In this episode of the StoryCorps podcast, stories about finding your people. We’ll hear from LGBTQ folks who found that within their families, and from those who found family in their friends.

Our first story comes from Jay Toole, who sat down for StoryCorps with her friend Jess Valdez to talk about how they became each other’s chosen family after Jay spent many years living on the streets of New York City. 


Next, a conversation between Les and Scott GrantSmith, who have now been married for over 30 years and raised two daughters together, Thea and Amanda. A decade into their relationship, Les and Scott were faced with the decision to remain together when Les came out as transgender.


We’ll then hear from Stefan Lynch Strassfeld, who told his friend Beth Teper what it was like being raised by gay parents, along with the many men who he called his “aunties” during the early days of the AIDS crisis.


Corinthia Isom and Kathleen Payne sat down together at StoryCorps to remember Corinthia’s mother, DeSeane Isom, and how Kathleen took Corinthia in after DeSeane died from an AIDS-related illness in the mid-90s.


And finally, we’ll hear a conversation from 2009 between MJ Seide and her then 12-year-old granddaughter, Genna Alperin. At StoryCorps, they reflect on their relationship and how MJ fell in love with Genna’s biological grandmother.


Top photo: Artwork by Michael Caines.
Second photo: Jess Valdez with her friend Jay Toole at their StoryCorps interview in New York City. By Afi Yellow-Duke.
Third photo: Les and Scott GrantSmith at their StoryCorps recording in 2010. Also, Amanda, Les and Thea GrantSmith after they recorded together. By Jasmyn Morris.
Fourth photo: Genna Alperin with her grandmother MJ Seide in Norfolk, Virginia in 2009. By Jeremy Helton.
Fifth photo: Beth Teper and Stefan Lynch Strassfeld at StoryCorps in San Francisco, California in 2010. By Eloise Melzer.
Bottom photo: Kathleen Payne with Corinthia Isom at their StoryCorps interview in New York City in 2015. By Vanessa Gonzalez-Block.

Released on July 2, 2019.

Like the music in this episode? Support the artists:
“Overture” by Patrick Wolf from the album Sundark and Riverlight
“Watermarks” by Blue Dot Sessions from the album Crab Shack
“Cast in Wicker” by Blue Dot Sessions from the album Aeronaut
“Periodicals” by Blue Dot Sessions from the album Albany, NY
“Filing Away” by Blue Dot Sessions from the album Crab Shack
“Vittoro” by Blue Dot Sessions from the album Aeronaut