Here is Cody Sibley’s final report on his project:
Closet Stories began as an LGBTQ news outlet where I would interview both straight, gay, cisgender and transgender people to tell of either their coming out stories or their friend’s coming out stories, but problems and a change of plans led to what is now Closet Stories.
Aside from my introduction video, my very first segment of Closet Stories featured a lesbian from Texas. She told me about her coming out story, how her family handled it and what her siblings thought of her sexuality in the video. She was the first person to come to me (She actually private messaged me on Facebook). The video was a little rough, but it got 54 views on YouTube. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJoBKowYAiM
I had trouble finding people willing to be on camera after that first interview. Most people were too shy to be on camera, and others simply did not want to come out. In the meantime, I still made videos about LGBTQ issues because I didn’t want to let my channel die, but I did them on my own.
It became apparent that no one would go on camera with me after making three or four videos by myself. I was disappointed to say the least, but I couldn’t let that stop me. Leelah Alcorn was just in the news, and I knew that now more than ever, I needed to continue to be a voice for the LGBTQ community. I made a video dedicated to Alcorn, which got 37 views, and decided to also start a GoFundMe in her memory. I wanted to donate the money I made in her name to a transgender organization in Louisiana. Even though my project is done, I will continue to leave that account open for anyone who wants to donate until I get sufficient funds to send to Transgender groups in Louisiana. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpHJe3r-ICk
Discrimination hit Louisiana a month later when a cop arrested two men on the charges of crimes against humanity. A cop caught them having sex in the back of a car, so he charged them with sodomy, which is unconstitutional. It happened right here in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and that wasn’t the first time the cops showed homophobic tendencies in this city. My video called out the cops for being discriminatory against gay men, and sadly it only got one view. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_m0ei57IJA0
You can find more videos on my YouTube channel, Closet Stories LA. I currently only have six subscribers, but I’m glad I’m able to touch the lives of six other people.
While I don’t think I want to continue the broadcast route, I think the project has shaped me and directed me into a more activist career path after graduation. I’m glad I got the opportunity to partake in the Manship Knight social media challenge.
I would like to thank my friend Ross Mouton for helping design my closet door logo that I use to brand myself, and I would like to thank him for teaching me how to vlog. I would like to thank Steve Buttry and Amy Reynolds for helping oversee my project, and I would like to thank the Manship School of Mass Communication and the Knight Foundation for partnering together to create this opportunity for students.