RevDrRay, 49, Believes LGBTQ Folks Deserve Strong & Powerful ‘Spiritual’ Life #AMPLIFY

Pittsburgh Gay Black Man

I just want to say that it is possible to have a strong and powerful “spiritual” life; we do not deserve the often used bible or faith based abuses dished out and far too often accepted by the masses.

Name: RevDrRay

Age: 49

County of Residence: formerly Allegheny County, now Washington DC metro area

Preferred Pronouns: masculine

How do you describe your identity? male, masculine, gay, black, new thought metaphysical spirituality, interfaith spirituality

Please describe your coming out experience. Where did you find support? What challenges did you face? Mid 90s, I wrote a 5 page letter to my parents and siblings explaining why I wanted my partner at the time to be able to attend thanksgiving dinner. All of my older brothers would bring their wives or girlfriends and I wanted to invite Jay and I felt the need to explain why I wanted him there. my mother was the only one to address the letter directly. After about 4-5 weeks, she explained to me that she loved my brother Jimmie who had killed someone and if she loved him no less, then why would she and my father love me any less. Interesting thing was that a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell atmosphere developed. No one would talk about “it.” My older brother Jimmie did however occasionally ask about jay or who I was seeing years later after Jay and i broke up. My oldest brother, being an evangelical minister from the Liberty University (Par Robertson / 700 Club) did now have a new reason to shun me. He had done so while I was in high school because I practiced martial arts which according to his teachings was satanic… oy vey

How would you describe yourself NOW in terms of “being out”? I am comfortable, confident, empowered, authentic, and transparent as a teacher, minister, person…. When I attended my first pride event I was terrified… not I look forward to attending pride in NYC yearly and DC as well. In fact my first NYC pride was when I was had the opportunity to march with the IN THE LIFE group. Fantastic experience! Love myself fully now!

Tell me about the first LGBTQ person whom you met. What impact did they have on your life? First person that I KNEW was LGBTQ would have been a staff member at the center in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh PA. I was impacted in positive and empowering ways though that was not readily known until years later. I saw someone who was comfortable and proud of who they were as an LGBTQ individual and that there was nothing to feel ashamed of!

Past or present, favorite LGBTQ character or creator in television, film or literature? Please tell us why. Hmmm . . . honestly not sure about this one

How do you stay informed about LGBTQ issues? internet via various sites and blogs

Describe your geographical community.  DC metro – Urban, conservative, political, . . .
Pittsburgh – Urban, underground (from what I recall when I lived there)

Describe your local or regional LGBTQ community. Currently I am in MD / DC metro area… huge community, kind of segregated in various ways based on cliques (age, race, form of expression. . . ) There could be far more going on to empower but I do not see it happening. DC is quite conservative and I see that as a barrier to the growth and expansion needed here.

Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your identity? Specifically, in a job setting, when applying for housing or while in public. Yes, while out on the town when I first moved to DC, people yelling slurs.
Also while in Pittsburgh, same kind of derogatory stuff…
Job setting, housing, etc.. no
In religious settings (churches) .. was something when I first moved to DC. Wasn’t me directly or personally but more generic at LGBTQ community

Are there issues impacting your LGBTQ neighbors that aren’t visible or part of the local dialogue? DC – LGBTQ and deaf and youth seem to be less visible
Pittsburgh – Deaf, youth, and ethnic diversity

What would you like to see elected officials do to improve life for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians? Laws to protect, funding for classes, workshops, etc for sensitivity training, . . . simply being more vocal about supporting the community

Please share a lived experience, anecdote or fact about life as an LGBTQ person in your community. Nothing directly at this time comes to mind. . .
I just want to say that it is possible to have a strong and powerful “spiritual” life; we do not deserve the often used bible or faith based abuses dished out and far too often accepted by the masses.

Beyond discrimination, what other barriers create challenges for your LGBTQ neighbors? Religious foundations that create and foster self hatred, low self worth, disempowering thoughts and feelings which lead to depression, addictive behaviors, .. suicide

What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors? LGBTQ community center, Whitman-Walker medical center, Us Helping US, SMYAL are the main ones I am familiar with in the DC area

What is your greatest fear for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Continued oppression and in fighting among the community, divisiveness and separation based on race, religion, etc..

What is your greatest hope for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania? Unity, visibility, and empowerment as a community that is a welcome and embraced part of the whole of Western PA community

What can allies do to support your LGBTQ community? teach, speak up, get involved politically to change laws, be role models, offer more workshops and training

How can gay men and lesbians support the bisexual, transgender and queer members of our community? open lines of communication, listen to them and learn to accept

What motivated you to take part in this project? I used to live in Western PA and I know that my personal experiences have been very interesting and beneficial to meand hoping that my answers may be of assistance to someone else.

Finally, what question should I have asked? Please also share your answer. What could bring more unity and empowerment to the LGBTQ community

 

Thank you.

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.

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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