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.
You can read the other Q&A responses here.
I reached out to Katie-Anne several years ago when she was profiled in local media around conflict with the University of Pittsburgh. When I conceived of this project, I immediately reached out to her to share her thoughts and experiences as a resident of Cambria County.
County of Residence: Cambria
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? Several cousins are Gay. I was probably about four when I realized this. The two men who lived across the street were Gay. I don’t remember this having any affect on me.
How do you describe your identity? Twin spirited, bi-gendered. I have a completely developed male personality – Gabriel, and a completely developed female personality – Katherine Anne
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Internet lists and FaceBook.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character in television, film or literature? Jehanne Darc (frequently misrendered Joan of Arc)
How would you describe yourself in terms of “being out”? As out as one can be. Google Katherine Anne McCloskey for proof. I get near rock star recognition, or maybe trained seal recognition.
Tell me about your local or regional LGBTQ community. There is none outside the local Gay bar.
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. I was disabled 25 years ago, long before I was public about my gender.
Twice people have attacked me and they took a beating. I was expelled by the local chapter of N.O.W. because the president and her husband do not like transgendered individuals and meetings are held at their home. In contrast, local NRA chapters have asked me to speak on the Constitution. I am frequently referred to as Dr. McCloskey-Ross by complete strangers. I have on several occasions been given money for my federal law suit against the FBI for raiding my home. Universally these people are uber-conservative.
Describe your community in terms of being LGBTQ friendly (or not.) Oblivious.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? People believe that there are no more than few dozen LGBTIQA people locally.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Make discrimination illegal.
Please share any anecdotes about life as a LGBTQ person in your community that might help outsiders better understand. I do not understand my area. A poll of local people of all hues showed that locals believed POC amounted to 10 percent of the local people. The actual number is 27 percent.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Ignorance by cisgender folk and lethargy by the LGBTIQA community.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? None
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Internecine conflict. There is palpable dislike by Gay folk toward Trans folk. I hope this does not lead to violence.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Laws forbidding discrimination and an end conflicts within the community.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. I thought the questions were far-reaching and not tedious to answer.