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THE TRIBUTARY PROJECT

A PLATFORM CONNECTING YOUNGER AND OLDER LGBTQ+ PEOPLE FOR MENTORSHIP AND COMMUNITY BUILDING.

A solo passion project

The Problem

Most marginalized groups can learn their history, traditions and culture from family. But LGBTQ+ people miss out on this sense of community since most queer folks don’t have queer parents.

This creates a lack of cross-generational community building: most younger LGBTQ+ people don’t have any situations where they’d interact with older LGBTQ+ folks who have similar backgrounds or identities.

Opportunity

Create a platform that brings together younger and older LGBTQ+ people, matching them according to their intersectional identities.

How It Works

The platform lets the user input details about their LGBTQ+ identity. My research showed that users would prefer that their mentor or mentee have a similar sexual orientation and gender identity to their own. For example, a trans man would prefer another trans man as a mentor, since they'd be better able to understand each other's experiences.

The platform also allows users to indicate a preference for someone of a similar race, ethnic background, religion, geographic location and more. A person's experience as a member of the LGBTQ+ community is shaped by other aspects of their identity, and my research indicated that this was a vital feature for potential users.

Design Considerations

Community: Even though we hear the phrase "LGBTQ community" all the time, bringing together groups within that community is not often addressed. Without a platform like the Tributary Project, many older LGBTQ+ people will have no way to pass along their stories and advice. For younger queer folks, having a mentor who understands them can actually save their life: just one accepting adult can reduce the risk of suicide by 40%.

Choice: The LGBTQ+ community has historically been stripped of agency. I therefore wanted to give my users lots of control over how much information they shared about themselves, as well as providing justification for information requests within the user experience flow.

Intersectionality: Not all LGBTQ+ people have the same experiences. One's race, ethnicity, religion, country, and geographic location all effect a person's experience in the LGBTQ+ community. I didn't just want to bring together older and younger people; I wanted to allow them to find someone who can best understand their unique life experience.

Example Personas + User Journey

This abbreviated user journey highlights how a future mentor and mentee make selections within the Tributary platform that cause them to match with each other.

Zora

Age: 18

Ethnicity: Mexican American

Location: Chapel Hill, NC

Full-time high school student

Relationship to the LGBTQ+ community: Zora is transgender and a lesbian

Zora has a good support system, but she doesn't know many other trans people, especially any outside her own age group.

Zora indicates that she is a lesbian, female, and transgender.

Zora wouldn't mind having a mentor that's also a lesbian, but it's not the most important thing to her.

Zora really wants a fellow trans woman as her future mentor, so she indicates that she'd prefer a female mentor.

Since Zora's already entered that she is female and trans, her preference here tells the platform that she'd prefer a trans mentor.

Zora would love if her mentor shared her same ethnicity since it's a big part of her identity. She indicates "I'd care a lot" which prompts her to type in her ethnicity.

Bianca

Age: 51

Ethnicity: Mexican American

Location: San Diego, CA

Occupation: Public defender

Relationship to the LGBTQ+ community: Bianca is transgender and bisexual

Bianca would like to be able to share advice and her life experience with a young person, especially since she doesn't plan on having kids.

Bianca indicates that she is bisexual, female, and transgender.

Bianca doesn't have a particularly strong preference of the sexual orientation of her potential mentee.

Bianca would love to pass on advice to a younger woman, especially since she has
no kids of her own.

Bianca would love to provide a young trans woman with the guidance that she wishes she’d had in her early life.

Bianca has had a unique experience navigating her transition within her community, which she thinks could
really help her mentee.

Zora and Bianca are done! Both will soon receive an email informing them of their match.

“ALL YOUNG PEOPLE, REGARDLESS OF SEXUAL ORIENTATION OR IDENTITY, DESERVE A SAFE AND SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH TO ACHIEVE
THEIR FULL POTENTIAL.”

— HARVEY MILK

Next Steps

ICA in Richmond

The next phase for the Tributary Project is finding a brand partner
to make it a reality; I'm working with a local consulting company and a database engineer to determine my next steps.

I worked with the Institute for Contemporary Art in Richmond to
host a launch event for the Tributary Project. This event, taking place during pride month, would have brought together more than a hundred younger and older members of the LGBTQ+ community for community building, a moderated discussion, and a story segment similar to The Moth. Sadly, due to the coronavirus, this event has been postponed, but hopefully the launch will be able to go on later in 2020.

Project Type: Passion Project

Timeline: February 2019 – January 2020

What I Did: Everything! Research, interviews, concepting, strategy, UI/UX, branding, art direction, user testing, marketing, presenting, etc.

Tools: Adobe XD, Photoshop, Illustrator, Google Forms, Keynote

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