Boston Local Open Call: Your Asian-American Story

April 13, 2011

May is Asian Pacific American Month and the Lab has paired up with the Boston Asian American Film Festival to ask YOU for stories about growing up Asian in New England. Send us your video stories about what it’s like having a foot in two very different worlds…or are they?!

Click here to send in your video!


And the open call prize winners are…

March 17, 2011

It’s been over 40 years since protests at New York City’s Stonewall Inn sparked a civil rights movement among the gay and transgender communities. In anticipation of the television debut of the film about that event, Stonewall Uprising, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and WGBH Lab issued an open call, asking you to show us what’s happening in the gay rights movement since then. Your responses show us a variety of efforts by Americans to define love, family and identity for themselves.

Among the video submissions you’ll see folks battling for civil unions and the right to adopt, demonstrations in Reno, New York City and St. Louis; marvel at Varna Hardy’s depiction of Social Security discrimination and learn a new empathy for transgender individuals like Johanna, Tré Andre, Miss Major, Mycroft and Sabrina, who show us their determination in the face of rejection from family and co-workers.

These videos introduce us to LGTBQ artists, activists, students and retired people, teachers, southerners, military personnel, urban dwellers and even a puppet teased for being “grey”. Enjoy the creative and diverse perspectives.  Each short reminds us that every eye looking through a viewfinder sees things differently. That’s why we invite everyone to participate in the Lab’s open calls. We say THANK YOU to each contributor for sharing a powerful story with us.

We offered five cash prizes of $1000 each to inspire your best work. We enjoyed every video we received, but some entries display a level of excellence in production or storytelling that deserve extra recognition. Without further ado:


You can view the five winners HERE and learn more about each of the winning producers.


What are we looking for? Stories of courage.

January 25, 2011

A slide from The History Project exhibit, Windows on our Community. "ACT UP Die-In at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston March 24,1988"

Laying down on the street en masse is certainly one way to bring attention to the cause you care about. During the AIDS crisis, the activist group Act UP! staged well-organized protests to a national epidemic that needed a political solution. For example, this visual representation of the death toll might drive the point home.

Talk about visual impact! What effect does the image above have on you? Perhaps you are perplexed, wondering what gives someone the courage to protest this way.

Here is an example of what might make a good story in video to answer the Lab’s open call, Stonewall Uprising, inspired by the film of that name, airing on AMERICAN EXPERIENCE this April.

We want stories about men and women like those in the picture. We want to know what it is that makes them protest. We want to hear what issues are important to them today, and why they are able to express the same kind of courage that the men and women showed on the streets in Greenwhich Village in 1969, when they turned on the NYPD vice squads and decided enough was enough.

There is still time for you to send us a story. Follow this link for details on how to get started.

January 21, 2011

Thanks for your interest in today’s chat with the Lab! We’ve moved the chat window. You can find us by following this link.

We’ll talk to you at 1 p.m.!

WILL reporter helps older member of LGBT community share his story: “We’ve Been Here All Along!”

January 10, 2011

Editor’s Note: We are pleased that a few public media stations like WILL have taken advantage of the Lab’s Open Call to draw out stories from members of their local LGBT communities. We give a special shout-out to Sean Powers, WILL reporter, for donating his time to a listener he encountered who needed assistance getting his story into the new media world that so many of us have learned to work in effortlessly. We know that Sean not only helped shoot Mr. Davis’ video, but showed him how to register for a Youtube account and submit his video. Our hat’s off to you, Sean!

Gale Davis (Photo by Sean Powers)

A few months ago, I met Gale Davis, 70, of Urbana, IL. He’s a member of Illinois Public Media, and a longtime viewer and listener of our station. Davis said he knew he was gay when he was four years old.

“I had no interest in girls at all, but you had to keep that under the whatever,” he said.

Davis said 1969 was an important year for him. Right after the Stonewall riots in June, gay groups started forming across Illinois. It was around this time when Davis came out. A couple of years later, Davis spoke to the Mattachine Society in Chicago, one of the earliest gay rights organizations. He then began traveling across the country visiting gay churches, and meeting with gay rights activists. While Davis admits gays are represented more today than they were in 1969, he said many of the struggles facing the LGBT community back then are still relevant.

“Things have changed a lot, although not quite enough,” he said, reflecting on his memories about being thrown out of the air force because of his sexuality.  “I was perfectly happy to donate my time and energy and even blood to protect the country, and they didn’t want me because I was born gay.”

David said people today are more comfortable coming out about their sexuality, but he added that there needs to be more of an effort to share the gay experience with the rest of the world.

I told Davis about the Stonewall Uprising Open Call, and how the public would really benefit by hearing his perspective about what it is like being gay in America and what has changed over the past 40 years. He was eager to contribute, but did not have the means of uploading his own user-generated content. This seemed like too good of an opportunity to pass up. I set up a time to interview Davis at his home. We spoke in front of a wall coated with his ‘sermons’ describing the long-standing history of same-sex couples.

I hope Davis’ story will encourage other gay people to come forward, share their stories about gay rights since Stonewall and help guide the conversation of 21st century issues in the LGBT community.

-Sean Powers

Cross-posted with Illinois Public Media. See Davis’s video on their Vimeo channel.

RSVP’s Coming In for Stonewall Uprising Open Call

December 23, 2010

Yes, the holiday season is upon us, and for many aspiring video and film makers that means a break from the day job to get out the cameras and get serious about storytelling. Perfect timing! The Lab’s new open call is in full swing. We want your stories about the gay rights movement as you see it happening right now in your community.

RSVPs have just started to come in, as you can see from the map below (click to visit the live version). What’s your story idea?  Be sure to let us know.

If you haven’t already visited the Stonewall Uprising Open Call home page, please do! There is a trailer there of the film, which airs on AMERICAN EXPERIENCE this April, and there are plenty of tips and advice, a page about our incredible contest judges and more.

Need some inspiration to tell a story about gay rights? Follow the lab on Twitter (WGBHLab) and check out our daily news feed: WGBH Lab Gay Rights Watch.

Check out the Lab’s guest blog on American Experience

December 16, 2010

Help Tell the Ongoing Story of the Gay Rights Movement

Since 2003 it has been the Lab’s mission to bring new voices into public media. They have worked with all kinds of filmmakers and media makers of every age to create compelling stories that can go on to station broadcast and even win awards. Our hope is that crowdsourcing this open call draws in more talented media makers who feel impassioned by the story we are telling, and that the prizes offered by AMERICAN EXPERIENCE inspire every hopeful entrant to give us their best work.