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.
In recognition of the 20th Anniversary of Pittsburgh Black Pride, we are highlighting voices from their board, volunteers and supporters. First up is Shell.
County of Residence: Allegheny
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? The first LGBTQ person I met as a child was my mother. I grew up in a same sex (lesbian) household. In the 80’s & 90’s the lifestyle was not as accepting as it is today. I had to deal with a lot of ridicule from other children. The impact it had on my life is amazing. It taught me acceptance of others, & that I didn’t need a man to make me happy. It showed me it was ok to be me, and love whom I wanted to love. Instead of who society thought I should.
How do you describe your identity? I am an African American lesbian woman.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? I am currently on the board for Pittsburgh Black Pride.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character in television, film or literature? My favorite LGBTQ Famous person is ELLEN… I absolutely love her, and everything she is involved with. Because I know its something positive to help someone. If I had the platform, & means I would certainly do the same.
How would you describe yourself in terms of “being out”? I. Am. Proud of being out.. I love being a part of Pittsburgh Black Pride.
Tell me about your local or regional LGBTQ community. Our local community is fairly small, but has a big impact on the city.
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 guess because I don’t dress like a “stud” or a man I have not personally experienced any kind of discrimination. But have been in heated arguments with my coworkers about bad mouthing the lifestyle.
Describe your community in terms of being LGBTQ friendly (or not.) Our community is pretty friendly. A lot of people live in the life from my city.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? A lot of transgender people have trouble getting a job because of their appearance.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? More convictions of hate crimes.
Please share any anecdotes about life as a LGBTQ person in your community that might help outsiders better understand. I love planning & being on the board of PBP. The pride events have been something positive to look forward to for 20 yrs.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? The challenges are just being accepted by people not living in lifestyle.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? Pittsburgh Black Pride is a great source of help or info about the city.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? My greatest fear for the LGBTQ community is not having a voice in the decision-making for the city.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? My greatest hope for the city is that one day both prides can come together, and have one big celebration that everyone feels comfortable attending. That reaches out to every race. Not just one or the other.
What motivated you to take part in this project? I love being a part of anything positive for the LGBTQ community.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. How can we find a way to unify all the different organizations in the city that are here for the LGBTQ community???
Thank you, Shell. Please be sure to check out the Pittsburgh Black Pride events and turn out to support your community.
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 26 at Pittsburgh Black Pride BBQ
- August 1 Big Summer Chick Picnic
- 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