“As You Are” Queer Joy Phone Booth Project

by Claudia Ng

Pride month means something different to each person. For some, it's a celebration, a reminder, a moment to be unapologetically you. But it’s also an opportunity to reflect on personal growth.

This Pride, we built out a phone booth for LGBTQ+ identifying folks to reflect on their queer journeys.

"I love you.”

“You’re doing great.”

“Look how far we’ve come.”

“I’m so proud of us.”

“It gets better.”

These are just a handful of the messages found within the stories we collected for Pride month.

It all started with an old, thrifted phone booth that we remodeled for the purposes of this project.

With a little TLC, our design team created a new look inspired by our themes for Pride this year. The phone booth took residency inside a local D.C. queer bar, As You Are throughout June and July.

For these months, visitors left audio messages by dialing into the phone booth’s voicemail system where they responded to the question “What would you tell your younger queer self?

With participants’ permission, we published a handful of these responses. The results were unlike anything we could have expected.

Below is a compilation of the messages from queer folks across the country. These stories are filled with everything from joy and triumph to hardship and fear. Every story is a real experience lived by real people and this project aims to highlight our community’s experiences.

Celebrating Queer Joy:
Explore real stories from our communities

Find More Stories!

Hear more stories directly through the voices of the LGBTQ+ community across the nation by visiting our "As You Are" resource page.

More About the Project

We ventured to launch a project inspired by This American Life’s 2016 “One Last Thing Before I Go.” The heartfelt NPR episode about an out-of-use phone booth in Japan that attracted thousands of people who lost loved ones to a 2011 tsunami challenged us to think about how we can best encourage the rawest form of storytelling.

Phone booths have long been an institution people have used to vocalize the most intimate of messages. They’ve been the home of “hellos” and “goodbyes,” of “I love yous,” “I miss yous,” “I’m sorrys.” They’ve carved out space for us to tap into our courage and open our hearts to both others and ourselves. They might now be a thing of the past, but the space they open up for people to be honest will always be needed.

Our goal was to create a similar safe space where queer folks could tell their untold stories. We hope that these stories will inspire you to recognize the power of your own.