An occasional series where we pose some questions to local LGBTQ folks (and Allies) to learn more about their personal experiences with LGBTQ culture.
I met John a few years ago when his (super awesome) blog, YaJagoff, called out someone for parking in a spot reserved for persons with disability. We had a heated but cordial exchange about the issue of hidden disabilities and I was very impressed with John’s sincere interest in learning about other people. He may call out jagoffs, but he is also open to rethinking assumptions AND admitting when he jumped the gun. John is the ally we want in our corner – loyal, open to knew ideas and willing to go to the mat when it counts. John just posted a excellent piece about abusive adult bullies and made a point to show that not all athletes are homophobic assholes.
And, as with many of these features, John’s story and self-awareness around meeting the first LGBTQ person in his life is simply humbling.
Affiliation: Creator of Ya Jagoff.com (hobby), Co-Creator of OutreachU (real job)
Tell us about the very first LGBTQ person you met and what that meant for you. The very first LGBTQ person I met was an upper classman.. I was in 7th grade and he was in 8th grade. This was in Catholic School which makes things REALLY interesting because, being in a religious school, you would think that there would be the utmost compassion for any of “God’s Children.” But juxtapose that with the era, 1970’s, unfortunately, the young man took a fair amount of verbal abuse from others.. me included unfortunately. I think back on that often and how my views have broadened and how now, I would be scolding/educating my own child for doing that.
How do you stay informed on LGBTQ issues? I currently try to read the posts by Susan Kerr when I can but, prior to meeting her, I mainly took in what was covered by the mainstream media and through my own LGBTQ friends.
What is the most important issue facing the LGBTQ community today? I’m not sure that I am qualified to answer what the most important issue is from INSIDE the LGBTQ community. But as an outsider, I would say the biggest issue facing the LGBTQ community is contributing to “stereotyping.” This is something that I talked about with Sue. As the LGBTQ outreach continues, providing more and more examples that they are not outcasts or menaces to society, I think they have to be careful, to NOT provide examples of the “stereotype” that gives the extreme phobics fodder and the on-the-fence phobics, or “quiet accepters,” reason to NOT be more openly accepting. This is no different than in the straight community where, I would not want a straight person phobic stereotype getting on the media and providing extreme anti-LGBTQ views and the general public thinking they represent me.
If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing in Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ community, what would it be? It would probably be related to my previous question… in no way would I ask anyone to be “normal” or be like everyone else. On the other hand, while I want my kids and my peers to know that they should be accepting of everyone that is different, it can be difficult if some are representing the LGBTQ as the stereotypes that often are held out as fodder by the phobics.
Secondly, while I think Pittsburgh, in general, is becoming less parochial, I would like to wave that magic wand to try and get all people, straight, LGBTQ, various races to be more tolerant and accepting of others that are different that themselves.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character in television, film or literature? Not sure if this really suffices as a “character” but Charles Nelson Riley was a riot on game shows.
What is one simple thing a reader can do to support the LGBTQ community? Tolerance
Thank you, John.
And be sure to visit the YaJagoff website.