Name: Mia Donna
County of Residence: Washington, formerly Allegheny and Westmoreland
Preferred Pronouns: she, her
How do you describe your identity? pansexual gender fluid human
Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? ha. i laugh because i dont believe i really had a true coming out experience. i did it way late in life around 26yrs old, after the fact that i outed my ex who was transitioning from male to female. after the initial shock of that, and than eventual acceptance, i than came out to my mother as being bisexual, and also how i dont see people as genders, and how i struggled with my own identity but that i was comfortable in my body so i was not seeking hormone treatment or surgery. she was overwhelmed, and said she would not share this information with my father right away, i said i didnt care as long as she knew.
How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? from that time that i came out privately to my mother, i have lived my life on my own terms. i was never quiet about how i felt about prejudice of any kind, and i have had wild and happy life as a pansexual polyamorous person who is also a part of the kink community. sometimes i feel a bit like a hypocrite, because some of my family knows about my lifestyle and some of them do not. i feel like a measurement of privacy is something i would like to hold onto sometimes, and other times i just want to shout out loud about all my loves and adventures. i have some close friends that are also in poly relationships, and they say that privacy is good especially because it may drive people away from me that i care about – but if they care about me, than they should accept all of the people in my life. right? its something i struggle with personally. but i feel that as long as i do right by my fellow lgbtq family, in supporting all of our causes, and being active in my lifestyle and being personally happy, than i am showing others who think i should be straight, and monogamous, and not kinky, that success and happiness comes with being true to yourself.
Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? I didn’t actually meet them. I saw them as I walked to school one morning. It was when I was still a small kid, I will approximate 10 years old. The person I saw was dressed head to toe as if they were Prince. Tight pants suit/catsuit like, all white i do believe, white high healed mens shoes, same Prince hairstyle and facial hair, and make up to make their skin look smooth, unbuttoned shirt to show gold jewelery. This person was pushing a baby carriage. I thought the baby carriage was the only strange thing that didnt quite belong. I was in awe of this person, if they could be so brave in our little southern town to be themselves fully this early in the day and so boldly out on the street , than i could be myself too.
Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. let’s go with past and present favorite musician: Ani DiFranco. she was my first openly proud bisexual celebrity. her poetry and music reminded me of how i felt a lot. i have a tattoo inspired by one of her poems.
How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? I’m the photographer for a local gender performance troupe called Hot Metal Hardware. I have had several art shows of my own, and participated in many group shows, at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center. Aside from those things, I have known I was not straight since I was very young, I was never in denial about who I was and I cannot ignore others like me. I have no choice but to be informed and do my best to make sure we are heard and seen.
Describe your geographical community. I now live about 45 minutes outside the city in a little rural town. For the most part I think that everyone just keeps to themselves out here, and as long as you are not causing too much of a disturbance they could care less about who or what you are individually. but i can only go by my personal experiences.
Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. I will tell you about the two centers I have used and do use often, The Persad Center in Lawrenceville. and The GLCC in downtown Pittsburgh.
Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. yes. i once looked at apartments with a former girlfriend, we both had brightly colored hair and are heavily tattooed. we both have loud laughs and talk alot. we might have just been profiled as party people based on our look and loudness. plus the fact that we were open about our relationship. i am not a stranger to being discriminated against for my identity. that does not make it something i should get used to though. no one should expect that kind of treatment. everyone should get the same opportunities.
Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? not that i am aware of / or in my personal experience.
What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? honestly, i am still learning a lot about politics, locally or other. my ignorance in politics is a whole other story.
Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. its crazy for me because i am pansexual, and polyamourus, and in the kink community. none of this information phases anyone who really knows me, or my partners. but for outsiders who are straight, vanilla, or in monogamous relationships – i might as well be asking for all the discrimination and problems. every day i encounter something like this, i simply explain the best i can so they can understand. and sometimes they do, but usually they say its too much work and they cant wrap their brains around it so they dont even want to try to understand.
Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? lack of an open mind. it takes five minutes to try and understand where someone is coming from. our rights and wants to be happy are just as important as yours.
What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? The Persad Center and The GLCC.
What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? just when i think that we are living in a modern day life, where anyone can live their life and not worry about being attacked randomly – someone out there proves me wrong. i would like general society to wake up and realize we are all different individuals, but we all have the same goals – to be happy in a job, our love life, and maybe even have a family some day.
What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? i hope that those who do not understand, get educated and open their minds in some way to see that all the hatred and discrimination is not helping our race evolve into a better existence. thats all i can hope for.
What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? educate yourselves. vote.
How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? remember what it was like for you to feel like an outcast, understand that just because we dont fit into your identity – we do fit into the community, and your support goes a long way.
What motivated you to take part in this project? my own struggles with being completely out in my personal life, but not with a lot of my private family life. also, my friends are running this and i want to help them, because they have helped me. support has a lot to do with personal growth.
Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. i can’t think of any.
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.