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 minimize 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.
I’ve known Jessi for ten years or so? She has a lot of wonderful qualities, but when I think of her – “courageous” typically comes to mind. Jessi stood up against transphobia in Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ community, a decision that I think was a major turning point in the visibiliT of the trans community in this region. That was 2007. She hasn’t stopped standing since then be it for homeless youth or marriage equality. And her sense of humor is certainly still self-evident.
Name: Jessi Queen Goddess of beauty and all that is glorious in the world
Preferred Pronouns: she/her/golden one
County of Residence: Westmoreland
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? met or was aware of? I had never met her but there was when I was 6-7 a transwoman in my area, spoken about in hushed tones and explained the best my folks knew “she usta be a he”. Roberta was her name.
How do you describe your identity? trans lesbian
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? my wife is involved in the science and research of many trans issues and teaches public health at the local U. I keep abreast myself thru friends and social circles as well as LGBT news websites. I have friends, I ask questions.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character in television, film or literature? I had to think. I never considered ones orientation when deciding favorites. I am a fan of Mr Humphreys. but Paul Lynde and Charles Nelson Reilly are also favorites. I guess the first obvious lesbian was Ellen. why- cuz I am a fan of humor
How would you describe yourself in terms of “being out”? I don’t scream from the rooftops about it, but important folks know. my Dr., some Union Reps. and coworkers. most family
Please describe your coming out experience? late 90s bought a computer, found local trans group that hung at Donnies. the only challenge I faced was the inner battle to actually go about an everyday activity in feminine appearance.
Describe your geographical community. quarter-mile east cow farm, west horse farm, north turkey and sheep. 1 redlight in town 2.5 miles from home. 4 miles from Kmart, Big Lots and ‘Giandiggle’
Tell me about your local or regional LGBTQ community. I know of a few LGBT folk out here but I met them in pgh or thru someone from pgh. any community I may have here is 1 on 1 and not group or organization. I get my community in Allegheny county thru the local hangs or GLCC
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. yup bathroom hassles at 1 work location, I bitch right back and stand for myself. didn’t seem to be concern from employer till another employee bitched, or so they said. I stood firm and reached compromise. and by the 2nd time it came up the EEOC and the title VII decisions came down, giving me more ammo for self-protection. and if it comes up again the next cycle with them, I will have the recent OSHA rulings for best practice.
Describe your community in terms of being LGBTQ friendly (or not.) I have not seen any day-to-day problems myself except misgendering. people first/only notice my 6′ height and think male. or knew me when I presented male and still haven’t gotten the clue in. but one hears so damned often of Transfolk being murdered that it makes one question just how friendly are they?
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? the issues that I see are no different from lgbt to hets. no one is teaching them how to live, ex: open a bank account instead of check cashers and payday loans. I see scads of folks rush to give wally world $4 to cash their paychecks every week. teach ’em how to hammer a nail, sew a button, change a tire.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? ENDA and state-wide anti discrimination laws. and legalize!! ya man, Legalize!! oops, sorry bout that last bit
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. early in my transition as I was getting out of my car at a gay bar. a pick’em up truck with a couple good ol boys approached with yells of faggot coming from the vehicle as they reached me the one yells “Damn you’re a chick,,, Lesbian!” and all I could think was, WooHoo, I am passing!
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Beyond discrimination I know of no other effecting lgbtqa alone.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? the list is pretty much the same as Allegheny’s, in fact it is Allegheny’s.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? that it will become the same as central Pa.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? that it will become more like Philly.
What motivated you to take part in this project? A heart that has touched mine many times asked me to participate.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. what was Wilma Flintstone and Betty Rubble’s maiden names? Wilma Slaghoopal and Betty Jean McBricker. aaahhh,,, Betty Jean……..
Thank you, Jessi.
If you would like to participate in this Q&A series, please visit our online form. You can also email pghlesbian at gmail dot com to participate. We welcome voices from across the community – everyone has a story to tell.