be more easily able to immerse themselves into the recorded stories. You lose the feeling of being surrounded by community members and you can't see gestures or facial expressions, but you can imagine the teller is a friend talking directly to you. Listening to a podcast is a more personal experience."
Hunt added, "OUTspoken is an amazing storytelling adventure and it's a community. The hope is that the podcast will allow those who are regulars or who have attended only one live performance, (they will) remember that they are a part of something really special as those who can shelter in place. (Through the podcast), we will be able to expand the OUTspoken community to Chicago area folks who have never been to Sidetrack and to those who are outside of Chicago and do not have access to a resource like OUTspoken."