De, 49, Is Concerned About LGBTQ Youth in Rural Western PA #AMPLIFY

Lesbian Beaver County

Name: De

Age: 49

County of Residence: Beaver

Preferred Pronouns: Her/She

How do you describe your identity? Black lesbian woman

Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? I came our late in life age 35, i had a few gay male friends that supported me. Since I didn’t have any lesbian friends I decided to start a group on AOL called Pittsburgh Lesbian Connection (PLC)

I gained a lot of support from the group they were a wonderful group of ladies that helped me come out to my family, gave relationship advice, and just stood by me as friends through any hardships I had.

The only challenge I faced was my religious mother and other family memories who did not understand why I “chose” to be this way.

How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I am.competely out to family and friends. I try to maintain professional at work since I work with children.

Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? The first lgbt person I remember was a woman who lived in my town. I was sheltered most of my life from anything that was against the norm. The only way I knew about this woman was over hearing my mother whisper “she’s a homosexual.”

I was walking one day and I saw the woman walking towards me, I felt like my parents would want me to cross the street and not go near her but i continued to walk towards her there was a comforting feeling near her. She said hello and stopped to talk with me for a few minutes. When i walked away i knew deep in my soul i was just like her but i kept that feeling hidden for a long time. When i came out i ran into her again and we exchanged ga glance that said, yes i know your gay and its ok im here If you need me. She had a very significant impact on my life.

Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Ellen. Shw has always stayed true to who she is. She doesn’t represent the “party” lesbian. She is as close to who I am than any other character on tv.

How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? The internet, facebook groups, and a few lgbt friends.

Describe your geographical community.  Where I live is somewhat lgbt friendly. If i were to bring a gf to karaoke where friends if mine are its fine. But if we were to go out alone there would be some unfriendly comments and people.

Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. There is no “local” community for me. The closest is Pittsburgh, 45 minutes away. I do have local friends that are lgbt and we try to connect as much as possible, or at the least stay connected online.

Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. I lived in public housing with a girlfriend and my landlord made several comments about her staying with me and eventually we were evicted for another reason but i feel it was mainly because we were gay.

Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? Not that im aware of. But i am sure there are issues that are happening somewhere that are not being addressed.

What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Equal rights for married gay couples just like anyone else. Protection from being fired based on sexuality. More awareness on bullying, and more suicide prevention available.

Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. A lot of the time were afraid to be ourselves because one person doesn’t agree with who we are. Always remember there a lot of people who accept you for who you are, and often its the ones you least expect. Live your life outwardly, don’t hide or feel you can’t be you. Be free, live free, always be you.

Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Ignorance.

What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? You can find a world of knowledge, acceptance, information online. Facebook has every type of group imaginable find one that fits you.

What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? That there still not be a safe haven for the lgbt youth that can’t go into Pittsburgh for help.

What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? That people like myself are willing to reach out to lgbt youth and adults even in this small community.

What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Stand up, speak out, show support to all lgbt persons.

How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Remember were all in the same part of the same community.

What motivated you to take part in this project? I wanted my experiences to be heard, and to reach out to help my community.

Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. I think you covered them all. Please ignore any grammar or any of my bad spelling. 🙂

Thank you, De.

 

Read the entire AMPLIFY LGBTQ Q&A archive.

AMPLIFY LGBTQ is a 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. 

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. 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.

You can read the other Q&A responses here.  AMPLIFY! LGBTQ is a project of Most Wanted Fine Art and Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents.

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