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.
Preferred Pronouns: he/his
County of Residence: Allegheny
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? A fraternity brother. The whole house was jammed together on couches watching TV after President Kennedy was shot. He had his arm on the back of the sofa and eventually, discreetly rubbed my shoulder and the back of my neck. Since I didn’t rebuff him, later he asked me to spend that Thanksgiving with him in the fraternity house since hardly anyone else would be there. After that I considered myself bi, even though I was still a virgin in that department. I lost contact with him after he graduated (he was 2 years older than I am) and we just hooked up again on Face Book last month !
How do you describe your identity? gay
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? All for equality and thrilled that I have lived long enough to see same-sex marriage become legal and that the Boy Scouts could possibly lift its ban later in July 2015. [Editors Note: Larry submitted this before the decision by the Boy Scouts to rescind the ban. Good call, Larry.]
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character in television, film or literature? The two men in Will and Grace.
How would you describe yourself in terms of “being out”? Out – I taught for 43 years, and though I never announced it at an assembly or anything, students would write me later, as they came out to me, that they felt a certain amount of comfort knowing that a few other teachers and I were there for them, though it was mainly unspoken. (I was Dean of Students for 20 years and my successor is Out as is the Head of the Senior School)
Describe your geographical community. I live in a very diverse neighborhood in a historic district. It is by no means a “gay ghetto”, but everyone gets along.
Tell me about your local or regional LGBTQ community. I live in Pittsburgh. It is very active. The first Pride Parades were about 3 blocks long and ended in a park. Now it starts at the Court House (where the Mayor married 20 people before the start of the parade last year) and ends on Liberty Ave, which is blocked off for booths, etc. At the other end of the street, the Three Rivers Arts Festival is winding down. Two Just Ducky Tour boats got enmeshed by accident in the parade one year. I always wondered what the people on those boats thought (Mabel, I didn’t know that we were in San Francisco !).
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. No, but my partner at the time, who was Black, and I were turned away from looking at a house to rent “It has already been rented.” I am sure because he was Black, not because two men wanted to rent it.
Describe your community in terms of being LGBTQ friendly (or not.) Friendly.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? Not that I know of except lesbians and gay Black men seem left out of the major organization (Delta)
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? We can still get married one day and fired the next day, and there is housing discrimination.
Please share any anecdotes about life as a LGBTQ person in your community that might help outsiders better understand. No one bothers me and I feel very accepted. I’ve never been harassed. I feel more vulnerable now because my mustache is white and I walk slowly with a cane and usually hang onto someone’s arm and not in a romantic way, more for dear life so that I don’t fall down backwards!
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? I don’t know.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? PERSAD, Shepherd Wellness, among others.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? That right wingers will repeal the advances that we had made.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? No work and housing discrimination.
What motivated you to take part in this project? Don’t really know. I’m not embarrassed who I am and am glad more and more young people feel free to be out.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. I think that you covered it.
Thank you, Larry.
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.