An occasional series where we pose some questions to local LGBTQ folks (and Allies) to learn more about their personal experiences with LGBTQ culture. Click here for a complete list of all LGBTQ&A profiles.
Lauren is a co-organizer of the Pittsburgh Dyke and Trans March (we’ve already profiled Eli Kuti) which is coming up this weekend. This event is very grassroots – perhaps the most in our community – and aptly described by Lauren as a political event. I admire Lauren for putting her words into practice by organizing both this march and the Rhinestone Steel event – she’s not one to sit around saying “there’s nothing to do!” Hope to see you at the Dyke and Trans March.
Name: Lauren Jurysta
Affiliation: Pittsburgh Dyke Trans March and Rhinestone steel.
Tell us about the very first LGBTQ person you met and what that meant for you. I cant really remember the first LGBTQ person I’ve ever met but what really sticks out in my mind is the first time I met the dykiest gender fucking, political, covered in tattoos, dirty, bad ass person ever.. instantly making me think ‘oooohhhh my goddess i want to be them!!!’. I was 16. I had been queer and out for a couple years but never in my life met someone so opposite everything that society tells us we should be. It was mind blowing. In an exciting like ‘omg I want this person to teach me everything they know’ kinda way. And it opened my eyes to see that when you learn who you are, you can be your self to the fullest extent and fuck everyone else and what they say!
How do you stay informed on LGBTQ issues? I stay informed through the internet, word of mouth, political organizations, my friends.
What is the most important issue facing the LGBTQ community today? Hmm well the oppression comes in many forms. I know this is very general but I’d have to say that peoples hatred and fear towards the unfamiliar is a pretty big issue and what most oppression stems from. It’s effecting us in all of these legal ways like same sex partner benefits, marriage, anti trans bathroom laws, work discrimination. And also effecting us in a more one on one basis like gay bashings and bullying. I don’t know if i could say what the most important issue is. I think the most immediate thing I’d like to have change are the life threatening situations like bathroom gender laws, bullying, gay bashing, LGBTQ people serving a prison sentence and homeless gay youth.
If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing in Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ community, what would it be? I would make the LGBTQ community in Pittsburgh 10 times bigger and stronger! And I’d want the radical queer community to be at least half of that growth. I’m currently working on a project called Rhinestone Steel which is an all day queer music and arts festival and our mission and perceived outcome is to build community! it is a political action in celebration of our community. In an environment where queer voices are seldom heard in mainstream music and arts spaces, Rhinestone Steel aims to not only celebrate our community’s varied talents, but also spark new inspiration within our community. We hope that the Pittsburgh queer scene will grow together by seeing and celebrating each other’s talents. RSS is not only a festival, but also a space where queer folks can share resources: organizations come to “table” with political information, support resources, and opportunities to become involved. It’s a way to get the community more educated about what’s going on in the area and a way for people to become involved. RSS is so important because it builds bridges between local and national queer organizations to create a tighter community and a wider reach.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character in television, film or literature? Music has always been a very important part of my life and I’ve always loved Lynn Breedlove and all the fabulous folks in Tribe 8. Michelle Tea is awesome! John Waters. I cant just pick one!
What is one simple thing a reader can do to support the LGBTQ community? Be out and loud! Be yourself! Be visible! Don’t take shit! Going to political events like Dyke Trans March is very important. Support queer community and be involved!