Name: Pixie Colbert
County of Residence: Allegheny, grew up in Fayette County
Preferred Pronouns: She/Her/They/Them
How do you describe your identity? I am a strong-willed, sweet hearted, intelligent, extroverted introvert, androgynous, non-binary, genderqueer, lesbian. I perform drag as Mr. Ace Phoenix. I am not a fan of labels. Period. I feel I can identify as a lot of these “labels” and there is not one single “label” that can describe a person because people have a series of sides and masks. If I had to choose one label, maybe I’d like to just say I Am Pixie.
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? I feel like I came out around 3 times to my parents. The first time I was 13, it was all hell. I was told it’s disgusting. That their daughter isn’t “that way”. They couldn’t even say the word gay or lesbian. I tried telling my mom first but of course that wasn’t kept between mother and daughter. I was pretty much on house arrest for 3 months. They blamed the girl I was dating at the time because she was a little bit older and she was “putting thoughts in my head and manipulating me”. Finally, my best guy friend (who also happened to be gay) pretended to be my boyfriend so I could leave the house for more than school again.
Later down the road, it came up again. I was afraid to admit it to them and go through months of house arrest again. They were afraid to admit it themselves too. So they would say they heard I was holding hands with girls in school. I didn’t lie, I said no. I also chose to not go into further discussion that my girlfriend isn’t in my school so there’s no way that was possible. =P
Finally, the 3rd time it was brought up was when I was nearing 18 and near the end of my high school days, I spent a lot of time traveling to spend weekends with a “friend”. Eventually, they asked about it. I told the truth. Got told again how disgusting it was, that they’d rather me be pregnant, all gays should be put in a room and shot, they didn’t want a gay daughter…. So I packed some bags of clothes and attempted to take off. My dad tried to fight it by not letting me out the door. Eventually, he gave up and told me to leave. About half an hour to her house, my mom called crying on the phone saying we can “work this out.” I said, I need time away, I’ll be home in a few weeks. Summer passed, I left for college. Now they are accepting of me, love me, and miss me since I’m not around much. But time and distance made them wise.
My support was my best friend’s Aunt. She loved me and cared for me unconditionally. When I told her, she said “Yeah I know.” As did almost all of my friends. Most wondered when I was finally going to come out to them.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? Out and Proud! I am completely out and I love who I am. I enjoy LGBTQA events, perform in the drag community, and hope to grow more involved in the amazing community Pittsburgh has to offer.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? The first time it occurred to me that I had a friend who was gay was during an evening messaging people on AIM. She had the bi pride flag as her icon. I asked her what it was and she explained to me she was bi. I was instantly interested and eager to learn more. She never kissed a girl but knew she was attracted to them. We hung out a few times after that, I remember how intense just our feet touching on each other was as we laid on her bed watching movies. Then we finally broke each other girl-kiss virginity at a dark, closed off ice rink of a skating complex one night. The impact? What can I say, I kissed a girl and I liked it.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Ellen. She’s funny, cute, out and proud! Her comedy stand ups are not based on offending groups for laughter or any other form of prejudice stand-up comedy. They are well formatted to entertain everyone safely and cautiously and always loop around to make connections by the end of the show.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? Mostly social media, internet, and by word of mouth from many friends who work within the community. I also am in the drag performance community.
Describe your geographical community. Where I am at now is a quiet neighborhood, with another LGBTQ family next door. Nothing more to say on that; I am safe and enjoy it. Growing up in a small country town in Fayette county was hell. I remember walking to receive a volunteer hours recognition award and hearing someone mutter dyke as I walked down the aisle in the high school auditorium. Countless nights getting hit on by guys who didn’t understand. Never feeling a place of home and comfort in that town. So I moved here for college, and I will never move back to a small town like that.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. Our community in Pittsburgh is continually growing. We offer many programs for many different groups, from youth to drag to kink. We offer safe spaces and many different events or outings to support and celebrate. You can meet others with your same interests or struggles, offer support as allies, or have fun chosen family outings. There is always something going on. When I came to my first pridefest in 2006, it was on the hillside of Northshore on Sunday. Now, we take over downtown and have a weeklong celebration of activities. If that’s not growth, what is?!
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. Yes. I work two jobs. Let me start by saying one o them is in theatre. That one I’ve never really experienced anything that stood out. The other is a male-dominated operations industry. I’ve accepted 3 transfers now within this industry. Where I’m at now, there are no issues that stand out. But I was in an atmosphere for 3 years in which some of my employees were sexist, homophobes. I maintained a professional stance while fighting against sexist and prejudice slurs coming out of their mouths. I won’t go into this too much, but it took about a year for me to have control of these individuals in the work atmosphere and for them to finally realize I wasn’t putting up with it and stopping. But never dealing with managing individuals like that before, it took a lot to learn how to fight that situation professionally. It wasn’t adults I was fighting, the mentality was that of a bratty 12-year-old.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? Abuse within LGBTQ relationships. Mental, Physical, Sexual, Any. It exists. It can happen to anyone. I’ve witnessed it many times in many ways. Seek help if you think you’re a victim of it. Feel free to message me if you ever need to talk to a stranger or make a new friend. No one should have to go through it but sometimes we get so wrapped up in “making it work” we lose ourselves.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Hate crimes/Prejudice crimes made known/punishable. Quit treating us like we are second class citizen all because of how we identify or who we sleep with. We are all people. Keep it at that. Stop the hate, the violence, the slurs, the slander, the negativity. “No freedom til we’re equal.”
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. I remember before I moved to Pittsburgh, coming to the city to go to Pegasus with my girlfriend. Someone standing on a corner yelled dykes and that’s disgusting at us while walking down the street. My heart raced thinking we were about to get jumped but I squeezed her hand tight and we kept walking by. My advice to anyone facing discrimination… Rise above. You cannot always fight with a fight back. No reason to get defensive, just puff that chest out and walk proud of who you are. Don’t stoop to their level of petty high school drama. Sometimes walking away is the best thing you can do.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Racism, Sexist, Prejudice, Lack of sexual education, homelessness
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? Persad, GLCC, Amplify, Garden of Peace Project, Dreams of Hope, Out Magazine
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? We will become to wrapped up in the incredible strides of marriage equality that we will lose focus on the battles of work place discrimination, hate crimes, homelessness, and many other things the community is still fighting.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Growth and Unity continues! We continue to be visible and to fight for all of our rights and end discrimination acts being under the rug.
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? Listen and not assume you know what someone may be going through. Be there for a friend if they need you. SPEAK UP! When you see someone being the victim of discrimination. Not everyone is strong enough to speak up for themselves.
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? Same as above. Don’t assume you know what’s up. If you treat those community members differently than your own, that’s discrimination too and you’re just as bad as the people our community fights against.
What motivated you to take part in this project? I loved seeing others share their thoughts and feelings. I felt honored when I was asked to be a part. I hope that some of my stories my provide support to youth out there who may be dealing with personal, home, or other struggles.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. Possibly more of a get to know you section or what do you do day to day? I’m Pixie. Some of you may know me as Mr. Ace Phoenix in the drag community. I’m a tech theatre dork with a BFA in Technical Direction and Design. I serve at a local theatre in production management. I work overnight as a manager in an Air Division group that operates out of the Pit Gateway.
Any one can feel free to message me if they ever need an ear or a hand or just a new friend. =)
Thank you, Pixie.
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.