County of Residence: Allegheny. I’ve lived in a few states, but was born and raised (and now currently reside) in Pittsburgh.
Preferred Pronouns: She, her.
How do you describe your identity? Caucasian, Italian, Bisexual, Woman
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? I came out as bisexual at 15. My family didn’t take me seriously at all and ignored it for most of my life. I found support through friends and my (then) girlfriend. It was hard to feel what I was feeling and then on top of that be ignored. Trying to fit in was difficult because some people claimed I was a lesbian and some claimed I was confused. Despite being a virgin, I was also accused of trying to “justify promiscuity” or “asking for attention.”
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I am proud of who I am and always will be. I’m hoping to help other LGBTQ people in my community realize that they are not alone and support is out there. I’m engaged to a man but very much still bisexual.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? The first LGBTQ person I met was one of my elementary school teachers. She was a generous, friendly, and caring woman that helped me and my family through some difficult times.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Ellen… She’s such a generous, loving, person and works solely to share that love with the world.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Mostly online through news, lgbtq websites, and social media.
Describe your geographical community. I’ve lived in all different communities in this area and have found people on both friendly and unfriendly sides.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. There is not much for bisexuals in my community. I would love for that to change. I attend Pittsburgh Pride every year but would like to see more inclusion for bisexuals.
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. Yes, once I had to lie about my girlfriend being my roommate because the landlord “didn’t go for that sort of thing”.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? Yes, bisexuals would love to have more public acceptance, social events, and even counseling options. There are so many of us out there that have no one to talk to and there is little support in the community.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Stop acting like we don’t exist or that we will go away and give us the same rights as everyone else!
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. No response.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Erasure. We do exist and we’re not going away.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? Idk.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? No response.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? No response.
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? No response.
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Realize that sexuality is not just gay and straight.
What motivated you to take part in this project? I feel our voices need to be heard. There are so many of us that are being erased in society or wrongly labeled. We don’t want straight privilege we’re not trying to hide being gay we just want to be loved and accepted like everyone else.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. No response.
Thank you, Lela.
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.