VideoOut started in 2016 as a project to collect coming-out stories. Like so many projects in history, it's morphing into an organization to help solve gigantic problems facing real people today.

What problems? A world torn at the seams as the threads of commonality vanish. An America more divided and isolated than ever before as hatred, prejudice, and discrimination pervade our homes, schools, businesses, and churches. Racism, misogyny, homophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia, white supremacy, partisanship - there’s a seemingly endless list of ways people are staking a claim to their breeding grounds of difference while holding their boots on the necks of the underrepresented.

The statistics are overwhelming. It seems to only get worse for at-risk communities. For instance, 2016 was the deadliest year on record for the LGBTQ community until that record was broken in 2017. Sadly, the trend continues in 2018. Additionally, according to Pew Research Center, starting in 2014, the majority of Americans believe race relations are generally bad, and 40% of white Americans don't have a friend from another race.

This means that the voices of so many people are drowned out by the hurtful noise of vitriol. It means that the stories of the vulnerable are undercut by rancorous denial and intentional underrepresentation. It means that the important life experiences of undiscovered geniuses, boundary-breaking artists, compassionate change-makers, unencumbered lovers, and inspiring dreamers go undocumented and are forever lost in the shadow of history.

Highlighting the problems is too easy. Everywhere you turn, there’s evidence of a divided country set against LGBTQ people. Stonewall Community Foundation says that "Despite positive advances and tremendous victories over the past few decades, the LGBTQ community now finds itself struggling to retain these wins amid attempts to undermine our rights. Religious doctrine is used to avoid baking wedding cakes, fake facts are presented to bar transgender individuals from military service, healthcare workers can refuse to treat LGBTQ patients, and transgender students struggle to find a safe place to simply relieve themselves." With all the overwhelming problems, what can be done?

VideoOut exists to amplify LGBTQ voices, our most powerful tools in the march towards liberation. It magnifies the elusive common ground, pointing out that we all have more in common than we think.

By recording and sharing the video stories of LGBTQ people, we force everyone to confront, face to face, real people that talk about the same goals and challenges, joys and sorrows. The common thread that binds us all together is our magnificent, complex humanity.

The stories collected by VideoOut create something deep-seated and internal. They foster a desire to understand and share another person’s feelings. VideoOut then creates an ability for that empathy to take root, connecting us to each other on a deeply human level.

These stories will amplify the thinking and highlight the appearance of LGBTQ people around the country, showing us all that diversity is a part of our shared narrative. These stories will be wielded as tools for advocacy, education, and awareness.

VideoOut works with diverse, at-risk, and underrepresented communities, further amplifying the voices we’re highlighting by leveraging local networks and reaching people at the grassroots level.

...anything worth its outcome involves everyone’s priorities, desires, visions, and perspectives in every phase and around every decision.
— Morgan Mann Willis

These stories will catalyze positive change, weeding out the antiquated and dangerous perceptions Americans have about LGBTQ people.

The stories showcase the bodies, faces, environments, sounds, voices, and noises that are familiar to specific people - it’s the closest representation to real life one can have without actually being physically present. The stories will beautifully frame real moments of time that are undeniable in our collective story. And they will capture the lives, through sound and silence, that will speak people’s real truths into a permanent archive for posterity.

There is an undeniable, often unspoken power of congregational gathering. VideoOut has relationships in cities all across the country, and plans to record and share stories in each place. We'll go into parts of the country that do not have programming that affirms the LGBTQ community. We’ll leverage the relationships we already have to work with people in the most unreached places. Their stories are the ones that have too often been left out of the conversation. When brought to light, their stories, alongside the stories of everyone who shares, will inspire all of us to look within ourselves to find our compassion and empathy. Their stories will also empower underrepresented communities to stand taller than ever, in solidarity, knowing that their voices are finally heard.

When Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, almost everything lost its footing. Houses were detached from their foundations, trees and shrubbery were uprooted, signposts and vehicles floated down the rivers that beame of the streets. But amidst the whipping winds and surging water, the oak tree held its ground. How? Instead of digging its roots deep and solitary into the earth, the oak tree grows its roots wide and interlocks with other oak trees in the surrounding area. And you can’t bring down a hundred oak trees bound beneath the soil! How do we survive the unnatural disasters of climate change, environmental injustice, over-policing, mass imprisonment, militarization, economic inequality, corporate globalization, and displacement? We must connect in the underground, my people! In this way, we shall survive.
— Naima Penniman

When all the LGBTQ voices are represented, the empathy created will act as a chain-reaction, fueling a movement for justice and equality. The community created by the collection of stories does not favor race, gender, sexuality, age, wealth, geography, or religion. Instead, it welcomes every story with equal fervor, asserting that when we walk together, we all arrive at the destination.

My dream is a movement with such deep trust that we move as a murmuration, the way groups of starlings billow, dive, spin, dance collectively through the air — to avoid predators, and, it also seems, to pass time in the most beautiful way possible. When fish move in this way, they are shoaling. When bees and other insects move in this way, they are swarming. I love all the words for this activity. Here’s how it works in a murmuration/shoal/swarm: each creature is tuned in to its neighbors, the creatures right around it in the formation. This might be the birds on either side, or the six fish in each direction. There is a right relationship, a right distance between them — too close and they crash, too far away and they can’t feel the micro-adaptations of the other bodies. Each creature is shifting direction, speed and proximity based on the information of the other creatures’ bodies.
— Adrienne Maree Brown

Linked arm-in-arm with our stories as our torches, we boldly march toward liberation. We proclaim that we are beautiful. We deserve to be heard. We are one.

We are LGBTQ.

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