County of Residence: Allegheny
Preferred Pronouns: She, her, woman, female, Queen!
How do you describe your identity? I was adopted so don’t know my ethnic background. I am a heterosexual female. HIV + Trans woman who often regrets transitioning now that I’m older. Seems things such as relationships would be easier and life less lonely had I stayed a gay male. I wouldn’t know how to be a man though since I transitioned at age 23.
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? I was 13 and had ran away from home the night before, had a hicky on my neck when I came back home. They asked of course where had I been, then they asked about the hicky and asked what girl gave me that. I said it wasn’t a girl, but a man that gave it to me. The challenges from then on was surviving on the cold streets of Denver, CO. My parents kicked me out, then the courts stepped in so then had to survive group home after group home juvenile hall (jail for kids). Halfway houses etc etc.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? Don’t wear it on my sleeve but happy to educate folks at anytime!
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? My step cousin. Though I was only 12 but something about him just shouted Gay queen to me!
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Micheal Cain and that gay dude from the British TV comedy Are You Being Served! No trans folk I can think of now or then. Call it shade if u want, just none have struggled like me or a lot of the girls I know.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Facebook
Describe your geographical community. Urbanish?! Pittsburgh is not West Hollywood.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. Very white as it always been. just hired one black dude at images, the first one over seen behined a gay bar since Tasha Khan Brendon worked at Pegasus 20 years ago! I did a lot of firsts in this community none but Alan Jones, Macky Friedmamn, and Billy Hilman can remember. Seems since I moved back to Pittsburgh from living in Los Angeles for the past 10 years, everyone is gone! Dead or moved or disappeared. I often feel like a stranger in a familiar land.
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. None that I can think of. I’ve been blessed to be passable, no shade!
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? The elderly lgbtq population there’s no safe housing nursing facilities nothing here… in LA they have this fabulous senior living apartment complex right in West Hollywood in a brand new building! With doorman, nurses everything! Lack of activities social outlets for our seniors. U know most feel they need to go b back in the closet or de transition to feel safe in nursing homes?! My God!! Can u imagine?
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Elect one!
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. From my personal experience it’s always been it’s not what u know but who u know!
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Representation! No lgbtq orgs in Pittsburgh have any trans employees! Well that I know of. Or have seen!
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? Garden of Peace, Project Silk
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? That racial tension will get worse and actual conversation will be lost due to cell phones.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? That we are represented racially in everything in our community.
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Involve us, meet us where we’re at! Empower us!
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? See us as human not objects or prostitutes and don’t poke fun at us or any phase of our transition, don’t out us, don’t call us TRANNY!!
What motivated you to take part in this project? Wanted to leave some sort of legacy, maybe my story will help at least one person. if it does then I’ve dune my job here on earth!
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. What parting wisdom joke or saying poem would u like to share? In life u gotta go through what u gotta go through to get where u gotta go! Regret nothing! Love more share more!
Thank you, Jazmine!
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.