Gloria is a Happy Black Lesbian #AMPLIFY

Gloria Bigelow

Name: Gloria Bigelow

Age:  Old Enough

County of Residence: Grew up in Allegheny, now lives in California

Preferred Pronouns: she

How do you describe your identity? Happy black lesbian.

Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? I found support in my friends and in other people in my community. I also had some friends who weren’t lesbian or gay, who stood by me and who were very supportive. My mother was a challenge, but in time came around to be very loving and supportive.

How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I’m so out- so very very out!

Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? The first person I met, was half of a lesbian couple that lived across the street. I couldn’t really tell them apart- one of them was named Linda and one of them was named Bonnie. They had a large black poodle and had a lot of dinner parties.

Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. hmmmm… it’s not a character… exactly… it’s Audre Lorde in Zami.

How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? friends and social media

Describe your geographical community.  Incredibly friendly- I’ve lived in a few different cities and I’ve felt most at home in NYC and LA in part because of the visibility of people in the community.

Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. LA has a thriving LGBTQ community- we seem to be represented in every aspect of life here. I feel fortunate that I’m very rarely the only LGBTQ person in the room. I’m sometimes the only black person, but rarely the only queer person.

Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. Not that I know of, but I’m also a very feminine presenting lesbian, people wouldn’t necessarily think to discriminate against me for being a lesbian on site– for other things, maybe, possibly, but for being a lesbian, no, I don’t think so.

Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? I think how black folks do or don’t fit into the LGBTQ experience is something that isn’t always a part of the dialogue. The experience of trans folks is often not as visible as well.

What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? I don’t really know- can’t really speak to that experience as I’m not there anymore and don’t feel I know enough to speak on that.

Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. When I first came out- it was horrible with my mother. Over time, and after difficult conversations, but mostly time, she has become a very supportive parent of her lesbian child. Parents have plans for you before you have plans for yourself, sometimes it takes them time to come around to the new plan. I’m proud that my mother has grown by leaps and bounds. I know that’s not the case with everyone, but I always tell people- give the people in your life some time to adjust, many of them will and the ones who don’t… don’t entertain them.

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

What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? social media can keep us all connected and involved- i’m thankful that many young people have that to feel a part of a larger community. i am also a fan of Trevor project and GLAAD

What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? I don’t really have a fear.

What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? I hope that we’ll walk in our truth and that we’ll be embraced, loved, and appreciated. Isn’t that what we all want anyway.

What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Be visibile- speak up, even if it’s uncomfortable.

How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? bringing everyone to the table

What motivated you to take part in this project? because it was Sue doing it.

Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. Not sure I have one- or
What’s your favorite lesbian food?
Answer… hummus!

Thank you, Gloria!

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. 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.

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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