Sofa Stories Detroit film series hopes to amplify youth homelessness

Community arts project to host film screening fundraiser for new series on LGBTQ youth

click to enlarge Sofa Stories Detroit during an outdoor performance in 2021. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SHEKINAH SHAZAAM PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo courtesy of Shekinah Shazaam Photography
Sofa Stories Detroit during an outdoor performance in 2021.

Sofa Stories Detroit donated most of the grant money it won from the Knight Foundation to homeless youth in the city.

In exchange, young people dealing with homelessness at the Detroit Phoenix Center were paired with a writer who would turn their couch surfing stories into performance art pieces. A series of six monologues based on those interviews are set for a film screening at Spread Art on Saturday.

Sofa Stories Detroit is a project conceived by 2019 Knights Arts Challenge winner Andrew Morton to start a larger conversation on combatting youth homelessness in Detroit.

“Youth homelessness is somewhat of an invisible crisis. They may be sleeping on a friend’s sofa, or in abandoned homes, or hotels,” Morton says. “Young people are the owners of their own stories and they need the agency to share those stories if they want to. We’re a collective of artists, activists, social workers, and people who are interested in using the arts to amplify these issues.”

Sofa Stories Detroit did a series of live outdoor performances of the monologues last summer, including at the annual Sidewalk Festival. They were later filmed so the group could reach more people.

“At the Sidewalk Festival last year it was meant to be an intimate experience,” Morton says. “The actor would sit on a sofa and we had one or two people sit on a sofa across from them to watch. Releasing the film series allows us to share those stories with a larger audience here in Detroit and outside of Detroit.”

Saturday’s film screening is also a fundraiser for the next round in the project, Sofa Stories: OUTside, which will focus on stories of LGBTQ youth who have faced housing insecurity.

“Going into this work, we knew the majority of young people facing homelessness and housing insecurity are, sadly, queer people," Morton says. "During the project last year, the more conversations we had we became even more aware of that and felt that needed more attention.”

The group hopes to raise around $9,000. Just as with the previous series, the majority of the funds will go towards stipends for young people who have experienced homelessness and want to share their stories.

“Direct cash payments is one of the best things we can do to help so we’re grateful we can use the funding to give to the Phoenix Center and the youth,” Morton says.

The crowdfunding event also includes a raffle with prizes from local businesses like the Schvitz and The Congregation, tickets to performances at the Detroit Opera, and more.

Morton says the collective is still identifying young people who want to work with them in the next round and encourages any LGBTQ youth who have dealt with housing insecurity to reach out to Sofa Stories.

More information is available at

The film screening is from 7-10 p.m. on Saturday, June 18, and costs a $20 suggested donation or pay-what-you-can. Spread Art is located at 5141 Rosa Parks Blvd.

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About The Author

Randiah Camille Green

After living in Japan and traveling across Asia, Randiah Camille Green realized Detroit will always be home. And when she says Detroit, she's talking about the hood, not the suburbs. She has bylines in Planet Detroit News , Bridge Detroit , BLAC magazine, and Model D . Her favorite pastimes are meditating...
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