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Group aims to bridge the LGBTQ+ generational divide through art and dialogue

Chicago group uses art, words to bridge LGBTQ+ generational divide
Chicago group uses art, words to bridge LGBTQ+ generational divide 03:00

A Rogers Park group connecting LGBTQ+ seniors and youth aims to develop stronger relationships between the two age groups so they can learn from each other.  

The LGBTQ+ Intergenerational Dialogue Project began in 2019 after organizers found a disconnect between the generations.  

"There was a lack of contact between elder and younger LGBTQ+ people," said Adam Greteman, the group's co-founder. "So we wanted to create some type of opportunity that would bring younger and older LGBTQ folks together for dialogues."

The project is a partnership between faculty at the School of Art Institute of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Chicago and the senior services program staff at Center on Addison at Center on Halsted.  

Phyllis Johnson admits a majority of her friends are 55 and older and could use some generational diversity in their lives. 

"We're used to a certain way and we're not changing much, but then when you get involved with people that are much younger, you get that perspective," she said. "It serves, I think, kind of like being around nieces and nephews and grandchildren."

For the past five years, participants collaboratively created art in small intergenerational groups

"I think it's momentous because it doesn't happen very often," said Greteman. "So having the opportunity for younger and older LGBTQ+ members to think and learn about what's going on in the world, both historically and temporarily, is an awesome educational opportunity."

In the last two years, the Dialogue Project has partnered with Gerber/Hart Library and Archives, the Midwest's largest LGBTQ+ library, to preserve the community's work.

Their art will be stored in the library's archive room.

"Lesbians rule," said project curator Katia Klemm. "All of these things that we create, the fashion, the fabric of our lives, we are contributing to that and creating it."

Erin Bell, the Gerber/Hart Library and Archive Operations Director, said: "It's an incredible honor to have the intergeneration dialogue project be part of Gerber/Hart and to be able to play a role in making this project and artwork accessible."

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