Read the entire AMPLIFY LGBTQ Q&A archive.
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.
County of Residence: Allegheny
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? Besides myself, I’m not sure who was first. I didn’t pick up on cues for gender expression or sexual orientation until I was a teen, and I just decided it was safer for me to wait until someone made a clear verbal statement of their identity.
How do you describe your identity? Black. Pansexual. Femme-presenting, genderfluid deity.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? I am a member of a few groups that focus on LGBTQ issues for People of Color. I stay informed mostly through social media.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character in television, film or literature? Langston Hughes
How would you describe yourself in terms of “being out”? Invisible in plain sight
Describe your geographical community. Eastern Suburbs, but I work in the city.
Tell me about your local or regional LGBTQ community. The white side has more money, so the events are more likely to have news coverage and food. I encounter microagressions and explicit racism when hanging out with the white LGBTQ community which is painful and weighs heavily on my psyche. The Black side is more fun, lively, and feels more home-like.
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 have encountered barriers by way of gender policing and being reprimanded for not conforming to specific gender rules, i.e. wearing “mens” wingtip shoes instead of “womens” flat casual shoes, or being required to wear heels, being asked to remove my tie, etc.
Describe your community in terms of being LGBTQ friendly (or not.) It is friendly because I make my own community. I purposefully surround myself with people who would advocate for me and for our space.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? I don’t really speak to my neighbors, and I haven’t since moving to Pittsburgh, despite living in several neighborhoods.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Fight for and enforce nondiscrimination policies. I’d like to feel safe in my home and my job.
Please share any anecdotes about life as a LGBTQ person in your community that might help outsiders better understand. Invisible in plain sight. People assume many things about me and rarely ask me who I am or how I identify.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Class, socioeconomic status.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? Nothing I know of, unless you enter the City of Pittsburgh.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? We don’t have enough resources for our youth, especially for those who are not in the city or lack transportation.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? That we will include intersectionality when making space/events for each other.
What motivated you to take part in this project? I want LGBTQ Pittsburghers to have long, healthy lives where everyone is safe to live authentically.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer What safe places do you enjoy using for LGBTQ events/activities? Pegasus was awesome. I wish we could bring it back,even if existed in a different form (like a museum).
Thank you, Coley.
If you would like to participate in a future Q&A, please visit our survey or contact us pghlesbian at gmail dot com.