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.
Gary found us! I love having yet another example of someone who has lived in different parts of Western Pennsylvania to allow us to compare and contrast things a bit.
County of Residence: Allegheny/Venango
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? An older member of our church with whom I had a sexual experience. It turned me off and I went for many years, thinking I wasn’t gay. I even married and knew when I got to college that I had made a huge mistake. Took years to come out. It was a long process for me. Now I am very happy, living with my partner.
How do you describe your identity? Gay, white, practicing yogi
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Newspapers, magazines, Facebook
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character in television, film or literature? James Baldwin
How would you describe yourself in terms of “being out”? Out in every sense of the word. Was in for too long not to be completely out.
Describe your geographical community? Urban now. Taught school in Oil City, Pa for 33 years. Moved back to Pittsburgh in June of 15.
Tell me about your local or regional LGBTQ community. Just moved back to Pittsburgh after Forty years. Small gay community in NW PA.
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. As a teacher, lots of slurs in the eighties, got better on the 90’s and 2000’s. Those were mostly from students. Had a faculty member call me a pervert back in the 70’s.
Describe your community in terms of being LGBTQ friendly (or not.) Haven’t had any problems in Pittsburgh. A sense of being tolerated in NW Pa.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? Ageism and support for older LGBTQ community
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? A non-discrimination law.
Please share any anecdotes about life as a LGBTQ person in your community that might help outsiders better understand. A student told me in class that she wouldn’t know what she would do if she found out her Dad was gay. (She knew That I had two children.). I responded with, Honey there are far worse things than that. She said, You know, you ‘re right. She had just outed me in class.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Ageism
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? PERSAD and PFLAG helped me a lot.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Backlash from the supreme court decision and religious freedom laws
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Acceptance and integration in the community at large
What motivated you to take part in this project? I’m old and would like to make a contribution.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. Are you happy?
Thank you, Gary.
If you would like to participate in a future Q&A, please visit our survey or contact us pghlesbian at gmail dot com.
Good news – AMPLIFY is going on the road this summer. We’ll be traveling to some Western PA events where you can meet with us face to face to complete the Q&A or learn more. Upcoming events include:
- July 19 at Butler PFLAG Pride Picnic
- July 26 at Pittsburgh Black Pride BBQ
- August 14 at Washington County GSA Summer Picnic
- August 16 at Westmoreland PFLAG Pride Picnic
- August 29 at Erie Pride
- October TBA Johnstown Halloween Parade