Name: Maria Pompura
County of Residence: Allegheny
Preferred Pronouns: She
How do you describe your identity? Not fond of the word Lesbian. My wife and I identify as Gay. I am White. My family consists of my wife, 2 step daughters 32 and 27 and 2 adopted sons age 7 and 5.
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? I came out at the age of 11 to my family. My mother did not take it well. She wished me dead lots of times. My father and my siblings were and are very supportive. All my family and friends know who I am!
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I have been out since age 11. My friends , family and co workers are aware. I have never made my life a secret. I have done public speaking events through work about my life as a Lesbian from childhood to adulthood.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? It was a teacher. A friend of the family. She made me feel normal for the first time ever in my life.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Ellen. Loved her as a stand up comic and love the fact she seems to have always been out.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? The news and Facebook.
Describe your geographical community. Small suburb. I also grew up a few miles from where my family resides now. The first home my wife and I owned was also in a small suburb and it was hard for our teenage daughters at first because of having 2 Mom’s. Once the other family’s realized we are no different things got better for them.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. We joined the FLO group ” Families Like Ours! ” We wanted our children to see they are not alone. However we also want our children to know our family is no different from any other family, Straight or Gay. Our family is accepted in our predominately Straight neighborhood. We really identify as a family, Not a Gay family.
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. Lots of times. At work years ago my boss refused to give me any weekends off because she said my family didn’t count. Lots of other incidents from same person. I eventually left the job and she was fired after my exit interview. In public lots of times. People making comments that we are disgusting or the ever popular you just haven’t met the right man.
Describe your community in terms of being LGBTQ friendly (or not) Very friendly. We live in the small town of Versailles Boro. All our neighbors have been more than accepting. All very Welcoming.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? Nothing comes to mind.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Job Protection.
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as a LGBTQ person in your community. If only I was coming out on this day and age. Lol. How easy it would be.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Nothing comes to mind
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? PFLAG
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Bullying
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Peace and Understanding
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Teach their children compassion.
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Educate people
What motivated you to take part in this project? A friend asked me for help.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. Am I happy with my life? I am very happy with my life! I never would have chosen to be Gay due to the fact of all the pain I went through. But I believe it has made me a stronger and more compassionate person.
Thank you, Maria.
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.