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 met Kitty several years ago when she was a volunteer at the GLCC of Pittsburgh. She’s since relocated to her hometown in Erie. I saw her again at Pride last week and asked her to participate in this Q&A. She’s a talented graphic designer and was a stalwart volunteer. Plus, she’s just a very cool and nice person. I’m so glad she shared her story.
County of Residence: Erie
Preferred Pronouns: She/Her
How do you describe your identity? I would describe myself as a bisexual trans woman
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? I came out twice, first as a gay male then when i realized i was trans i came out as female. The first coming out was a mess but luckily my mother was supportive, my second coming out wasn’t so bad i just kinda did my thing and didn’t really have to “come out” though coming out as trans was much easier with the support of Pittsburgh’s GLCC.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? Out and open about it. i don’t try to hide anything about myself.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? This is tough because my uncle Dave and uncle Rich were gay but when i knew them it didn’t really have an impact on me. Beyond that i dont think there really was anyone that had an impact on my life untill i met Lyndsey at the GLCC in pittsburgh.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. I don’t really have one.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Usually via Facebook, i don’t really go out of my way to stay informed and if i have a specific question i usually just google it.
Describe your geographical community. I think urban would best describe my community with the outer city being more rural.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. Erie as a whole doesn’t have much of an LGBT community that is really out there nor do the immediately surrounding cities. The closest city with much of a community would be Pittsburgh.
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. I have experienced a few people making rude and disrespectful comments towards me in passing but have been lucky enough never to have had a confrontation.
Describe your community in terms of being LGBTQ friendly (or not) Well Erie isn’t as bad as some other places but it also isn’t the greatest either. We have one “gay club” and that’s about it really. I personally have encountered a few people who make rude comments but nothing major.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? I’m sure there are like with any community. I don’t really know what they would be though simply because there isn’t much of an LGBT community in my area.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? I would love to see a state level anti-discrimination law put into place.
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. While taking a break from my class i stepped outside and one of the other students asked if i was a boy or a girl because she couldn’t tell. When I told her I was a transgender girl i was surprised to find that she wasn’t just cool with it but that she had done a paper on transgender people for her senior year in high school. I learned that even in a less accepting community there are still good people who are ok with the LGBT community.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? I don’t really know since i don’t go out much but, i would guess finding appropriate health care providers and counseling is probably one of the challenges.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? Frankly there isn’t much, There is an Erie branch for PERSAD but they are youth only, there are a couple of trans meeting groups and one brand new Asexual group other than that i wouldn’t have any idea other than finding online support and resources that aren’t area specific.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? In a world where more people are becoming accepting, my fear is more for a threat from within the community, that threat being internal division. We need to stay as a whole community and not let the differences between the different parts separate us.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? I would like to see complete acceptance from the surrounding community and more openly accepting business establishments. I would also like to see less division within the community itself as a whole.
What motivated you to take part in this project? I wanted to help out a friend who said having my responses would be great.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. Not really sure. i’m bad at thinking up questions so i think this is good 🙂
Thank you, Kitty!
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.