How To Tell Your LGBTQ+ Story

‘There has quite simply never been a time in history that allows ordinary people, without an inheritance or patronage, the scope, and opportunity to tell their stories, in the way the internet and social media does today.’

It is a time in which LGBTQ+ people especially, are finding their voices and are being listened to. This is just as vital to us as individuals as it is to those within our immediate circles, and wider society.

The more our stories are read and heard, the more diverse ways of living will become the norm.

It is you, and what you have been through in your life that people are fascinated by, and the reason for this is that we look to others as roles models to validate and better ourselves. We crave that association of the shared experience and for LGBTQ+ people the desire to find comparable stories to our own is even more crucial.

You might think that it’s far too late for you, that there are so many books published every day, that the very idea of putting something that you’ve written onto the market fills you with dread, made worse by pessimistic voices inside your head telling you that nobody is going to be interested in your story.

This is not true. People are interested, and they will be interested in your story.

There isn’t a single person who has not gone through some sort of adversity in their lives, and for LGBTQ+ people those experiences are often more pronounced, have added significance, and are frequently life changing. And while equality has given the LGBTQ+ community much to celebrate over the past twenty years, in that divergence of gay culture into the mainstream, we are in danger of losing our self-identity, and we face the risk of being ignored altogether.

It is therefore just as important today, as it always has been, that we tell our stories.

Podcasts have become a hugely successful means of communicating with an audience and is now a mainstream alternative to listening to things that could only have been heard on radio talk shows before, but with added diversity. They offer the perfect forum for LGBTQ+ writers to talk about their books and their personal stories.

Some podcasts have big production behind them and are hosted by big-name celebrities, but these are not the easiest to get onto as a guest. Often the best podcasts are those with a solo presenter or two otherwise unknown people chatting about topics they’re passionate about and that resonate with their listeners: Being LGBTQ Podcast with Sam Wise, Lost Spaces with K. Anderson or Story of a Storyteller with Conor Bredin, are just a few.

Being interviewed on camera, usually via Zoom or Skype, is different to being just heard and you will need to think about things like body language and how you are projecting yourself.

Here are some tips to help give the best version of you in interview in front of the camera:

  • It is important to be animated and not to look stiff. When we talk to someone in person, we don’t just listen to what they are saying but we ‘read’ their facial expressions and body language too. The audience will be looking for these visual clues as well.
  • Unless you are a truly experienced thespian, don’t try to create a false persona. Even if you use a penname, that is not who you are. Be you. You cannot be fake in front of the camera.
  • Never chew gum, suck sweets or eat. The occasional sip of drink is acceptable, especially if it is a long recording.
  • Make sure you maintain eye-contact and keep your focus on the interviewer.
  • If you are in a joint interview, keep still and maintain your attention on the interviewer when the other person is speaking. Don’t start gazing around or fidgeting, because it will make you look disinterested. We’ve all seen that happen in Zoom meetings.
  • Do not hold anything in your hands because you will unknowingly fiddle and that will make you look nervous.
  • Don’t slouch. Sit up straight and lean forward a little so that you appear interested in what the interviewer has to say. This will also help with your breathing by opening up your diaphragm.
  • Sometimes things go wrong, be it technical, or human error. Let the interviewer deal with it but show some humour at the situation. They can cut and edit later or may decide to include it to show your funny side.
  • Always call the interviewer by their first name, be polite and well-mannered.
  • Be upbeat and cheerful when you’re first introduced; dependent, of course, on the severity of the subject matter and following conversation.
  • Never give a simple yes or no answer. Elaborate and be enthusiastic and passionate about your subject. That’s what people want to see. Sometimes, a well-timed yes or no answer can make for a dramatic pause and literally grab people’s attention, but those moments are rare and should not be forced. Don’t worry too much about the length of your answers. You can stop when you feel you have said enough, the interviewer will be listening for such a pause to pose another question. Cuts and edits will be made to fit the airtime.
  • If you need to include technical information, explain it in a way that can be easily grasped and understood. Have that information to hand if you think it might come up and you can even show it to the camera. It is quite legitimate to read something out if it is short and if you want the audience to really listen and understand the detail.

Extract from How To Tell Your LGBTQ+ Story by David Ledain.

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