Interviewing Subjects for LGBT Nondiscrimination Stories

Interview Tips & Sample Questions

After identifying subjects for online profiles – including LGBT people who have faced discrimination, business leaders, and other allies – the next step is completing a brief interview and then compiling everything into a written profile. Here are some interview questions and tips for strong interviews. Read more on this process here.

Sample of a Pre-Interview Questionnaire:

  1. What is your full name, where are you from, and where do you live? How long have you lived in your state/city?
  2. What do you do for work? And what are you involved with in your community?
  3. Have you ever heard of a story about an LGBT person facing discrimination in your state, or have you personally been discriminated against for your sexual orientation or gender identity?
  4. What does the word “discrimination” mean to you?
  5. Can you briefly describe some of the gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people who are important to you in your life?

Sample Interview Questions for a Phone Interview with an Ally:

  1. Where do you live in **STATE**? How long have you lived there?
  2. Can you describe for me what you do for work? What sorts of things are you involved with in your community?
  3. What are some of your favorite things about your community?
  4. Are you close with any lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people in **STATE**? Can you describe some of those relationships?
  5. Right now, **STATE** does not fully protect gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people from discrimination – these people could still be unfairly fired, denied housing, or be turned away from public spaces because of who they are. How does that make you feel?
  6. How would it feel to see your state pass a non-discrimination law that explicitly protects LGBT people from discrimination?
  7. For people of faith (or conservatives): How is supporting these non-discrimination protections consistent with your religious (or political) beliefs?
  8. For interviews specifically about transgender people: When did you first become familiar with what it means to be transgender? Can you talk me through your process of coming to understand and support **Name**?

Tips for Interviews:

  • Toward the beginning, ask open-ended questions so you can allow your subject to tell you a story or take the question to where their values lie. You usually get stronger responses with open questions: “How does that make you feel?” “Can you tell me about?” “Can you describe?” “I’m curious about…”
  • Don’t be afraid to interrupt if a subject begins to go off topic or dives into too much detail. They could just be nervous or excited.
  • Encourage them. If the subject is sharing something about how they didn’t support their LGBT friend or neighbor or family member at first, make sure they know that that’s OK: “It’s really been amazing to see how much more open society has gotten about this…I know many people had never really thought about LGBT people, so I understand why you were initially uneasy.”
  • At the end of every interview, tell the subject that you don’t have any more questions, but that you want to know whether there’s anything else they’d like to talk about or emphasize. They’ll almost always summarize their point in a stronger, more authentic way.
  • If you haven’t gotten any good quotes by the end of your story, ask them a softball: “Can you describe for me why it’s important that our communities and our laws treat people equally?”
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