AMPLIFY LGBTQ is a new occasional series of blog posts designed to give a “signal boost” to the voices of our LGBTQ neighbors throughout Western Pennsylvania. We are using a Q&A format and will mostly avoid editing their responses. The questions, however, may change as we ask each participant to tell us what we’ve missed asking. It is one of the vibrant elements of a blog format – evolution & growth.
Our intent is to highlight the voices of marginalized members of our community who are not always invited to the table or whose voices are not heard (because “we” are not listening?) Obviously, my choice of questions does shape the conversation, but beyond that – these are glimpses in to the lived experiences of LGBTQ people in Western Pennsylvania as told in their own voices. If you would like to participate, please email me pghlesbian at gmail or visit the online Q&A.
For perspective, here’s a map of the counties of Western PA.
I was introduced to Joy via Facebook several years ago. She is very much someone at the top of my list of people I would like to sit down, face to face, for a while and just talk. Her activism, her poetry and her grace inspire me to look within and challenge my own stuff.
Name: Joy KMT
County of Residence: Allegheny
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? The first Queer person I met was one of my friends in high school. Actually, a lot of my friends in high school. Although, I wasn’t out then and they weren’t out to me at least. It’s kind of funny how many queer folks I used to hang with and was kind of oblivious to it.
How do you describe your identity? I am a prizmatic bi-queer genderescent black femme woman.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Facebook and my friends.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character in television, film or literature? I don’t have a favorite character. Audre Lorde is my favorite author, though.
How would you describe yourself in terms of “being out”? I would hope everybody knows I’m queer if my 92 year old protestant nana does.
Tell me about your local or regional LGBTQ community. My local community has a lot of different pockets of people who gravitate towards each other based on gender, orientation, class, race, and politics.
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity in a job setting? How about in terms of being served by a business? Please explain. Does this question encompass other identities besides my queerness? I’ve faced a lot of discrimination as a black mother. I haven’t faced as much because of my orientation. The attitude is definitely different, but no outright discrimination.
Describe your community in terms of being LGBTQ friendly (or not.) I don’t go where I’m not welcome, generally speaking, so where I go folks are generally friendly.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? Yes. Issues surrounding trans-antagonism, biphobia and race and class are a nascent conversation that hasn’t had much visibility.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? I would like to see resources allocated to support LGBTQIA+ people in all areas, housing, education, employment, artist opportunities, etc.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? I think access is a major barrier in our communities. Even when resources are available, not everybody is able to navigate and access those resources.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? The Garden of Peace Project, New Voices Pittsburgh, PATF, True T Entertainment, THRIVE, Dreams of Hope, JUDAH Christian Fellowship, Cafe con Leche, Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents, and probably a host of others I’m having a hard time naming off top.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? That we will not address the deep issues of class, race, accessibility that do keep us divided.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? My greatest hope is that we can all live as fully ourselves everyday with no fear of harm based on who we are, and no shame based on what hate we have internalized.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. What is not readily available for LGBTQIA+ communities? Healing spaces that address psychic, spiritual, and emotional trauma of our communities that have an intersectional analysis.
Thank you, Joy.
If you would like to participate in a future Q&A, please visit our survey or contact us pghlesbian at gmail dot com.