The LGBTQ Futures Project is a collaborative and community-based project in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (the UP) that seeks to understand how LGBTQ people in rural and remote locales experience community and technology. Specifically, we seek to understand how local institutions (e.g. universities or non-profits) support LGBTQ populations and the role that social media and new technologies play in creating networks of support and community in for people living in rural places.
To do this, we are deploying a participatory design workshop with LGBTQ people in towns across the UP and Northern Wisconsin. Having started in March of 2018, we are performing workshops in Marquette, Houghton, Escanaba, and Sault Ste. Marie in Michigan and Marinette in Wisconsin. In the workshops, participants will have opportunities to dialogue about what being LGBTQ means where they live and the resources they have access to (or wish they had access to). Participants will also work in small groups to brainstorm and create (using hands-on tools and crafts) a visual mock-up of a technology that is designed explicitly for future LGBTQ people living in their region.
We hope that the results of the research will generate findings that simultaneously offer insight into what the future of technology can be for rural LGBTQ people and valuable data for local institutions to use in identifying the needs of their LGBTQ community members.
This research has been approved by the University of Michigan Institutional Review Board under study number HUM00139560, the Northern Michigan University Institutional Review Board under study number HS18-936, and the Michigan Technological University Human Subjects Committee under study number 1248140-1.