Name: Saintly Sinner
County of Residence: Westmoreland
Preferred Pronouns: She. Her.
How do you describe your identity? I am a cisgender lesbi-not so-flexible Black biological womyn. I love being a womyn, I love my vagina, and I love being able to share these things with people who may see strength in me. If I’m able to inspire strength in others, my life is complete.
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? My father was very intuitive. He knew who I was before I fully realized who I was. One day, he said to me, “Cheyenne, if you live an alternative lifestyle, your dad loves you, and will love you indefinitely.” I smiled. 😃
Years after my dad passed away, my mom and I were having a conversation about pop culture that went like this:
Mom: Is Queen Latifah gay?
Me: OH yes. Lol.
Mom: Well, why am I always the last to know these things?
Me: I don’t know. I get the feeling that she’s bisexual, actually.
Mom: Are YOU bisexual?
Me: Yes (before I realized that I was actually a lesbian in a happy mixed orientation marriage).
Mom: Does [insert husband’s name here] know?
Mom: Mmmhmm. Well, I love you, and as long as you’re happy, I’m happy. Do you want an egg sandwich?
Me: YES!!! 😅💕💋💙💕💋💙💕💋💙
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I’m fearless. I am able to serve as a beacon of hope for other LGBTQIA+ humans if they needed hope.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? It was my Uncle Tony, and I was young, but I knew that he was very strong and special. He used to have a nagging cough, and he said that someone he cared about gave him an everlasting cold. But he was full of life, smiles, and he had a sense of style that could not be matched. I missed him when his cold finally overtook him.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Cheesy, maybe, but I love RuPaul for bringing light to the LGBTQIA+ Community in such a big way.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Social media, LGBTQIA+ events, reading, Joy KMT … Joy KMT is more of an inspiration to me than she knows.
Describe your geographical community. I live in a relatively affluent suburban neighborhood. There are very few LGBTQIA+ resources and watering holes here in Latrobe. In the city, though, the climate, if you will, is much warmer.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. The Pittsburgh LGBTQIA+ community appears to be a very active and conscious community. Very accepting. I do feel that more light needs to be shed on bisexuality. Bisexuality is not just a fetish, and bisexual individuals are not just confused and promiscuous. Period.
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. I’m a Black lesbian with a husband in a white neighborhood. Question answered. 🙂
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? There are very few LGBTQIA+ establishments and resources around my way, and I would love to see that change.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? A little recognition would go a long way.
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as a LGBTQ person in your community. When I started my new job, I was required to take a certain three-day training aimed at cultural sensitivity, enriching relationships and open-mindedness. The training took place in the basement of a Catholic Church. During that training, LGBTQIA+ sensitivity came up, and I, along with another girl, came out to my cowerqers that day. We were very well received, and in such a severe setting, I was very surprised at the level of acceptance. Did my heart kinda good that day. 🙂
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Healthcare. I’m starting to see healthcare become available for couples with same-sex partners. I cannot wait to see the whole world follow suit.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? Persad, GLAAD, Pittsburgh Pride, Pittsburgh Black Pride, Delta, etc etc etc…I just wish those resources had a louder presence here in the suburbs.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? My fear is that we will always be under the thumb of the cisgender white heterosexual male. My fear is that he will always make decisions for us.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? I just hope for constant positive progress.
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Continue to be allies. Be loud.
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Understand that the L and the G are not the only letters in LGBTQIA+. They aren’t the only letters that matter.
What motivated you to take part in this project? I just wanted to stand united.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. You did great. 👍🏿😋😍💋
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.