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OUTSpoken! LGBTQ+ storytelling series celebrating 10 years in Chicago's Northalsted community

OUTSpoken! storytelling series helps LGBTQ+ community share understanding and laughter
OUTSpoken! storytelling series helps LGBTQ+ community share understanding and laughter 02:33

CHICAGO (CBS) -- It's become a fun but important feature of Chicago's LGBTQ+ community. "OUTSpoken!" at Sidetrack in Northalsted, is an monthly evening of storytelling that lets people share their lives and feel connected to others.

At an OUTSpoken! event earlier this month, Stephen Barnes recounted an important part of his life during Chicago Pride Fest 2022, when a host pulled a man on stage and asked, "Who was the first celebrity crush that made you realize you were gay?"

"Without missing a beat, I lean over to my partner and I whisper in his ear, 'Tommy, the green Power Ranger,'" Barnes said.

Barnes said that was a turning point for him.

"My idolization of Tommy the green Power Ranger is the memory I look back on and think, 'Man, that's when I should have known I was gay,'" he said.

OUTSpoken! is a storytelling series for the city's LGBTQ+ community. Archy Jamjun is the curator.

"I think storytelling is like, it brings to people what church used to bring to people. You get together. You confess a little bit. You just share and find community here," Jamjun said.

This year, OUTSpoken! is celebrating 10 years.

"We've got unique stories that have to be told, especially at a time like this, when our stories are trying to be stamped out," Barnes said.

Jamjun said OUTSpoken! fills people's need to share.

"That's what keeps it going, is that we have people that still want to tell their story," he said.

Sammie Hasen recently told the audience about trying to make a birth control holder for your phone.

"Can you imagine how many people ignored me at best to avoid such a taboo topic?" she said.

Ultimately, her company didn't make it.

"I don't think my story is going to go change all of the venture capital industry, but I hope it at least provides a sense of community and understanding," she said.

OUTSpoken! has been providing community, understanding, and plenty of laughter for a decade and counting.

"Without stories, what even is this life that we're living?" Barnes said.

OUTSpoken! happens the first Tuesday of every month at Sidetrack, 3349 N. Halsted St. Jamjun said it's so popular, the shows are full through the end of the year.

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