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Stories as Data: Surveys Inspire Youth Theater

Stories as Data: Surveys Inspire Youth Theater
Customer Spotlight

We’re thrilled to have one of our amazing customers back here on the blog–Maggie Keenan-Bolger–to share her latest innovative use of SurveyMonkey. This time around, Maggie and her collaborators have collected the stories and ideas from over 250 New York City youths to talk about their experiences coming out as LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Asexual/Ally). These will be shared live as a theatrical reading, Not Just Another Coming Out Story, alongside Broadway stage professionals.

Welcome back, Maggie!

We’re definitely not strangers to SurveyMonkey. So far it’s helped us in the creation of three shows, and counting. Our use of surveys helped us collect a diverse–and huge–range of personal narratives most recently with our theatrical piece on girls and their sexuality, The Birds and the Bees: Unabridged. Since the platform is super user-friendly, not to mention chock-full of chart options and with the ability to create a customized URL, we decided to collect this narrative data for Not Just Another Coming Out Story in exactly the same way.

In collaboration with Green Chimneys NYC, an organization dedicated to helping LGBTQIA youth who are homeless or in foster care, we developed a series of inter-generational workshops for them to talk about their experiences. These workshops helped create Not Just Another Coming Out Story. Here’s the plot’s breakdown: Sometime in the not-so-distant future, in an unspecified location, is an organization built to ‘bear witness’ to the coming out experiences of LGBTQIA people. Having finally decided to reveal their presence to the world, the company and the people who run it attempt to explain the struggles and importance of their existence to a somewhat skeptical PR representative who’s assigned to manage their public image as they ‘come out’ to society.

For this particular project, I was able to find responses that fit with one of the scenes the youth was working on, download them into an Excel spreadsheet and send out via email while maintaining the anonymity of the survey participants. They really loved being able to read what other people had written and many were inspired by specific answers and opinions collected by the survey.

LGBTQIA-identified survey participants were asked questions such as:

  • What was one of your best experiences coming out as LGBTQIA?
  • If you could give your younger self advice about coming out, what would it be?
  • If you were to see a show about coming out as LGBTQIA, what would you want to be included?”

Straight-identified survey participants were also encouraged to participate, answering questions like:

  • Has anyone ever come out to you as LGBTQIA? If so, describe the experience.
  • Have you ever had to come out as something not-LGBTQIA related? (i.e. as religious in a non-religious setting, etc).
  • What do you think are some common misconceptions about coming out as LGBTQIA?”

Thanks to the wide range of responses we received, Not Just Another Coming Out Story will be able to reflect the stories of the youth themselves, historical events from across time as well as events and the ideas of hundreds of LGBTQIA people and their Ally’s from all across the country.

Here’s a look at our survey.

Not Just Another Coming Out Story is made possible in part by support from The Point Foundation and The Palette Fund.

For ticket and show information, please be sure to visit their Facebook page!

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